Imagine that you have been singing all your life. You’re not a professional, but you sing with the elementary school students in your fifth-grade class, you conduct a church choir, and you’re good. You have a nice voice, you can sing in tune and finding the right pitch is never a problem. Suddenly one day, everything changes. You can no longer find the correct pitches for a familiar song. You can hear them in your mind, and you can hear that you are singing not only out of tune, but hitting totally wrong notes – but you can’t fix it. You’re bewildered about what’s happening, and panic sets in. Continue reading
Albert Einstein, at or near the top of anyone’s list of “greatest scientists of the twentieth century,” revolutionized science with his theory of relativity. And what did he have to say about this discovery?
The theory of relativity occurred to me by intuition, and music is the driving force behind this intuition. My parents had me study the violin from the time I was six. My new discovery is the result of musical perception.*
According to Einstein’s sister, Maja: “After playing piano, he would get up saying There, now I’ve got it. Something in the music would guide his thoughts in new and creative directions.”**
And he told one of the founders of Gestalt psychology, Max Wertheimer (who wrote Productive Thinking, one of the classics about the creative process), that he never thought in logical symbols or mathematical equations, but in images, feelings, and even musical architectures.***
It would be difficult to find a more eloquent advocate for the study of music than Einstein. But all children are not going to be Einsteins, so why study music? Continue reading
My favorite photography collection is Contemporary Musicians in Photographs by Louis Ouzer. This 1979 Dover publication contains 119 photos of some of the world’s most famous musicians, from Rubinstein to Ellington, taken at the Eastman School of Music between 1940 and 1979. Ouzer, whose studio was a few doors down the street from Eastman, was a sort of “unofficial” photographer at the school for several decades. He captured the artists in unguarded moments – rehearsing, teaching, talking, thinking. Many of the photos were taken in the reflective moments just before the artist walked onstage for a performance. Continue reading