Tag Archives: music

I am, like, a really stable, great showman

Slight spoilers ahead sweeties.

The line for The Greatest Showman was long and we’d been burned once before with the rare phenomenon of sold out sessions. Still, we lined up, got our choc tops and got a good seat in the small theatre. We even kindly made room by moving up our row so two people could fit in. We’re good people.

We suffered through the insufferably long advertisements, preview, advertisements, preview show during which time I dropped chocolate on my dress three times. Not that I was counting or anything. Man, that Liam Neeson film looks like Garbage. The Commuter. Jeez.

FINALLY it started. Now, I’ll just mention that everyone I have spoken to about this film has flipping raved about how much they loved it, how great it was, how great Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron are, etc etc blah blah *insert emoji face with love hearts for eyes here*. And in my humble film watching experience this is frequently a sign that I am going to be disappointed. Even when Margaret and David would give something four to five stars, expectations were immediately set right up there and nothing lived up to the hype.

The Greatest Showman was no exception. Bloody hell. Can this film be any more contrived and stagey? Why do all the songs sound exactly the same and I can’t remember one of them 3 minutes after leaving the cinema? Why on earth if they’re making a musical set in the 19th century would they not use music appropriate to the time instead of these freaking awful stomping power rock, hip hop, pop shite? I know that’s trendy. Hamilton I’m looking at you. But it was awful. That thing they wrote for the character of Swedish nightingale Jenny Lind to sing was so dreadful I wondered if it was meant to be a terrible joke. I really expected the audience in the film to burst into laughter. It could not have been less subtle. It was the opposite of subtle. It was almost crude in its beltingness.

If Hugh’s performance had been any more twinkly-eyed and twinkly-toed he would have exploded into his own constellation. Settle down man. You’re not in the Boy from Oz now. Listen carefully. Sometimes it’s okay to dial down the charm. Stop it with the charisma. Overloaded. You’re in danger of tipping over the edge into Tom Cruise-territory and we know that leads nowhere good. Zac Efron – your best performance was and always will be in Hairspray. I lurved you in that. Because you got the joke. You were in on it. Here you are a little bit of the joke. You can dance and sing and everything but that revoltingly saccharine thing you had twirl around to about stars or summink with Zendaya was embarrassing. I was quietly cringing in my seat. How did you keep a straight face? The director showed admirable restraint in not having her give you the kiss of life while you were dying of smoke on the stretcher after the big fire. It would not have been out of place here. Anyhow hey ho you survived to dance the finale. Good job. Michelle Williams had little to do except wear a lovely blonde wig and support Hugh in his never-ending quest for acceptance. She did this quite gracefully even when she had to be standing in the breeze waiting for him to come and see her at the seaside in one of the concluding scenes.

I know what you might be thinking. Wendy. Stop being such a grinch. It’s just good old fashioned entertainment. Well old-fashioned certainly. Good? Nope. Instantly forgettable? Pretty much. One-dimensional? Indeed. Absolutely cardboard-cut-outty? For sure. A waste of talented cast? Definitely.

As I sat through it musing, three thoughts came to mind.

  1. PT Barnum = Donald Trump. I am the greatest showman. I am very stable genius and really smart. Does saying it really make it so? Was PT Barnum the originator of “alternative facts”, hoodwinking and hoaxing his public? Does someone want to trace that line back? I don’t. I’m too lazy. Is this the film musical we deserve in this time? I think it might be. Depthless. Surface. Spectacle. Guy Debord was and is still relevant.
  2. Seinfeld 1992. As always, Kramer said it plainly and clearly.  People want to watch freaks. Because that’s as thoughtful as The Greatest Showman gets about its circus acts as well. What would have been interesting would have been less Hugh Jackman and more about the stories and lives of the (and I hesitate to use the word) “freaks” in Barnum’s act, perhaps actually addressing the issue of exploitation in some kind of nuanced way.
  3. In fact, there’s probably an amazing documentary or biographical film to be made about PT Barnum. This isn’t it. And maybe we can say that’s because it’s a light and fluffy musical. But musicals don’t have to be light and fluffy and I think this one is really disappointing because it chose that path.

