December 2021

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By April Lynn James, PhD

Quite often, Spirit works in roundabout ways to set us upon our path. 

How I got into 18th-century music is one such example. I had grown up singing Mozart, Handel, Bach, etc. in our church choir, but by my teens and twenties, I was definitely into the Beatles, rock, and pop music. For some reason, I was also into the Porsche 928S, and prized my Matchbox car version of one that was painted a beautiful turquoise blue. One day while watching TV, I caught an ad for this car; after a short period of time, I found myself watching TV hoping to see the ad. But it wasn’t the image of the car that was blowing me away — it was the background music. It had some very exciting violin music playing while the car was being put through its paces. I kept looking for the commercial in order to hear the music.

Not long after, I was flipping through the radio dial in my car, and I hit one unfamiliar station that was playing that same violin music! I listened to the end, because I simply had to know what it was. It turned out to be the “Summer” concerto from “The Four Seasons” by Antonio Vivaldi. Well, I had to know more! Since this was before the internet and CDs, I took myself to Tower Records and went searching for this piece. It was my first visit to their classical section. I found an LP with Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons,” brought it home, and played it over and over. I went back and started purchasing recordings of music by other 18th-century composers — Mozart, Handel, Bach, etc. Then I went to the library and began researching these composers, and pretty soon I left rock and and most pop music behind. Eventually I would earn my PhD in music with one of my special areas being 18th-century music and dance.

I still love “Summer” (and any piece by Vivaldi, really). Over the years, I’ve wondered what it is about music from that century that attracts me. Sure, it could be a past life connection, but I feel it’s something more fundamental. I feel it’s a heart connection, a spiritual connection with composers who knew that they weren’t the true creators of their works, but rather that their creations came from the Divine Source through them. These composers also listened closely to the voices and instruments in their milieu, and created works that beautifully showcased the best that these musicians and instruments were capable of displaying. I feel uplifted when I hear this music; it’s a real, physical sensation. 

I also love how these composers listened closely to nature. Take “Summer,” for example. In the first movement, one can clearly hear a lazy summer day being interrupted by a downpour; in the second, a dog is barking in the distance while the summer haze and laziness returns; but the third movement begins with lightning flashes and rumbling thunder that quickly turn into a downpour more intense than that recorded in the first movement. This piece surprises and delights, and always makes me smile. It’s beautiful, virtuosic violin music — a gem of a work that speaks of a shared experience across time and space. Next time a thunderstorm rolls around, take a really good listen, then go find a recording of the Vivaldi concerto, and you’ll hear what I mean. 

I’m glad that I listened to the Universe’s roundabout guidance all those years ago. My life is more “PLAY-ful” because of it. “L” in my P.L.A.Y. framework stands for “Listen to good music,” after all. Taken together with the other elements of PLAY, this helps us connect to our inner spirit in order to live happier, healthier, and more creative lives.

Bio:

April Lynn James, PhD is a pioneering entrepreneur, speaker, author, soprano, and designer of whimsical things. She is the corporeal half of April plus Madison, a Wonderland-inspired expressive arts and holistic wellness enterprise fueled, in part, by the fantastic rhymes composed and declaimed by her guardian angel, Madison Hatta, Sonneteer. Their P.L.A.Y.-shops help people lead healthier and happier lives through a combination of Positivi-Tea, Listening, Alice (+ Angels), and Yoga (+ Movement). 

Dr. April earned her doctorate from Harvard University. Her Zazzle store, April plus Madison’s Whimsicali-Tea Shop, is now open; it currently features sonnet greeting cards with Madison’s rhymes about time. She can be reached at dr.april@aprilplusmadison.com. If you would like more P.L.A.Y. practices, feel free to download her (plus Madison’s) free eBook Ten Ways to Play It Forward.

Personal LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/aprillynnjames/

April plus Madison LinkedIn:

https://www.linkedin.com/company/april-plus-madison/?viewAsMember=true

April plus Madison’s Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/April-plus-Madison-1414392788775159

Website: https://aprilplusmadison.com

Free eBook: https://tenwaystoplayitforward.com

SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/alj-1-1/sets

Zazzle store: https://www.zazzle.com/store/april_plus_madison/products