The Art of Positive Thinking

Double Talk in Music

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Location: Taipei, Taiwan

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Double Talk in Music

by Rolf-Peter Wille

"Nan myoho renge kyo…" – America is becoming Buddhist these days. In an American way though, of course. Think of something you need – money, a new date, or a concert-agent - and by chanting this phrase you will get it for sure. If you wish to become a famous musician - just announce that you are one already. Jobless? Nonsense You are a "freelancing artist." Eliminated in the first round? So you were a "quarter finalist," you want to say.

Image consultance (sorry – professional development) is offered widely these days and everybody (the author always included) seems to be yearning for a psychological facelift. Ever got a bad review? Very good! Review is review. Just cut out those naughty words, Xerox - ready. "…played for small audience…" - cut out the word "small," find "large" in the same paper and same type and replace it (both words have 5 letters); Xerox - ready. You can still see some lines? Never mind…liquid paper will do the work. Xerox again - perfect!

If this is too troublesome you may always quote:

"…it was everything but a great performance!"

You quote: "…a great performance! "

"…far from perfect!"

This means "…perfect!" of course.

"He should have listened to some of the great performers like Backhaus or Gieseking!"

Fantastic: you are just playing "…like Backhaus or Gieseking! "

"Her Chopin reminded us of Helena Rubinstein."

Congratulations! Your play "…reminds us of…Rubinstein. "

"…could have been more powerful. Liszt was generally weak…"

Marvelous! "…powerful Liszt… " Do you fell a little guilty reading this? Never mind! Don’t forget to chant it over and over again and eventually it will all become true!

It is much easier to deal with recommendations, because here your teacher (or whomever you bribed) will do the job. Let us say you are immature, superficial, quite lazy, and a bit neurotic. This will read: "…very talented, a fast learner, has a lot of fantasy and a creative mind…"

You have no potential to develop any further, are dull, and lack personality: "…a mature artist…diligent worker and conscientious musician.."

You are stubborn and pushy: "…independent…dynamic and energetic…"

No technique? - So you must be "very musical!"

Not musical? - You probably have a "solid technique!"

A total amateur? - Bravo, "…great potential!"

The same is true for the teaching situation. American teachers are generally quite polite (who would not like to keep his job!). "Excellent" usually means average. "Best in the world, terrific" – probably you were not so bad. "Good" means bad. If you "have some material for work" you must have been horribly messy. If you "have the right ideas" or are "on the right track" you were probably sight-reading.

It is much harder to compose a professional bio because here you need to know somebody with imagination (not a musician!) who can help you to translate: One concert is "concertized" or "frequent appearances," 2 concerts "extensive touring" already. 12th prize in a local youth competition: "winner of major contests." You met Horowitz (or anybody with a similar name) in the bathroom of a nightclub? So, you "appeared in conjunction with Horowitz," You listened 5 seconds to a masterclass of Arrau, standing behind the door? You must be "Arrau’s favorite student."

Also consider your talk to other musicians, "I am gaining a lot of experience." ( lost competitions, failed exams, no luck in auditions). "I am reconsidering my goals." (haven’t touched a piano in months, hate music). "I am interested in studio teaching " (can’t find a school job).

And don’t forget – better start today, and chant it over and over again!

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