Now I know that I’m doing that terrible thing where I’m criticising a film for not being what I wanted it to be, rather than on its own merits. And it does have some merits in a talented cast and what I imagine was a huge amount of money spent on costume, design etc etc. It’s bling from start to finish. That’s not a compliment.

Ultimately thought, I think that we, the film going public deserve better. More effort to make a film where we engage with the characters. Where they are actually engaging – where the actors are given material to work with that they can use to engage us that doesn’t entail anachronistic white teeth and really shiny hair. Yes. Even in a musical. I direct you to Strictly Ballroom and Chicago to name but two.

Come on now.


NB. The Last Jedi was still worse. Much much much worse.





I’m down…

The Beck Song Reader project continued today with the second song in the album: “I’m down and this town is a nuisance”.

The direction on the sheet music was “Shuffle”. I spent some time googlerising this and looking at the different between shuffle and swing. Subtle differences but basically don’t play the quavers evenly….swingish them. See how made a verb there. What I really liked about this one was not just the cute lyrics (look em up I’m not retyping them here….but also the fact that there are two verses, two bridges and no real chorus.

I interpreted it as a slow country kind of ballad. And then I added the initial vocal and I was going to leave it at that….but then I remembered the challenge set out by Beck in the album notes. Make it your own. So I added one harmony line. And then I added another harmony line. And then, before I turned into a one-women version of the Bee Gees I stopped. The harmony is a bit rough and ready in places (understatement) but I decided to resist my classically trained impulse to seek perfection and leave in the off bits….recorded live…straight into Garage Band on my IPad Pro. Yes, I know. It’s not quite sound studio we all dream of but it does me.

As always I’m hyper-critical of my untrained, ornery singing but I remind myself that the point of this little hobby-project is not to sing like a professional. It’s to discover the music that Beck has written, play and sing it and make it real. For me. So here it is:

And as always, once I had done my thing, I searched for Beck’s version. Here’s a nice live one. A bit rockier, rockabilly, or summink. I love it.

Anyone. Even you.

Let’s get something established right from the get go. I’m a Beck fan. Is he a Scientologist? I don’t care. He can write songs. It’s perhaps no surprise that I have eventually come to his 2012 Song Reader. It perhaps is a surprise that it has taken me until 2017. Or perhaps it isn’t.


The Song Reader is an album….of sheet music.  Unrecorded sheet music on release. This was exciting I remember thinking at the time. It immediately caught my imagination but I wasn’t going to send to the USA to get it and living in little old Bundaberg it wasn’t easily available, so it sat “out there” (gestures to far horizon beyond my mind) for some time until just over a year ago I stumbled upon it on the specials table in the QAGOMA store. Bargains!! I snapped it up, brought it home and immediately put it to one side.

Until today. I was vaguely aware the songs had been recorded in the intervening years. I had somehow, studiously avoided them, while purchasing other Beck music in the meantime. Strange?

Maybe you came to Beck as I did when Triple J flogged “Loser” to pieces in the early 1990s.

Slacker, grunge (proto-hipster) Beck was in danger of being a one-trick pony, a one hit wonder. In fact for a while he was.

But then there was One Foot in the Grave with it’s astonishing stripped back, folk-pop-vibe of wonderful songs and the stunning clip (which I can’t find) of Beck with Willie Nelson. Recorded before Mellow Gold but released after it. It’s a favourite. They’re all favourites!

Prolific is Beck. The Grammy award winning Odelay has every song an immediate hit and classic. Dance grooves like you’ve never heard them. Perfect songs. I bought my CD copy in Hervey Bay’s last independent record store the day after it swept up the Grammy awards. I listened to it for what seemed like forever. How about Where It’s At.  Go on…. click on the link. You won’t regret it.

Mutations. Midnite Vultures. Guero. Morning Phase. Sea Change. Modern Guilt.

I may have missed some. All different yet all quintessentially Beck in their variation and willingness to delve into different musical styles and genres and, in doing so, create his very own Beck-ness. I’m about to get to the most recent release Colours.

Hiding in there though was the Song Reader. Until today I didn’t know what any of the songs sounded like. That was the point. For me, the “reader”, to discover it in my own way and in my own time. Just like music used to be published and discovered. Sheet music. Around the piano. At home. In the living room. The parlour. The lounge. So I guess you could say that it’s publication in 2012 by McSweeney’s meant it wasn’t the most accessible “album” of Beck’s in that you have to make the sound yourself. That seems like an effort in our age of instant gratification and immediacy. That seems like it might take time. Like there’s a danger that we might not “get it” the first time. Or if we do, it might be different the second time. Or the third. Or the numbers that come after that.


That’s how popular music used to be distributed. Yeah. Sheet music. Single song sheet music. And in doing so, there wasn’t just one version of a song. There was less of the authoritative version. There were many more individual versions. Interpretations. Made by people just like you and me. So what a gift is the Song Reader. We’re actually meant to participate in the music-making and listening process. Beck is asking us to! What a guy.

Indeed he says as much in the Preface that is included in the album.


“not so long ago, a song was only a piece of paper until it was played by someone. Anyone. Even you.”

Beck is even keen for us to get a little bit creative with our interpretations. He says as much. What’s this change the lyrics and the chords? Will it still be his song? Of course it will. That’s just what happens in the “in-between” with sheet music when the songwriter launches it into the universe and the amateurs take it up and do there best.



And so today I did. I am the “Anyone. Even you” Beck is talking to in his Preface. I can play the piano. I can sing in a thin, reedy, not very attractive manner. This song came to life for me in the very playing. I recorded it lo-fi style (cheers Beck!) using Garage Band on my IPad. You can hear the back ground noise and the crunchiness at the end as I moved the device to stop recording. That’s okay. That’s normal. Music isn’t meant to be all auto-tuned perfection. We’ve come to think that’s normal. There was musical life before that.

The first song in the Song Reader is “Don’t Act Like Your Heart Isn’t Hard”. Beautiful cover art and a snippet of a song on the back (also written by Beck) just like old-time sheet music used to have as the publishers advertised their other songs. What I loved about this one was its reference to Tin Pan Alley and it’s sweet easy melody and simple chord progression. If it was a recorded album it’d be a cracker first track to get the people in.


I deliberately didn’t listen to any other version until after I sang and recorded it. Because once you’ve heard a song you’re covering it….you’re not interpreting what you found on the paper. Beck would probably find my version fairly pedestrian. Here’s him singing it. Heck even I find my version pedestrian. He takes a snappier tempo and welcomes in the mouth organ and guitar.

I may get a little more adventurous as I continue through the album.

So for your listening interest:

Good enough is not good enough


Let me share with you the 24 hours that were the Queensland Symphony Orchestra’s A Day with the Orchestra. I went with Kate (of Kate and Wendy fame) to Brisbane on Friday. We left early. Much earlier than I like to get out of bed anyway which if you know me probably is a normal time for you.

We went to Villanova where Kate became Miss Kate and conducted St Patrick’s Senior Strings to a Gold. I helped tune a lot of small violins that have a tendency to go outrageously out of tune really quickly after being tuned within an inch of their lives. Miss Kate was very patient. I played the piano accompaniments for the group while they performed.

Then we skedaddled out of there. It was after 3 and we had to make a flying, unplanned visit to the string shop (new set of strings for me and a beautiful new lightweight case for Miss Kate who now turned back into Kate). And then it was off to South Brisbane to book into our motel with my Mum.

