Hey, I’m Katherine Forbes and I’m so grateful that the Muddy Paw PR team has allowed me to takeover the blog today for #WisdomWednesday. As the founder of Designing the Row and Music Biz Besties, my weekdays usually look like designing websites for musicians and hanging out online in my Facebook group.
But today I want to talk about how music has taught me so many life lessons (I’ve been playing piano since I was 7). My hope with this #WisdomWednesday post is to encourage you to look for and embrace these lessons in your own life. Why? Because I’ve been able to lean on these lessons as I’ve started my own business, walked through cancer with my husband, and so much more.
On my new album, Life Lessons Learned Through Music, I’ve paired 7 lessons each with a story and classical piano piece… and today I want to share the bonus lesson with you!
Click here to play the audio version of the story and song below or continue reading the story below. In the comments I’d love to hear if music has taught you any lessons that you’ve been able to apply to other areas of your life!
“Amazing Grace” is a song I know you know, and it has special meaning to me for a couple reasons. I started at Virginia Tech the fall after the shooting – one of the deadliest in US history – and I joined the marching band, playing piccolo. The band’s tagline is “The Spirit of Tech,” and that year “Spirit” really took on a new meaning. One of the first students who lost their lives that day was a band member who played baritone. Though I never met him, it sounds like he was a joy to be around.
I can’t play or hear or think of “Amazing Grace” without feeling like I’m back on campus in front of the memorial playing it just a few weeks into my freshman year. I’ll never forget that day because I stood right in front of the director, and I can so vividly remember the emotion he conducted that song with. The arrangement starts out with just the baritone section and then changes key when the rest of the band joins in. Then come the 32 very dissonant beats of bell tones to represent each of the 32 lives taken on April 16. Those bell tones crescendo into a huge major chord played by the full band, and then it ends with just the baritones playing the melody. Listening back, it still makes my heart drop and gives me the chills every time.
Then fast forward to moving to Nashville and meeting my husband! He was taking care of his grandparents’ house after his grandmother moved into the nursing home. One night the whole family went over to celebrate her birthday. At this point her Alzhiemers had taken over. She didn’t know who anyone was or where she was. But, there was a piano in the room and since she had played piano her whole life and had always played in church we pulled out the hymnal and I started playing. Then Chris’ mom suggested I play her favorite hymn, “Amazing Grace.” And as I did, Chris’ grandmother sang every word to every verse, without missing a beat, and then said a prayer after the song was finished. The music took her back to a past moment of clarity. It was such a special experience.
While this song takes me back to some sad memories, it shows me the power of music. The power of music and the lessons I’ve taken from it – that I hope I have now passed on to you – have truly given me confidence in all that I do.
So I’d like to close out by improvising “Amazing Grace.” Just like I never know before I sit down to play this if I’ll play a sweet soft version, or a powerful loud one, or a combination of both – I think it symbolizes how we’re all going along in life doing the best we can. No one has all the answers or everything figured out. But if you quiet your mind and listen to what’s in your heart, it will show you the way.
Life Lessons Learned Through Music Track listing:
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In the comments I’d love to hear if music has taught you any lessons that you’ve been able to apply to other areas of your life! PS. I hang out in Insta DMs too if you want to share your takeaway with me there, @katherinedforbes