I don’t remember exactly what I was saying – this conversation took place over a half century ago – but perhaps I was explaining why I choose to become a scholar rather than a musician. What I remember is Gren’s reply: You ARE a musician. After awhile he convinced me.
That is, we had to talk about it. I thought of a musician as someone who made a living performing music. I didn’t do that. To be sure, I made some money playing around town in a rock band and I’d spent years learning the trumpet. I’d marched in parades and at football games; I’d played concerts with various groups. But I wasn’t a full-time, you know, a professional musician, a real musician. Gren insisted that I was a musician because I played music, a lot, and was committed to it. That’s all that’s necessary.
He was right of course. I was a musician then and I’m one know. Three decades after that conversation I published a book, Beethoven’s Anvil: Music in Mind and Culture, in which I argued that music is what transformed groups of very clever apes into human beings. In THAT sense we’re all musicians. It’s our heritage.
Alas, too many of us have been robbed of that heritage and have been bamboozled into thinking that only special talented people should be making music. Nope. It’s time to flip the script. We’re born to groove. Read more »