We had to be at the ABC Studio at Southbank by 6 for a 6:30 rehearsal start. Were we excited? Yes we were. Were we a little bit nervous? I think we both were. Well I was. Had we practised our parts enough. We blinking hoped so. As Kate so articulately put it as we walked through the bougainvillea arbour with our instruments “Shit’s about to get real”.

What is A Day in the Orchestra? It’s one of QSO’s community programs. Normal peeps like us (that is non-professional players) apply to take part in rehearsals and a public performance alongside QSO musicians. We’d spent a month learning a program of music and there was 24 hours to get it all together.

First rehearsal Friday night was everyone together. Read through. With Richard Davis stepping into the breach as conductor as Alondra de la Parra was unable to be there at the last minute. We met our desk partners from QSO. Good. Nice. Helpful. Hopefully understanding of the fact that it had been years since I’d had the opportunity to play in a group of this size. Time flew! We’d survived and we’d survived intact.

Weary though, we stopped off for chai and churros before heading upstairs to bed. Where both of us proceeded to toss and turn all night as fragments of the scores danced relentlessly through our heads.

No time for naps though. Saturday morning we headed in to the Studio for 9:30 sectional rehearsals. This was great. Details. Articulation. Accents. Geography of the bow. Fingering options. All discussed. I liked our discussion of the various “gathering points” for my section. That is, if all else fails, get to THIS BAR and get back together. The difference between orchestral and solo/small group playing was discussed. Survival is key. Do everything (and anything) you can to survive. This is a philosophy of playing I can get on board with 🙂

Then a break and back together from 2pm on Saturday for another full orchestra rehearsal. This time we went for details. And key sections. And details. What’s more, it was fun! Really playing. Feeling confident.

And then a quick dinner of rice paper rolls before a final rehearsal at 6 and then a concert in the Studio at 7.

Well that’s all very interesting Wendy but what did you learn? What were you reminded of?

Here’s a list in no particular order:

  1. Keep your expectations high. Of others. Of myself.

2.  Always always try harder than you think you can. You will surprise yourself.

3. Never get complacent. That way leads to boredom and frustration.

4. Enjoy the process as well as the performance.

5. There are many ways to solve a musical problem. Find the one that’s right for you. It might not be the same as the person next to you.

6. Turn up to every rehearsal prepared. Practise at home. There is no time for note learning in a rehearsal. In fact that is not a rehearsal.

7. Love the music. It’s all about the music.

8. Remember a pencil. You will always need it.

9.  Good enough is not good enough. Strive each time.

10. Help whoever you can. Smile. Be encouraged and be encouraging.

11. Be grateful for the family and friends who support you. They are indeed rare gems of people.

Here is one of the great pieces that we played…..from the Youtubes. It’s a new favourite.

Augusts with Wendy

A few years ago, Tuesdays became my least favourite day of the week. It was all accidental obviously, but there was a year when Tuesdays always seemed to go pear-shaped. Bad news would arrive. I’d have a headache. Little irritations that just took the glow off Tuesday. I became a little obsessed with the stupidness of Tuesday. And then it went away.

These days it’s a month. August. Over the last few years August has not covered itself in glory. In fact, it’s been a bore, a pain in the rear, a month of boring Sundays that never seem to end while we wait for the first sniff of Spring. It’s been like that again this year, except, this year, 2017, I’m fighting back.

On the weekend I did a violin exam. This was a self-imposed challenge I set myself about 7 weeks ago, which isn’t actually very long to get organised for a music exam. But I was becoming unhappy with my violin-ing. (That’s not a technical term for playing the violin but it is my term). I’d put in lots of hours in 2014 and 2015 relearning and learning technical skills, bringing my playing to a standard where I was able to pass my Associate diploma exam. That was also a self-imposed challenge. It was a now or never, early mid-life crisis kind of moment. Either pick the violin back up again – fix myself up – and do it properly – or resign myself to never ever playing something like “well”. It was immensely rewarding. Then I preceded to get myself a lovely new instrument and faffle around without much consistent practice at all, thereby losing some of the work I’d done in the previous two years. Silly billy much?

So it was time. Stretch myself again. Set myself a goal. Am I goal oriented? Indeedy I am. Without something to work towards nothing happens. As soon as I put the entry in June, things started happening. In my impulsiveness to do something for myself I forgot it would be happening in August. The horrible month. The month I just try to survive. I struggled with a lack of motivation, but the deadline sitting out there on 12 August eventually got me moving. And then I managed to get myself involved in the CRUSH Festival’s Text as Art exhibition. As a writer. I applied for this. October is when it happens so I hadn’t considered the fact that I would need to write something in August. That’s now. Another deadline is looming. Damn you August, making me think about stuff. And then, I managed to successfully apply for QSO’s A Day in the Orchestra which is coming up this weekend. That’s right. A weekend in August. Suddenly I had HEAPS of music to practice and not much time to do it in. And I had something to write too.

These things are all challenges I zeroed in on and set for myself. I’m thinking now that these things – the exam, the QSO, the Text as Art – might all have been ways that I am making myself cope with August. Yeah that’s right. The old subconscious has been at work. August might be my least favourite month in the year after February. August can still be cool. The sun isn’t up early and I have trouble motivating myself in the morning to GET OUT OF BED. However, I am forcing my self to do stuff. To not give in to August’s Augustiness. Its lethargy. I will beat you August. You will not get me down. Yes I might be lying in bed until the last possible moment every morning, necessitating that I eat breakfast at work, but I will be busy, active and doing new things whether I like it or not.

Without realising it I had filled August to the brim with experiences that are asking me to move out of my comfort zone. What does my comfort zone look like? Basically it’s a brown sofa with lots of throw pillows and an Apple TV remote close at hand. Just right for the usual, dull August. I’ve spent a lot of the last few months sitting there watching reruns of Will and Grace. Clearly, I’m telling myself this needs to stop. September is just around the corner and I need to be prepared. So this year I’m thankful for August. Perhaps I’ve broken its nasty spell at last…….

a timeless, shining song became home

Reading this post earlier in the week* transported me back to the time when I returned home after a term at university. Long ago. Before the time of constant contact enabled by technology like the my smartphone, which is never more than a few feet away from me, and social media which is my continual companion.

Then, leaving home meant lining up at the pay phone with spare change to call home once or twice a week. Outside in the cold of Toowoomba, standing in a queue with the other first years, wondering what the heck we had got ourselves into. Thinking on it now, it’s a miracle I survived. I was neither particularly independent, intrepid or ready for the world.

Naive would be perhaps be a kind description. Homesick could have been another.

But adjust I did and quickly. That first year away, studying music was one of discovery – of Brahms’ symphonies, new violin concertos, piano repertoire, REM, Nirvana, Triple J with Helen and Mikey (when it was good), hyper colour t-shirts (never owned one), Levis, making new friends and starting on the journey to being an adult.

It was a puzzling jolt to come home and catch up with school friends who I used to spend every day with and realise that we no longer had anything in common.

Scene: the Bundaberg Pizza Hut Restaurant in 1991, with my peers. (Yes it existed and yes it did have the “salad bar” with the bacon bits).

“What was the best thing about uni and living on campus?”

“It’s great how I don’t have to eat pumpkin if I don’t want to”.

I’ll just clarify this was not my answer but it was significant.

Our paths had diverged.

Pumpkin Schumpkin. I could care less. I wanted to know about other stuff.

What about the learning? What do you think about the world? What makes you laugh, cry,  get angry or have some other kind of emotional response to the universe now? What films have you seen, books read, new music found and heard, TV discovered? These were the conversations I’d been having at uni. My school friends were also at uni. Why were we talking about pumpkin?

