Since my last post I enjoyed an impromptu video chat with a highly sensitive woman, just newly acquainted with my musical self. I was struck by her reference to Helen Keller’s response to the vibrations of a violin which, of course, she could neither see nor hear. It was startling because Helen Keller’s autobiography – highly recommended reading – is a testimonial to our human need for connection to one another, howsoever it may become real to us, at whatever age, in whatever circumstances.
Also in our chat was my recounting of my one-time experience guest-teaching a graduate seminar in Music Theory. My opening question: “Do you have a favorite note?”, greeted by a startled gasp from the instructor: “We never ask that question!”, was answered by an immediate raising of hands around the room.
Why do we never ask that question? Isn’t the personal connection to a tone on one’s instrument the critical link to the composer’s intention? And what is wrong with raising the question? What is wrong with questions?