20 September 2008
"John, do you think you could help out with the University Orchestra spring concert this year, as you did last year?"? And the music includes Dvořak's 9th (yes, it used to be called the 5th) symphony: "From the New World." Even if we were not going to be playing this at our December concert, I do not think I could have resisted. So here I am again doing seven evening and two week-end rehearsals - well, and here is Susan having to drive up those seven evenings to pick me up :-) It is a little odd, sitting amongst all these persons whose average age must be about 19 or 20 - odd, perhaps, most of all because it does not feel odd. Why are they here? Almost all of these people are majoring in music. Some will, I suppose, hope to work in music one day - but it's not much of a life. In terms of career-savvy, if you wanted to work in music, I wouldn't recommend a music major. Rather, do the 'grades' that my daughters Helen and Adele did; get your licentiate (from Trinity, perhaps, or Royal) - and get a degree in Education. Now you can teach in the schools at full salary. Certainly a select few will make it full-time as performers, but it's a hard go, chancy, poorly paid - and very unfriendly to anyone who wants to marry and have a family. I know quite a few serious musicians in the Manukau Orchestra who, nevertheless, major in Law, or Engineering, or something else that will feed them, and intend to reserve their music as an avocation. Then the break is over and we play again, and I know why they are here. Once you are caught, once you have that - whatever it is! - but that in your soul, you will play. You will play when you can. You will spend money and time that will bring you no worldly profit to play. If you are 66 years old, and not in the best of financial shape by any manner of means, nevertheless, you will spend the money and time necessarily to go to rehearsals; you will sweet-talk your wife into supporting you, though she herself does not play music; you will do quite a lot ... to play. As we thunder through to the tremendous end of the last movement, I am no longer even thinking of the people, even of the music itself. I am just taken up into it. At the best of times the sixty or so of us become the music. That is why we are here.