I remember nothing else about the great 1991 Pizza Hut get together. Not even the pizza. It didn’t happen again. Perhaps she eats pumpkin now, perhaps she doesn’t. And the Pizza Hut Restaurant is now Officeworks.

At the end of 1991 I was home for the holidays. I was uptown Christmas shopping and for the first time ever I heard Here Comes the Sun playing over the muzak. It shimmered.

So we continue to return home. We’re not who we were. Home still welcomes us. And points of resonance emerge in unlikely places.

That Christmas in 1991 I received the Abbey Road CD.

I hadn’t asked for it.

The timeless, shining song became home.



*thanks Theo.


How do you “cope”?

Firstly, congratulations to me for waiting 24 hours to write this post instead of ripping it yesterday when I had my Ranty McRantface happening.


In through the nose.

Out through the mouth.

Repeat for 24 hours.

But, I hear you ask in great wonderment, what had you so riled Wendy that you were ready to claw someone’s face off just like in the movie Face Off (note: haven’t seen Face Off so I’m not sure if that is the plot but let’s say it is for the purposes of this post)?

Excellent question lovely readers. You’re very lovely. Well done.

Let me eventually get to the point by restating to you a question that was asked of moi twice in a 72 hour period by intelligent, bright people who I really like and have lots of time for.

Q: Say Wendy, how do you cope, you know, intellectually, living in Bundaberg?

WTF. Had they turned into snobs while I wasn’t looking? Or were they really curious? Either way Houston we have a problem. Before we get down to business, I’ll just point out a couple of things.

  1. This is not the first time in my life I have been asked this question
  2. One of the questioners actually lived here for 20 years, raising a family, working, doing stuff, you know, the whole box and dice.

(Two things. I pointed out two things)

So I guess the thing about this question is it immediately implies that Bundaberg is an intellectual wasteland located in a cultural desert devoid of anyone of any smarts, interestingness, capacity to hold a conversation in words of more than one syllable, ability to form opinions about the world and our place in it and other such qualities which are clearly available only to those who are blessed and clever enough to be living in our capital cities and their immediate surrounds.

I may exaggerate here given that part of my reaction to the question was to feel tremendously insulted and patronised. As a result, in both instances, I stumbled out a response that probably appeared to apologise for my life and did nothing to further either questioner’s impression of the aforementioned intellectual wasteland that, in their minds, is regional Australia.

I tweeted out a little of my rage yesterday afternoon and as usual Twitter came back with the commonsense and support I have come to expect from my little corner of this life-saving social media platform. Thanks twitter sphere. Ace.

So in no particular order here are some of the things I shoulda/coulda responded with:

  1. I don’t understand. I’ve spent so long repressing any semblance of my intellectual capabilities and dumbing myself down so I can fit in with the locals that I don’t reflect on my life or my circle of like-minded people. I just play the pokies from 11am onwards using my Newstart allowance while I leave the kids in the car with the family pet during the long hot days of summer.
  2. Mmmm, cope intellectually you say. Well, I’ve just this minute arrived from a string quartet rehearsal where we worked on the first movement of Schubert’s String Quintet in C Major under the guidance of a retired professional musician who (among other things in a long and successful career) was a close personal friend of Sir Neville Marriner from the Academy of St Martin in the Fields. Perhaps you’ve heard of them? No? Heavens to Betsy and you call yourself chockas with culture living down there in the big city.
  3. Cope? Intellectually? Well I’ve never had to worry about those two words in the same sentence or question before. I’ve been too busy chatting with my awesome friends and family about things like music, art, education, politics, and other such topics on a daily basis. Perhaps you’ve heard of them. They’re quite popular as conversational issues.
  4. Intellectual coping skills? Oh no. I don’t have any. I just wake every morning weeping at my own idiocy for living here where it only takes 5 mins to get to the grocery shop, beach, doctors, movies, cafes. Did I mention there are no toll roads or confusing tunnels and we have real chai available? Oh we’re also able to listen to exactly the same radio programs on RN AS YOU CAN IN THE CITY and we do also have the same TV stations. Have you heard of Netflix, Stan, ITunes? NO – of well we have access to them too so we keep up pretty well.
  5. Social media? Oh, sorry, you refuse to use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Social Media platform of your choice. How do you manage to read the New York Times, The Guardian, Slate, The Atlantic, The Saturday Paper, read First Dog on the Moon cartoons, read Longreads, and the zillion other great intellectually stimulating and interesting stuff that comes into my phone everyday? What’s that? You subscribe to The Australian? In hard copy? Oh….I’m sorry. I didn’t realise.

