Printer-friendly version
Pauline Lerner

Words of Wisdom on Music

December 3, 2007 at 5:28 AM

I recently came across some words of wisdom on music that I would like to share. The writing is by Dan Haerle on his retirement from the University of North Texas, College of Music, Jazz Studies Division in May, 2002. The emphasis in bold is my own.

Parting Thoughts - Some Ideas for Music Students

If you don't have a natural curiosity about the musical world and the sounds you hear every day, a musical profession is probably not for you.

Share the wealth. Pass on what you know to others. Music is an aural tradition that is continually handed down from generation to generation. You must listen to and assimilate the good qualities of great musicians.

Music is composed of notes and rests. Space is as important as sound.

Every instrument is hard and every instrument is easy; it all depends on your attitude.

Playing music is the ultimate high, with no retribution!


Don't play music to glorify yourself, give of yourself to glorify the music. Give up your ego and make the music more important than you.

Adopt the Hallmark philosophy of music. Care enough to send your very best!

Performing in a group is as much social interaction as it is a musical experience. A good performance by a musical group is an excellent example of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts.

At any time, you are perfectly alright and simply in some stage of your growth. There will always be musicians who are more or less experienced than you. Be inspired by all of them.

In addition to the usual, practice away from the instrument, study with the instrument in hand.

Learning the melodies to songs correctly is a simple matter of respect for the composers.

It is the performer's responsibility to make a piece sound as the composer intended or else to write his or her own composition. An artist learns how to recognize the ways in which the composer indicates what the sound of a composition is.

There is only one tempo for a tune, the one that was counted off. Subtle differences in tempo can create entirely new experiences with the same music.

Music is sound, not notation on a page. Learn pieces by ear and be able to sing them.

Bring something strong to any performance; don¹t be the weak link in the chain.

The standard of excellence in music is well documented on recordings. Wherever you may be, you must aspire to that standard.

Music is not the Olympics. There are no medals awarded for the highest notes, greatest number of notes in a solo, or the fastest notes.


All music speaks to someone and therefore has value even if you are not prepared to receive what it has to say.


Musical performance at a high level demands everything in terms of commitment and guarantees nothing in terms of employment.

There will always be someone who likes your music and someone who dislikes your music. Get over it and focus on the music as being the most important thing.

Now and then, make a point of going to hear some music that you are pretty sure you don¹t like. You may confirm your suspicions or you may come away from the performance changed in some slight way.


Daydream about music, hearing yourself singing or playing and sounding great. This will strengthen your conviction of what you want to sound like.

Always get a good sound; it is the representation of your musical soul.

No one can teach you anything, only guide your learning. You learn by an investment of effort (practice or study). The best way to learn is by discovery through searching for the answers.


There are only two kinds of music in the world, good and bad. Always try to involve yourself in music of any style that is well done with conviction.


When you improvise in a jazz setting, you are baring your soul musically and there is a chance that someone will ridicule you. Believe that you have something that deserves hearing as much as anyone.

Music of integrity can have wide appeal. Commercially successful music may still be artistic.

There is never enough time in life. Learn how to use your time efficiently and try to accept the tasks that have to be done even though they interfere with the things that are important to you.

Some people may try to demean you or make you feel inferior. You don't deserve to be treated this way and should not acknowledge this kind of behavior.


All human beings deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. Plus, what goes around comes around.

Try to see problems in music or life as opportunities for growth.

You are often expected to perform at a high level when tired, wearing uncomfortable clothes or in a bad environment. Deal with it; you can rest, change clothes and take a shower later.

He who has imagination without learning has wings but no feet.

Guilt is a useless emotion. Rather than feeling guilty, take action to correct or improve the situation.

Never give up. There are always other choices if something doesn¹t work out.

We must all be both teachers and students of music and life. There is always more to learn and there are those who can benefit from our knowledge and experience.

Don't worry about things that are out of your control and that may not really matter anyway. Continue to try to determine what does matter to you.

Be a positive force in the universe and always try to see the good in life.

Don't be afraid to take risks. It is by taking risks that we learn to be brave.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

JR Judd Violins
JR Judd Violins

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases Shopping Guide Shopping Guide


Metzler Violin Shop

Southwest Strings

Bobelock Cases

Johnson String Instrument/Carriage House Violins

Jargar Strings

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop


Los Angeles Violin Shop


String Masters

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine