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Friday, March 28, 2014

Music Generations Groningen

After some years of making plans, (not) convincing possible partners and (not) finding money, finally this afternoon the first Groningen version of the Music Generations programme started after all. I was there to take a look, and I was proud.

Music Generations is a programme which aims at making an intergenerational production with amateur singers from the categories "25-" and "50+" (which makes me feel discriminated, but because that feeling will end in a few months I am not too worried).

It calls itself a talent development programme, and maybe it is. As you may know, I am not too big a fan of the Talent-buzzword; but politicians, policy-makers and money-investors are attracted by it, so talent development it is. But what I liked most about the first audition I saw this afternoon was not the talent-thing; it was the fact that people were allowed to do their own musical thing in public. People were allowed to present themselves as the musical persons they are, all their idiosyncrasies included.

They all deserve the workshops and masterclasses offered by the programme; and they all deserve to grow musically and to become even better than they already are. But what I really hope is, that in all that growing and becoming better they do not lose themselves. I hope they grow mainly in becoming even more of the  themselves they already are.

Because that is the great attraction of sessions like the one I witnessed this afternoon: it shows how music potentially is, in the words of my beloved Clifford Geertz, a meeting place to "enlarge the possibility of intelligible discourse between people quite different from one another in interest, outlook, wealth, and power, and yet contained in a world where tumbled as they are into endless connection, it is increasingly difficult to get out of each other’s way".

Monday, March 10, 2014

What It Really Is About

I am working ´in´ music. I teach about it. I talk about it. I write about it. I talk about teaching it. I write about teaching it. I teach about writing about it. I talk about writing about it. I teach about talking to write about it. Et cetera, ad infinitum, and sometimes ad nauseam (all this Latin to show that I am ´not from the street´, as we say in Dutch, or, ´reversely´, that I have ´street credibility´ in doing it).

And then, of course - talking about street credibility - I play it and I sing it.

But the secret of music lies not in the hands that move the pen or pluck the strings, nor in the mouth that sings the songs or speaks the words.

The secret lies in the ears that hear, and in the soul being moved.

At times, I become so tired with those hands and this mouth. It is all so haphazard, so unfruitful, so futile. I might as well do something else - I might be better off, and so might the rest of the world.

But then I return from a rehearsal of my beloved shanty choir. I sit in the car, I put on the stereo and I listen to Dave Rawlings' 'Bells of Harlem'. And I am dumbstruck with what the sounds of music continue to do to me. They uplift me, up to the point of annihilation.

And I realize that after all, there is probably nothing else I am supposed to do than to play it, sing it, speak about it, write about it, teach about it; if only to honor the listening to it.

So, let the dance continue.