Okay, so maybe Ranty McRantface hasn’t disappeared completely (and perhaps has been joined by Sarcastic McCynicalFace) but I’m tired of this garbage. Let me state in no uncertain terms just so we’re all clear.

There are smart and stupid people everywhere. Yes. Everywhere. Even in the city.

There are good and bad people everywhere. Yes. Everywhere. Even in the city.

There are boring people everywhere. Yes. Everywhere. Even in the city.

There are kindred spirits for each and everyone of us. Sometimes they’re in the city and sometimes they’re in the regions. Sometimes they’re online and you’ve never met them IRL. That doesn’t even matter. I “cope” by seeking them out. By stumbling across them and being delighted. I do just what you do living in the big smoke. We’re all the same.

So check your metropolitan-intellectual privilege at the door please if you’re coming to visit me. I ain’t got time for that shit.

Shout out to my tribe of kindred spirits. You’re all totes amazing.

Off guard

The music caught me off guard (although why I’m on guard all the time is perhaps a topic for another time).

But I wasn’t expecting to cry. I’ve heard lots of Bach before. Geez. I’ve heard the G major Prelude from the first Cello suite before. Many times. By students. By famous people. On recordings. On the old Youtube. It’s never made all weepy and emotional.

But on Saturday evening it did.

As Louise King played the first bars of Bach’s well known Prelude from the G major suite for cello I got a lump in my throat. Tears starting to burn in my eyes. Pull it together woman. Why would this make you cry? t

It’s taken me a few days to work out why. Or at least try to sort it out. (Because of course music is always going to keep its secrets.)

For the first 24 hours after the concert I thought it was because of the setting. We were in the art gallery not in a concert hall. I was in the back row and I was only a few metres from the cello. It was close. It was visceral. The sound didn’t have far to travel. Vibrating. Affective.

Well that must have been it then. Done. Sorted. Aren’t I clever to have worked that out.

But then on Monday afternoon I went to a workshop about performance. Here’s what I typed into my phone as Louise shared her knowledge and experience with the workshop.


Take risks, she said. As a performer you must play with your heart open. You must take risks. Be brave.

And then I realised that this was what had been so affecting. She had played with her heart open. To the music. To Bach. To us the audience. And this formed a connection between her through the music to me. And it made me teary. The sonority of G major, the beautifully ornamented, structural harmonic perfection that is Bach. Of course it was affecting. How could it not be visceral. Sound has impact. This sound was vital. Charged with energy in its execution. This was a generous performer who shared her musicality with her audience.

Generosity, I’ve been thinking, is becoming a rare quality. When we find it in others it is to be treasured. We should cultivate it in our daily life and interactions. Why? Because without it, we are wrapped up only in ourselves. We have no capacity for empathy, for sympathy, for listening, for caring.

If a musician, or indeed any artist is generous the connections they make, the networks they forge will be strong and lasting.

It’s good to be off guard. That’s when memories that last a lifetime are made. That’s when friendships are formed.

So to risk living life with an open heart towards all experiences is to cast off my guard. Because here will come the potential for shared, lived experiences. Experiences that we might hear, might see…experiences that might bring me to tears….or laughter. Or perhaps both.

Experiences that remind me of what it is to be human.