On the Art of Possibility
© 2003 by Michael Finley
I heard this joke at a meeting of senior consultants at
An associate conductor for a regional orchestra was asked to
guest conduct for an orchestra 1000 miles away. He arrives at the concert
hall eager to meet orchestra members and establish good chemistry with
All seems well except for the concertmaster violinist, who
regards him throughout the performance with a baleful frown. The conductor
tries everything to get on the violinist's good side -- he tries being
athletic, modest, emphatic, solicitous -- but nothing changes the
expression on the violinist's face.
So preoccupied is he with the concertmaster's frown that the
entire concert falls flat. He knows he will never be invited back. But
before he returns, he decides to have it out with his nemesis. "All
through the concert you frowned at me. Nothing I did was good enough for
you. What did I ever do to you?"
To which the concertmaster blinks languidly and replies, in
a thick Czech accent, "I hate music."
So what is this "one buttock" stuff? Zander explained
it immediately, illustrating the difference in piano-playing at ages 7, 8,
9, 10 and 11. Each year, the awareness of the music deepens, until the
young pianist finds him or herself sitting on the edge of the piano bench
-- on one buttock. The posture bespeaks a level of involvement, of
soulfulness, of suspense even, that a beginner or disinterested party is
You cannot sit on the edge of the bench, on one buttock, and
One thing obvious about Benjamin Zander -- he does not hate
music. And yet music per se is not his message. Music is a means to a
deeper message for him -- that we live together, sharing the same hopes
and heartaches, in a realm of remarkable possibilities. But to achieve
this state of mind -- generous, joyful, and young at heart -- one has to
be a little at war with the world.
KFor the complete report, click on CLICK TO PAY ...
Just as Jim Loehr talked about "expedient adaptation," the com
Maestro Ben Zander