Musicality Book Club, Week 11: Ten Lessons and a Final Word

bookWe have finally arrived at the end of W.A. Mathieu’s book, Bridge of Waves: What Music Is and How Listening to It Changes the World. What a journey! I really enjoyed taking my time to reflect on each chapter and sharing thoughts and experiences with many of you through the comments and by email. Even if you are joining us late, feel free to join in the discussion!

The final chapter, Living the Waves, is pretty short and provides just some final parting thoughts, so I’d like to use this last post in our musicality book club to summarize my “take-aways” from this book before wrapping up with a final quote from Mathieu. These lessons are not necessarily new and not necessarily learned, but they are definitely the ones that most resonate with my own experience with dance and that I will continue to meditate on for quite a while. What truths do you keep returning to?

• The inseparability of body and mind point to the connection between the grounded and the spiritual…Week 1

• As with everything else in life, music is both universal and individual… Week 2

• Pulse is not static, but a living, breathing, dynamic thing… Week 3

• Each day’s energy has a different quality and requires a different approach… Week 4

• A fear of technique reveals not its weakness but its power… Week 5

• The idea is not to gain more knowledge or to mature in our tastes, but to expand our awareness to include more of the universe… Week 6

• Community provides a creative and emotional edge… Week 7

• Music and dance provide both a mirror for the self and a window to the world… Week 8

• Seek emptiness to become full, and activeness to become passive (not the other way around!)… Week 9

• “Where you stumble is where your treasure lies” *… Week 10

* Note: This phrase is borrowed from the title of a post from Susan Cain’s blog, Quiet: The Power of Introverts.

And here are some final words from Mathieu:

If you touch the rim of a ringing bell, it will stop ringing. If you are listening to music so deeply that it is ringing your bell, thinking about it could be one way of touching the bell; judging, or being reactive, might do the same. When composers want a percussionist to allow a cymbal, or a gong, or a chime to continue ringing without being damped, they write laisser vibrer on the score. Aside from the beauty of the sound of the words themselves, the phrase has always been a cautionary mantra for me. When I am listening to music, the mantra reminds me: just let it happen, don’t be too hasty to have some idea about it, or reaction to it. Let it vibrate – laisser vibrer. In this way, listening to music can serve as a splendid rehearsal for entering into the stream of life without needing to change it all the time. Sometimes you have to and sometimes you don’t, but let the scene in front of you play out some, let it unfold. Give life a chance. Don’t touch the bell. [p. 255]

Thank you for joining me for the Bridge of Waves musicality book club!

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