L'Dor va Dor: A Holistic Approach to Music
When I think of spring I think of music. The songs of the seder and the sounds of spring. For that reason I think it is fitting to post this post on making music now, when spring and music are in the air.
This short essay and accompanying video are written by Micah Shapiro. Micah is a talented musician, a rabbi and a leader. His music is imbued with spirit so I asked him to write on the process of music making.
I am so grateful for Micah’s essay because what he wrote connects music to something deeper than music and that is family.
Thank you, Micah, for gracing this page with your words , this amazing video and your music.
L’Dor va Dor: A Holistic Approach to Music
My dear friend Rabbi Rebecca Richman asked me and my partner Aaren Alpert to sing and play at her final service at The Germantown Jewish Centre in Philadelphia. Our 2.5 year old, Levav, had been honing his hand drum playing for about 1 year leading up to this and was proclaiming himself ready to be part of the band. It turned out that he was actually ready! During one of the upbeat pieces, he jumped on the djembe and let loose with his go to beat and really locked into the groove. It was amazing and, of course, he stole the show. He was beaming with pride along with his parents. I take deep joy in Levav’s passion for, and skill in, music at such a young age. But this joy goes beyond a parent feeling proud of their kid.
I am currently hard at work on my second Jewish music album, a project that has been a turbulent, passionate affair with 15 musicians executing complex musical compositions in 10 different studios. I am trying to make something very particular, a vision that is proving slow and tedious to complete. There is an unforgiving nature to the studio when an ambitious vision is trying to be fulfilled. The process, while exhilarating, can often feel lonely and anxiety inducing for fear of not being good enough.
Levav releases that pressure valve and reminds me that my musical influence is not confined to the level of excellence that this album strives for. My musical life is holistic. It is a raucous Shalom Aleichem around the Shabbat table, drumming and singing with Levav and Aaren to original Jewish music in our living room. My musical life is gathering sticks with my kid in the park and pretending they are trombones.
I am actively passing music along to the next generation and hope to reach many more kids like Levav along the way. Reverence for my studio music is a piece of the puzzle but the bigger picture is the love of music that I am part of spreading.
Rabbi Micah Shapiro is a graduate of the Hebrew College Rabbinical School. He is a musician and a rabbi. You can find more music by Micah on Spotify, on Apple Music and Youtube, including his new album Ta'ir Eretz (Light up the Earth)
Here are a few links to his beautiful music for any season.