Friday, November 10, 2006

Nov. 21 is No Music Day

I must admit that I was somewhat dismayed when I came across No Music Day, a site proposing Nov. 21 as a day on which:

Conductors will not take the podium.
Decks will not spin.
The needle will not drop.
The piano lid will not be lifted.
Films will have no soundtrack.
Jingles will not jangle.

Looking a bit further into the site, I came across an explanation of the site's reason for being:

No Music Day is an aspiration, an idea, an impossible dream, a nightmare.

There are as many reasons for marking No Music Day as there are people willing to observe it - or reject it.

No Music Day is on the 21st of November this and every year.
No Music Day is on the 21st of November because the 22nd of November is Saint Cecilia's day. Saint Cecilia is the patron saint of music. In many countries the 22nd of November was the day chosen to give thanks for and to celebrate the existence of music.

No Music Day has nothing to sell.
There is no mission statement.

Looking across the rather negative comments about the enterprise, I get the feeling that many readers aren't willing to give up their musical endeavors for the day.

At the risk of alienating my dear colleagues and readers, I think that No Music Day is a fantastic idea, if only in spirit rather than practice. Music has become commercialized, monetized, and ubiquitous and many of us have lost the sense of wonder that came with the musical impulse that must have mesmerized our prehistoric ancestors.

As a professional pianist and music educator, I won't be boycotting music on Nov. 21. Rather, No Music Day for me is a way of honoring the silence as I go about my musical activities for the day and realizing that music is not a mere commodity, but an art form that takes a lot of dedication and brings enjoyment to so many that listen and participate in it, is not a continuous soundtrack, but comes from a place of stillness so that we can genuinely learn to listen through our art.

There is no music without silence.

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