Fragile Oasis

Connecting Space and Earth: Learn. Act. Make a Difference.

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Music on the Spectrum

There is always someone playing music somewhere! Recently, I was lucky to see the spectrum from one end to the other.

First, I played onstage with the traditional Irish band The Chieftains at the Houston Symphony. Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfied joined us from aboard the International Space Station. Chris has been my friend, a fellow astronaut and a fellow band member for 20 years. Then, later in the week, I was an enthusiastic member of the audience for "Music Night" at my son’s school.

Chris Hadfield joined us from the International Space Station. That's Dan Burbank with his guitar on the right. More pictures here...

Maybe it comes from the special view of our planet that I had when I lived aboard the space station, but it is clear to me that at any given moment in time, at concert halls, coffee houses and stages around the world, there are musicians sharing the magic of music. Careers will be made or broken; veterans of 50 years like the Chieftains or Jethro Tull, with a mere 40 years to their name, will continue. For others -- like me and my coffee-house band, Bandella -- we just love what happens when we make music together, and we are happy to share it.

I played my flute when I lived on the space station and brought the flutes of others with me as well. We typically conduct a few hundred science experiments during our six month stays up on the station; but, in our limited spare time, we’re just people, and we have a need to express ourselves in whatever way feels right. For me, that’s music and sharing the wonder of the space station experience.

I think the photos show just how special it was for me to play on stage with some of the folks that I "played" with while I was aboard the space station. The list of space musicians is too long to publish here, but Chris Hadfield is the most recent to join the ranks. It felt just like old times when Bandella and the Chieftains shared the stage last week with him!

Somehow, being at my son’s school for Music Night brought the spectrum of musical experiences into focus for me. Many of these kids courageously stepped onstage for the first time. It could change their lives. And those of us who watched, who listened, who took the time to encourage them to share, we are part of making that difference for them.

Look at some of our videos of music up in space! You’ll find music past and music present. As for music future, keep in mind that the space musicians who will play on Mars are probably taking their first steps onstage at a middle school near you at Music Night!

Editor's note: Fragile Oasis is committed to inspiring everyone on planet Earth to use whatever skills and talents they have to take action to protect our planet. With Cady's call to action, we challenge the community to create projects in the Arts related to or inspired by space. We will soon unveil a toolkit to help you do just that!