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The series called Jewels of Elul has been around for quite a while, maybe 20 years. As the title suggests, these daily bits come out each day of Elul, the final month of the Jewish year. The one I’m sharing (below) caught my eye due to its musical connection, and the writer’s insights resonate with me. My own passion for music has everything to do with listening intently with an open heart. The writer takes things further as he applies the game of the piano keyboard to teshuva. Meaningful teshuva involves listening and searching, and a certain tenacity — a resolve to find the right note, to keep one’s focus. In just a few days we’ll take our first steps into 5782. Where is our spiritual map taking us? Have we owned up to our shortcomings, and what must we do to make things better, to plant a future crop of blessings? Are we listening?
Elul 22 ~ Harvey Mason Jr.
When I was just a year old, my parents started teaching me how to pitch-match by finding notes on the piano. They would play a key and I would crawl over to the piano bench, pull myself up,and try to find the same note on the piano. And when I turned two, they would play two notes on the piano, and I would sit beside them on the bench, and with my eyes closed, I’d have to find the matching notes.
As I grew up, I always had an ear for music, and the ability to interpret music in my own way but I eventually came to realize, without even knowing it, without being aware of it, my parents and their piano game were actually teaching me how to find my way in life!
They were teaching me how to pay attention to things that are happening in my life, to listen and learn, and how to seek out what resonated with me. My parents were subconsciously teaching me that if you keep trying, keep looking, and keep searching, you will find what you seek. If you keep plunking along on the piano keyboard, you’ll find just the right note. They taught me that in life, as on the keyboard, there should never be a time to stop exploring and trying to forge your own path.
I’ve gotten to where I am as a musician and a person, because of the love of my parents, their passion for music, and our time together searching for notes. I still sit down on the piano bench, tinkle a few keys, and try to find my way. And I always remember that early lesson – you might not always get it exactly right, but the satisfaction is in the journey to find those right notes in life.
Harvey Mason Jr. is a composer and producer who serves as the CEO of The Recording Academy. www.grammys.com