Do You Talk With Your Hands?

A few years ago I heard a story from a composer who had just returned from a trip to Asia. While teaching a master class in South Korea, he noticed that one pianist had meticulously written the hymn text on the piano arrangement she was studying. When he asked her about the markings, she explained that reading the words while playing helped her focus on the meaning behind the music and ensured the text would shine through her musical interpretation.

Scrabble letters spelling the word love in the palm of a hand.

As musicians, whether it be as pianists, organists, choir directors, hand bell players or instrumentalists, we are called on to talk with our hands. The motions of our hands convey the message behind the music. Love, peace, grace, sorrow, celebration – they can all be shared if we use our hands skillfully and wisely.

But musicians don’t have the corner on the hand-talking market. Any time someone uses their hands (and heart!) to do something well in a spirit of service: build a bridge, build a relationship, balance a budget, balance a serving tray, change a tire or change a diaper, that person sends a clear message of love and compassion.

How do you talk with your hands?