Ironically, the thoughts in this blog came one night when I had trouble sleeping.

Often when you get to the end of a journey you realise that half the fun was the process of getting there. In music, it is not the end of the music we enjoy but how it sounded along the way that makes the ending good too.

When a pupil sits down to play me a new piece they have been working on, sometimes in their eagerness to play the notes they leave out the rests. It makes the music unbalanced and not quite right. It is like life these days, we sometimes leave out rests because they seem a waste of time. But they are necessary and add to the overall beauty of life. And in music it is the rest that often makes the following music sound amazing.

I wanted to teach one of my little orchestras about rests, so I composed and arranged a piece of music that had a tutti rest (tutti is Italian for all, when everyone in the orchestra is playing together). It created quite a stir. There were some smarties that made a sound during the rest just to be noticed. Others simply couldn’t wait out the silence and came in too soon. I taught those little folks about counting out the space and they did much better.  After a while the silence hanging in the air (we had to practice not making any other sounds too) became a highlight and a strangely delightful triumph when everyone got it right.


Excerpt from A ‘n G   Copyright © Delwyn McKenzie 2016

‘Busy’ is a badge we wear in life and it can easily become the way we play our music if we don’t take it off. The rests in music need to be the spaces of silence that allow the music to breathe and pace itself.  If the performer can chill and put the rests in the right place, the balance of sound and silence will indeed make beautiful music.

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