Blogging 301 – Making Connections and The Metaphor

I’m happy to announce that I have exceeded three hundred posts!  You’re reading post #301!

Writing has had a major impact on my growth over the last two years; I would encourage everyone to write down his or her thoughts!

Not necessarily to publish (in a book, blog or otherwise), but because the act of writing down words represents a profound commitment.  Your words symbolize the inner workings of your mind.  Once you write them, you’ve made an important connection.  These kinds of connections are the fundamental building blocks for learning and development.

Two years ago, when I first starting writing seriously, I was making fresh connections.  My lack of experience in writing made these connections more observable.  Two years later, I’ve noticed that there’s more clarity in my thinking and my teaching.  I liken this process to logical reasoning, where my earlier writings make up my axioms from which I derive more and more theorems.

The Usual Connectors

Of course, I’ve been writing words for most of my life.  But now I connect with them.  I have a strong desire to establish connections and parallels between words, music, teaching and life.

We should keep in mind that not everyone connects with writing, reading, speaking, or words in general.  We all process these things differently; people with dyslexia come to mind.  Furthermore, It can be difficult to appreciate words and their connecting potential if they’re too familiar and mundane.

But everyone should strive to make connections, in whatever form (I’ll spare you the beautiful Ken Robinson quote on intelligence and creativity this time!).  We should also be mindful of our tendency to favour certain connectors over others.

You may be familiar with this adage: “Talking about music is like dancing about architecture.”

I’ve written previously that I have mixed feelings about this phrase; I’ve heard people use it as a reason not to talk about music.  They feel that connections between words and music are utterly obtuse; it’s like trying to square a circle and it can’t be done admirably, so why bother?

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with dancing about architecture; I would encourage people to try it!  Just as I would encourage people to compose theme songs, or write down thoughts, or explore parallels between art and life.  Dancing about architecture may seem awkward to most of us, but that’s because we favour certain connectors over others.  Actually, using the above phrase also implies you take connectors for granted.

I prefer the phrase: “Talking about music is like writing about feelings.” They don’t always translate perfectly, but they’re still connected.


The Metaphor

Here’s the video that inspired this post. Thanks to Cathy for introducing it to me through her blog.

In any sense in which music can be considered a language…it is totally a metaphorical language.”

It seems to me, with Bernstein’s example, all of these variables – the music, the score and the descriptive words – can connect intimately, and further deepen and enrich the metaphor.  They’re all independently valuable, but one isn’t more valuable than another.  They all carry the metaphor differently, with different strengths and weaknesses.

Yes, as Bernstein says, music communicates the unnamable and the unknowable, but words can communicate the non-musical and fill “expressive gaps” so to speak.  It’s brilliant how Bernstein likened the Beethoven to a drama!

Lastly, here are a few things, off the top of my head that may spark some fresh connections:

  • What would your theme song sound like?
  • What would your portrait look like?
  • Read out loud, dramatically.
  • Which wine best complements asparagus?
  • Bounce an imaginary ball.
  • What word would you use to describe Bernstein’s ears?
  • Is Cinderella (from Brothers Grimm) blond or brunette?
  • Dance to Bartok.

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