Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Belated Christmas Gift


The title is not about this recent Christmas, but one two years ago, when I put out a request to friends and acquaintances to nominate me to give a TED Talk. Following Robert Frost’s famous quote (“I’ve had a lover’s quarrel with the world”), my six-word bio reads: “Called World to quarrel. No answer.” I thought—and think— I had a worthy complaint that World should hear: “Why don’t all children have an effective, happy and loving music education?” But as I said, all my preaching was to choirs and small ones at that. I wanted to up the ante and TED seemed the perfect vehicle.

It turns out that many people did indeed send a message to TED, but he didn’t pick up. No surprise— the story of my life, always one brick short of a media-exposure barbecue. But in some “be careful what you wish for” kind of drama, it turns out I’m giving a mini-TED talk this Saturday in L.A. It’s called TEDx, which doesn’t mean the same as the movie rating, but rather a shorter time (9 minutes instead of 20) and not up there with the big guns on the TED Channel (though perhaps available in some Youtube format— I’ll keep you posted).

When I first told a friend I wanted to speak on TED, he laughed ruefully and said, “Do you realize you would only have twenty minutes to speak? !!” He knew me well. But now with nine minutes, twenty seems like a luxury. These blogs have helped me get to the point faster and with fewer turns down the side roads, but still— nine minutes to condense a life’s work of thinking about the thousand reasons why music should be in the schools? That’s just cruel.

The composer Schoenberg once said “the most important tool for the composer is the eraser” and I think that’s true for every artist. So I’ve whittled my talk down to four pages and five points, but suspect it’s still four minutes too long. Aargh!

Tomorrow I will post it for any reader who has good advice for me, but hurry— the talk is on Saturday morning. Meanwhile, I’m going to write a thank you note to Santa. A short one.

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