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Philosophy & Guidance for Parents and Students

Many times in life, we learn exactly what we thought we would learn. Our experience really does match our expectation. However, sometimes we can learn far more than we had ever imagined. I have found that if we are open to what is possible, that even if it is with only a little bit of faith, as long as we can from time to time, regularly be in the presence of another who also is open to what is possible, that amazing things can happen. When that other person has had the benefit of much life experience and thoroughly knows that one’s perception of how he sees himself is of the highest priority; then, what is created is an open door that one can help another move through.

In my own life, there were a few chosen people, who helped me immensely. They shared with me, how to move through that open door and I know that life was never ever the same as a result. I learned that before we can really be free to be all we can be, that we first must learn to value being honest with ourselves and have an allegiance to truth. I learned how important it is to be able to forgive ourselves and others, and that we can move through life in "lah -lah” land or in awareness. Before we can become aware of what is around us, we must first learn much about ourselves. If we can cultivate an extremely healthy sense of humor in the midst of this lifelong adventure, the odds are stacked in our favor, that we will still be sane in our later years.

Reading the above surely will give many reason to question why someone as I would not first be discussing music. My reply is that as a composer, as a performer, as a teacher, and as a student of all of life, music is exactly what I am discussing. As a teacher, it is my turn to share with others what was so generously shared with me. It is a privilege to teach. No one teacher is the best teacher for every student. As a performer, it has felt as though a million times I have heard an adult tell me that as a child, he had had piano lessons, but didn’t want to practice; so parents stopped the lessons. Too seldom do I hear of parents searching for a different teacher for their youngster. It needs to be widely understood, that sometimes, all that is needed is a different teacher! Students can respond differently to different teachers AND vice versa! Stopping lessons is not always the correct move.

When I welcome a new student, along with him come the results of everything he has experienced and processed prior to our meeting. What I wish to convey is that the person we are is not separate from the musician we can become. If we have a chip on our shoulder, there is no way that we can play music with great love and there surely is no way that music played by a person in such a condition, can possibly touch a listener with its beauty. If a performer is trapped in negative feelings about himself and his world, there is no joy. There is no love to be shared. I know "beyond the shadow” that music is God’s gift to us. Within the composing, study and performance of music, there is the stunning awareness that the MOST important things in life are the things we cannot see, yet know intensely. I know that these things are written in our hearts before we ever arrive on earth.

It is with great conviction that I want to go on record as saying: that though we may discuss all of the elements of music, be it in a scholarly way or merely casually, until the world can see the laboratory measured results of what happens to all of the physical, psychological and spiritual responses that can be medically evaluated in a person’s whole being, in response to music listened to and experienced, then music is not fully understood at all. In fact, I can imagine that if we did comprehensively know the true effects of tones on the body and mind, that we would demand the same precision and care from our musicians that we most certainly expect from our surgeons!

Music can be a vehicle of love or hate, of inspiration or degradation, of beauty or cunning manipulation and the ultimate of control. Intention and perception do spell the result.

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