A magical thing happened to me when I was 12 years old.
My mother, who had always been well versed in classic movies, had a rather large library of old musicals. Despite growing up as an adolescent in the 80’s and 90’s, I was raised watching actors like Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Audrey Hepburn, Rosemary Clooney and more.
The most impactual moment of my musical training happened to me while watching the 1945 classic movie “Anchors Aweigh” with Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly. About halfway through the film, there was a scene where the two actors (playing the parts of Navy Sailors) were trying to chase down a famous pianist/conductor named Jose Iturbi. They ended up sneaking into the Hollywood Bowl, sliding down a dirty hillside and running down rows of bleachers and chairs all the while the most magnificant thing was happening on the stage…
There, on the huge stage of the Hollywood Bowl, were 17 grand pianos in a half circle, with Jose Iturbi on the central piano playing and conducting. They were all simultaneously performing Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2. All at once – like a massive hive of bees just buzzing. away collectively. It was truly amazing. Some of the pianists were even children, maybe even the same age that I was at the time.
I must have rewound and watched that scene of the movie dozens and dozens of times. I was completely mesmorized.
Shortly thereafter, my mom bought me a copy of the sheet music for the Hungarian Rhapsody. Despite the fact that it was well beyond my playing capabilities at the time, I wanted to learn that piece of music so badly. I would spend hours a day practicing that song. Then I would go and watch the scene from the movie again. Then go practice some more. It was like this massive adult sized challenge and I was determined to conquer as a little 12 year old.
It was the moment of my life when I realized that music was neither hard or impossible. It just took a lot of hard work and dedication. Afterall, they were just notes on a page. And thus began my passion for the piano for years afterwards, leading to college, competitions, and now teaching and recording.
I will sometimes dig out that same movie scene and play it for select students who need to see something truly inspiring – which brings me to this post topic. There are actually many wonderful music-themed films out there that can be inspirational for students to watch. Just as it is beneficial to take students and children to concerts where they can experience live music, movies can be beneficial as well when they have a strong motivational message.
Here is my own personal top 10 list of movies about music, with number 1 being my most favorite. I have watched all of these films, and have written my two cents about each of them. All the movies are either G, PG, or PG-13. [···]