It is useful to think of the music we learn as gifts. Sometimes they are gifts from bygone times, like music from 1820; sometimes they are from living composers. Our mothers taught us to be gracious when receiving presents because it engenders gratitude, which in turn helps the gift cycle continue. Even if we bought the sheet music, the content is mysterious. I like to think of music coming from a from different realm, a magical time and place. It is as if we open the special window to infinity and the work comes in.girona garden

When my grade 7 band class played a Bach Prelude and Fugue, something special happened. The various entries in the fugue danced around building up intensity so that when we finally entered quickly one after the other - in the stretto - my spine tingled. This was my first sublime musical encounter. By this time I had taught myself to play a bit of guitar, but nothing had prepared me for such a marvelous experience.

When we measure things we tend to examine that which is easiest to quantify. In music this devolves to speed, volume and dexterity. Once as a judge in a music competition I was told the candidate I preferred had made [gasp] three mistakes. I had been impressed because she had made it to the finals only the week before and gave a completely different rendition of the same song,which made it just as moving as the first time I heard it. Other candidates I was told had sung very complicated material and made no errors. I had found it difficult to listen to them I said because they were on autopilot. When you listen for feeling, autopilot does not deliver. I was lucky that the diction judge had to give the highest marks to my preferred musician. It was a Portuguese music competition and the candidates were also graded on this aspect of their performance. This was my first disagreement with judges and it still befuddles me that someone listens for mistakes!

When we commodify art we measure that which can be measured and begin to think in transactional terms. Mistakes are bad, difficult is good. Like wiki entries which first include how long a pop song was on the charts, or how much money a film made. A band class needs to play things that make the parents happy.

Under these conditions we forget the sublime, and those feelings, which sweep us away, are replaced by the joys of hearing Dancing Queen and Taking Care Of Business arranged for wind ensemble.

Nasrudin’s wife was pregnant and one night, her labor pains started so Nasrudin called the midwife. Soon a call came from his wife's room, " Nasrudin, you have a son!"

He was very happy until a few minutes later the midwife called out again," Nasrudin! You also have a girl." After a little while, she called out again," Nasrudin! You have another girl!"

Nasrudin, who had been outside of his wife's room, went in the room and blew out the candle. "What are you doing?" asked the midwife.

"It seems everyone who sees the light wants to come out. This should improve the situation?" he answered.