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Friday, November 08, 2019

Nicola Benedetti: 'Music is the art of all the things we can't see or touch. We need it in our lives | Classical music - The Guardian

This is an edited extract from a speech Nicola Benedetti gave to the Royal Philharmonic Society on 5 November
Watch her full speech here.

The violinist and passionate campaigner for music education spoke about the enriching power of classical music in a speech for the Royal Philharmonic Society. We publish an edited extract.

The making of music is healing, invigorating, exhausting, all-consuming ... Nicola Benedetti.
Photo: Andy Gotts
Our sense of the world and our place in it expands by the hour. This 21st-century jungle is incomprehensible in its complexity and fullness; the Earth is saturated with people and information. Just think about how much stuff is out there, from scientific and medical discoveries, books written, works of art created, the 500 recordings of Elgar’s Cello Concerto – the inordinate documentations of our collective pasts, and the continuous stream of current inventions is overwhelming.

We also have so many things in every shape, size, colour and form conceivable, and for every purpose imaginable. And many of these things are designed not to last. Mobile phones are downgraded through a process called “upgrading” – the companies that do it have admitted it!

But what about a thing that does last and is intended to? Do we understand the weight or value of a timeless thing? “Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge, where is the knowledge we have lost in information?” wrote TS Eliot in 1934. If he felt that then, I wonder what he would be saying about us now.

I believe that people still want to feel, and to be moved. They want to communicate with loved ones better and we all want to feel we are not alone in the world... 

For Socrates, the role of a teacher was akin to that of a midwife, implying that you have something within you that only requires bringing forth. French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas said that teaching is the presence of infinity breaking the closed circle of totality. In other words, through education, are we trying to open windows into worlds you would never dream of yourself? Interacting with, and ultimately embracing, the “other” or that which is radically different to you...

Learning an instrument demands learning how to practise. Practice itself can teach us uncommon discipline, persistence and patience. We know that caring for our instrument teaches us responsibility. That technical work and accuracy, playing in tune, coming in on time, paying attention to accents, dots, crescendos and sound production – all while trying to express something collectively – teaches us loud and clear about balancing opposites and staying afloat. 
Read more... 

Source: The Guardian