how to listen to music if you don’t know your
Beethoven from your Bach
the first thing to do, I would suggest, is to stop
and listen, spend the time with the work you’re
listening to, it’s no different than spending half
an hour with a friend
but you have to be there, listen, as you would
with a friend, no cell phones
the next thing I suggest is to compare, put your
work up against a different composer, a
different interpretation, a different version of
the piece you have on hand
I learned this as I learned to tell one artwork
from another, while I turned European art
museums into personal art history classes,
spending hours comparing one painting
with another, doing so chronologically,
century after century, imbibing thereby the
history of Western art
it’s not necessary to know who you might
even be listening to, just listen, hear,
later the names will come
for instance, you’ll tell the difference
instinctively, forget about the composers,
just surrender to the magic
here’s a poem which says more or less
the same thing
How to Read a Poem: Beginner’s Manual
First, forget everything you have learned,
that poetry is difficult,
that it cannot be appreciated by the likes of you,
with your high school equivalency diploma,
your steel-tipped boots,
or your white-collar misunderstandings.
Do not assume meanings hidden from you:
the best poems mean what they say and say it.
To read poetry requires only courage
enough to leap from the edge
Treat a poem like dirt,
humus rich and heavy from the garden.
Later it will become the fat tomatoes
and golden squash piled high upon your kitchen table.
Poetry demands surrender,
language saying what is true,
doing holy things to the ordinary.
Read just one poem a day.
Someday a book of poems may open in your hands
like a daffodil offering its cup
to the sun.
When you can name five poets
without including Bob Dylan,
when you exceed your quota
and don’t even notice,
close this manual.
You can now read poetry.
music is also like that
R ! chard