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  • Writer's picturerhapsodydmb


I follow a wonderful musical website blog by piano teacher Andrew Eales from Britain. I love his unusually gentle, "holistic" approach to music, evaluation of new compositions and publications, and sage advice to piano students, both young and old, professional and amateur alike.

However, his latest blog gave me pause, and resulted in the below email that I hope he will take in the thoughtful way it was offered.

"Hello Andrew,

"I was fascinated by your recent blog on horses -- and the idea of not running with them.

"However I take exception to this statement: 

"..the only living being worth competing with is actually yourself."

and to this one:

"...let others be their best selves."

"Competition seems a particularly patriarcal, male construct. I short-hand it as 'one up/one down' in a number of my poems written about music as well as about my poetic life's observations at my 'new' age of 80.

"Women tend to rest more in cooperation, inclusion, egaliatianism, community, and caring -- all opposites of what we find in the "modern" world's universal patriarcal history and the present.

"Finally, if we 'let others be their best selves,' then patriarchy will persist. It will persist because men of good will, even pro-feminists who profess their understanding of how women have been unfairly treated and overlooked in the past and present, but men who time and again reinforce patriarcal values by failing to speak up and act against continuing discrimination and inequity when it comes to women -- are in fact, part of the problem.

"Witness how long it has taken for the musical world to begin to set up concerts and search out women composers and give performance opportunities with fair remuneration to women.

"I fear that concentrating on how to become 'the best one that we are' without more (urging all and ourselves to speak and act to amend past injustices, for example), will only perpetuate past inequities and come down to nothing more than egotism in the end.

"In music love,

Ann Grogan  ("



How is it that Beethoven

(At least in Copland’s mind)*

Is “greater” as a creator

Than Ravel, as he does find?

Then says his opinion is

That sound varies with each composer.

Doesn’t that confuse his point

And prove these two just differ?

But for some men, I guess

Life’s seen as a grave contest:

One on top, one below

“Then pray! Forget the rest!”

So consider this, Mr. Aaron,

Swallow down this bitter pill:

It’s not a contest with winner take all,

When to any music we thrill.


*Aaron Copland, How to Listen to Music


To love one song

Does not mean

I love the others less.

Each score is blessed

With blessed intention

By composers, all!

No one will fall

Into disrepute with me.

Not equal though they be,

Each one unique,

A gift the goddess gave

To man or woman,                   

Angels all who heard the call

Took up their pen

Or quill, they said,

Until they were dead

To gift us all

With glories be:

Truth, passion, and despair,

Love, romance–it’s all there

To thrill and chill our bones.

Sense comes from all the tones

Together. Then there’s rhythm,

Contour and tempo,

Resonance and rubato,

Surely more,

Because the pianist who plays the score

Renders it a living thing,

And total pleasure then does bring.

And as Proust said,

“Music is communication

Between souls,”

Thus, to music we are called.


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