The eyes are what had me. Those two tear-streaming, glistening eyes. How is one to put those few moments into words when all else seems to vanish and disappear from this world, when the art of music seems to be the sole strong bond which connects one human to another? Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.
Now, when you read you begin with ABC, however, when you sing in Golden Strings you begin with some Polish do-re-mi’s. Yet, before one can even begin to use one’s vocals, each Golden Stringer has to first learn to master the fine art of serenading. It was going to be during this show that my life would forever be altered by simply selecting a sweet old man to whom to sing “My Melody of Love.”
Let me first describe what the Tremper High School Golden Strings entails. It is comprised of about thirty-five strolling string students who memorize a compilation of different pieces ranging from the rousing gypsy-style Monti Czardas to the let’s-thrust-dear-old-grandma-up-onto-a-chair Hava Nagila. Golden Strings travels to many different venues, and our main objective is to portray the immense effect music can have in breaking down barriers, whether between language, differences of opinion, or personal preferences. We begin each show on stage and then break off into our smaller clusters to begin what makes our group unique: the strolling aspect. Each “cluster,” or small group of musicians, strolls or walks around to the various tables, aiming to play to individuals and groups of people. Made popular by Bobby Vinton, one of the group’s signature pieces entitled “My Melody of Love” combines an instrumental and vocal rendition. In other words, each stringer has to kneel down and sing one’s guts out to an audience member.
Now venturing back to that memorable day, as My Melody of Love made its fast approach within the song lineup, my eyes anxiously scanned the room for a little old man to serenade. I was in luck! There he was, sitting contemplatively, seemingly silently screaming for someone to kneel down next to him. No other stringer had beaten me to him, so the next moment I was at his side finishing the tune on my violin. And then out came the traditional Polish words “Moja droga jac ie ko cham, Means that I love you so.” His sudden smile was contagious, and soon we were both grinning from ear to ear. The table was abuzz with giggles and laughter, while family members eagerly snapped pictures. “Moja droga ja cie ko cham, More than you’ll ever know. Ko cham cie bie ca em ser cem.” And it was at that moment that something changed. I was no longer solely an entertainer and him an audience member; we had created an unalterable memory. All was quiet and the final words of “Return to me, and Always Be, My Melody of Love” brought on the waterworks. He promised me that he would never forget me and I made that same promise to myself.
The activities that transpired during the rest of that day are now a blur to me, yet those short twenty seconds seem as vivid to me now as if they had just taken place. I will never forget the old man’s look of contentment and peace. What other language besides music allows one to walk up to a total stranger and simply enjoy one another’s company? Music is truly unparalleled in its ability to bring together people from all walks of life, and all with incredible life stories to share.