Sunday, April 18, 2010

Riding home on the bus this morning I enjoyed a long talk with a neighbor whose son I taught many years ago. Addressing the exclusivity of much music training he remarked that anyone who has mastered an instrument has a lot about which to feel superior, i.e., exclusive.

The way I look at it, playing masterfully is the fulfillment of a personal need. The real job of the musician in our society is to open the field to more meaningful participation by more people; in other words, to address the needs of society. It could be argued that performance is a way of doing that. The effect that I observe from performance is that it too often reinforces the listener's sense of personal incapacity.

If I play well it is because doing so matters a lot to me. But that I have been instrumental (pun intended) in making music a fulfilling aspect of the lives of many others is my real achievement.

Some people regard that as confusing.