I often tell my young students “if you make friends with music now, music will be your friend for life”. At least in my own life, I have found this to be true. I have considered music to be my close friend for more than forty years now. Of course like any long friendship, it’s complicated. Music is very demanding! There are times when I think we are working beautifully together, and times when I wish music would just do what I want it to and stop complaining. Music is often elusive, difficult, temperamental. In the end we never truly know music any more than we truly know other people.

When you are first learning music you often feel inadequate. Music can seem tedious, moody, even cruel. You have to work hard to deepen this relationship. Eventually, it helps you to explore the inner structure of music. Then you may become so close that each of you knows what the other is thinking. In this way, you develop empathy with the music, with your fellow musicians, and your audience. In some strange way, music seems to have empathy with you. It has accepted you as a friend.

Like any long friendship, my friendship with music has gone through a number of distinct phases. Sometimes we have only seen each other rarely for long periods. Sometimes I wanted to spend more time with music than I was able to. Other times I felt like it was best for us to spend some time apart for a while. Then we would go through intense periods where we would see each other every day. At these times the relationship grew stronger and deeper. Even at the worst of times, we never lost touch.

Now that music is also my business partner again, after a long time off, the friendship is in yet another phase. The music business is even more difficult than music itself! Still, I’m happy to report that we are getting along better than ever. I feel that when I teach I am paying music back for everything it has given to me, by introducing it to young people, people who may find that they love it too.

We’re hanging out on Saturday night. You should stop by.