Vade Mecum – Background Music

I’m so easily distracted. I type this sitting down at the small writing desk in our bedroom. Here I was just going to take a minute to note the price of a jar of peanut butter on my electronic grocery list, but I saw Facebook opened with an announcement directed at seminary alumni. Then I saw that reading calendar I want to put in place for January 1. All the while my wonderful wife is downstairs teaching a piano lesson. Ah, and I remember what I wanted to write yesterday! I’m so easily distracted, so it is difficult for me to find music to play in the background while I work. If it’s too familiar, like most jazz albums, then I’m analyzing solos; too unfamiliar, like most internet radio, and the mood is broken. But yesterday and today there has come up the stairs into the room a simple sweet familiar sound of beginner piano music—not too loud, not too soft. It’s neither too familiar nor unfamiliar; neither too interesting nor too boring. I wonder if Pandora has a station that can reproduce this effect for me? How about creating a Faber and Faber station?

Of course what would we name the station? Vade mecum? You know the phrase from your childhood music lessons? If you’re unfamiliar, it’s Latin meaning “come go with me.” Mostly it is the title given to several different series of exercises across all instruments. The Vade Mecum of the Oboist was given to me as a saxophone exercise at some point in high school. Rather than simply play this page-length exercise, I was supposed to learn it as written then change the key signature and play it again. I don’t know that I ever completed the exercise, but I like the idea of it. Maybe I can add this to my expanding list of resolutions for the new year? Then I can record the results and add them to the new Pandora station. Or maybe the vade mecum of this year will be that reading calendar—the New Testament in Greek. Aim for the stars and land on the moon. Some disagree with this reading philosophy, but I’ve found it to work for me. Start, stop, restart, redo, try again, make progress, stop again, start again—restart again. Vade mecum? Come go with me this year as I start, stop, and restart again.

Which vade mecum do you use?
What is your background music?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *