on listening

I was just watching a special feature that AMC produces with each new episode of Mad Men, where the creator of the show, Matthew Weiner, was describing the thematic subtext of the episode. It was about displacement, going away to another place, and being with who you want to be with while doing so. This gave me pause, as I hadn’t really been thinking about anything like that when watching the episode. Today, I realized that my experience was like that of many concertgoers who hear a piece of music, and are affected by it – sometimes deeply so – and aren’t aware of why. The piece of music can be completely and justifiably enjoyed without knowing how it is constructed or why it was constructed in that manner. Some pieces are better appreciated if their deep structure is known, but most music can simply be enjoyed (or not) on the listener’s own subjective criteria.

is music really just a luxury?

Sometimes, even we professional musicians begin to believe the sentiment that music is ‘just’ a luxury for people with too much disposable income. We forget that music is an activity that we have partaken in for as long as there have been humans (witness the ancient bone flute dating from over 35,000 years ago), and that is serves a deeply seated need to connect with something that transcends our everyday mortal existence in a way that even religion cannot even touch. Please, take a few minutes and watch this remarkable video excerpt from an upcoming documentary (opening in NYC this month) called Alive Inside:

$25K for portland public schools music

Peggy Swafford, former OSO violist and indefatigable champion of music education, has set up a project through the Music Education Assistance Project (a program of Local 99, American Federation of Musicians) to provide $25,000 to get much needed instruments for instrumental music instructors in the Portland Public Schools.  The programs are chosen by popular vote on Pepsi’s Refresh Everything website, which allows for people to set up projects online and use social media to rally people to their cause.  This is one case where the need is dire – please click over to Peggy’s project page and get her closer to her worth goal of providing Portland children with a musical education.  You can vote for the project once each day, and for nine other projects each day, so keep clicking and spread the word!