Music Quotes

Music - medicine for the heart, mind and soul

Thank you to my friend and colleague Sharon Omura for sharing this with me. This is the Welcome Address that Karl Paulnack, Director of Music Division at the Boston Conservatory delivered to students and their parents in 2004. It's a moving speech on why art matters and more specifically, why music matters. There are many quotes I like in his speech. This is just one of them:

"If we were a medical school, and you were here as a med student practicing appendectomies, you'd take your work very seriously because you would imagine that some night at two AM someone is going to waltz into your emergency room and you're going to have to save their life. Well, my friends, someday at 8 PM someone is going to walk into your concert hall and bring you a mind that is confused, a heart that is overwhelmed, a soul that is weary. Whether they go out whole again will depend partly on how well you do your craft. "

Image source:

He shared a touching story about the most important concert of his life, which took place in a nursing home in a small Midwestern town a few years ago. A war veteran came to him after hearing Aaron Copland's Sonata and said, "How does the music do that? How did it find those feelings and those memories in me?" The piece brought back one particular memory regarding a fellow pilot. Only afterwards did the war vet learn that the piece was dedicated to a fallen pilot who fought in WWII.

Click here to go to Karl Paulnak's speech.

Here's the videos of the piece that moved the war veteran:

The second movement especially makes the heart weep.

If you'd like to add Copland's Sonata for Violin and Piano to your music collection, click on the image below:

Now if you'd like to learn this piece, check it out here:

Sonata look inside Sonata (for Violin and Piano). By Aaron Copland (1900-1990). For Piano, Violin (Violin). Boosey & Hawkes Chamber Music. 36 pages. Boosey & Hawkes #M051350834. Published by Boosey & Hawkes (HL.48002997)...more info

(c) 2009 by Musespeak(tm), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.

More quotes on wrong notes and practicing

It's amazing just how many of these quotes you can find:

  • “I often discover that what sounds great at home sounds hideous in public.” Tuck Andress
  • “There are no such things as wrongnotes, there’s only the look on your face.” Anonymous
  • “Stay cool, look professional, and pretend this is very, very easy.” Dusan Bogdanovic
  • "I suppose any note, no matter how sour, sounds like a song if you hold onto it long enough." Dewitt Bodeen
  • “If you hit a wrong note, then make it right by what you play afterwards.” - Joe Pass
  • "Learn by practice." - Martha Graham
  • "Practice as if you are the worst, perform as if you are the best."
  • What a player does best, he should practice least. Practice is for problems.
  • "Always end a practice session playing something that makes you feel good." - Anonymous

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa and best wishes for 2009!

(c) 2008 by Musespeak(tm), Calgary, AB, Canada. all rights reserved.

There's no such thing as a wrong note

This week, I've had some interesting conversations with my students who are so preoccupied by playing "one wrong note". I was trying to communicate that there are no wrong notes in performance - just surprises. Sometimes, they are delightful surprises that lead to an exciting and personalized performance. Others - not so pleasant. Here are a few other quotes from the pros on the subject:

  • There’s no such thing as a wrong note. - Art Tatum
  • There are no wrong notes in jazz: only notes in the wrong places. -Miles Davis
  • It's not the note you play that's the wrong note - it's the note you play afterwards that makes it right or wrong. - Miles Davis
  • To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong. -Joseph Chilton Pearce
  • There are no mistakes in jazz - you are always a semitone from salvation! - church joke
  • There are no wrong notes; some are just more right than others. – Thelonius Monk
  • “Do not fear mistakes. There are none. - Miles Davis
  • "There are no wrong notes, only wrong resolutions" "I think of all harmony as an expansion and a return to the tonic."— Bill Evans
  • There are no wrong notes on the piano, just better choices.—Thelonious Monk
  • I played the wrong, wrong notes.—Thelonious Monk

How appopos. I had a few surprises in one of the pieces I performed last night at the BeatNiq. I made it through some to my delight (others, I was just glad to plow through the line and be done with it). I added a few new elements I wasn't sure I could pull off since they were truly last minute additions. Throwing in the Mission Impossible Theme into a 5/8 version of What Child Is This? was one of those pleasant surprises.

(c) 2008 by Musespeak(tm), Calgary,AB, Canada. All rights reserved.