“Music is what life sounds like.”
– Eric Olson
There are two common styles of playing the classics – sight reading or memorization.
Sight reading involves reading a page of notes and trying to play them without practice. Memorization means learning to play the music, training your brain and fingers to replay exactly what was written down without needing the written notes. Both are wonderful skills to practice and possess.
Making music, however, involves both. Read and play the notes. Memorize them. Understand them. Then there will be music.
Ironically though, it’s not the composer’s music that you’re playing. It’s yours.
No matter how hard we try, we can’t replicate a piece of classic music exactly because music comes from the interpretation of the notes by the musician, adapting it to his era, and his ear. The same piece of written music is never really played the same way twice. It’s the musician’s music, guided by the hand of the composer.
Life is no different.
We have philosophical, historical, and religious books from which we can read and repeat the instructions. We can memorize them and try to play them back exactly, but our interpretation will always be different because the context is different and we are different.
There’s no point in trying to live exactly by the book, or someone else’s book. We can (and perhaps should) take their advice and follow their guidance. We can see the beauty they put down on score or script. We can hear their music or relish in their words. But we cannot repeat their magnificence without writing our own book or composition. How we interpret each word or note is our decision, resulting in only one thing. Our life’s composition.
It’s within our interpretation (and misinterpretation) of the great words and notes where lies the music of life.
Yesterday’s gift of time … Took my daughter to her clarinet lesson. She may be repeating the notes written on a page, but she’s actually writing her own life’s music.
Special note – Congratulations to my son Zachary for becoming 1 of only 300 semi-finalists in the Broadcom Masters science competition out of 6000 entrants. You can read a little bit about his journey here and here.