I traveled abroad for the first time when I was 19. The only thing that I knew about travel was that I was supposed to have a camera and comfortable shoes.
Most of my time in Europe was spent on my own. I would wander around cities, towns and countryside with my big camera snapping pictures of interesting things. The Berlin Wall, the Eiffel Tower, statues, cows, people.
I watched people go about their lives, kids going to school, conversations in coffee shops, folks riding the bus to work. I felt like I was on the outside of a fish bowl looking in. But I wanted to be on the other side of the glass. I wanted to interact with people, not just photograph them.
It was many years later that I discovered how music helped bridge that divide for me. Now when I travel, I‘m more likely to have a violin on my shoulder than a camera.
Not so long ago, Kayla, one of my first students, sent me a picture of her playing music with a young girl on her trip to Indonesia.
It is a wonderful photo — a young girl with a head scarf closing her eyes as she cradles a mic, Kayla looking towards the singer to anticipate the next phrase, the children surrounding them. It is an image of contrast and community.
People’s favorite travel stories usually involve an interaction with someone they met. Stories of being on the other side of the glass that separates tourists from everyone else.
Because Kayla has strong ears, a healthy dose of confidence, and travels with her violin, she was able to engage and interact with people she might otherwise have only been able to observe from the outside.