I like spending time at the neighborhood music school where my kids take lessons. I sit in a chair in the hallway, paying no attention to the work I’ve brought, listening instead to the overlapping sounds coming through the closed doors of the different studios: a pianist whose feet dangle far short of the pedals banging through a nursery rhyme, a violinist taking apart and reassembling a Bach minuet, a flutist somewhere upstairs repeating a soaring run over and over, a rhythm section down in the basement churning and stopping and churning again. I enjoy the recitals, too, accepting the scrapingly disastrous meltdowns along with the flashes of virtuosity. It’s all part of how aspiring musicians equip themselves to play not just for themselves but for and with others.
The music school isn’t just a pleasant extra for the community. It’s one of the institutions that help give shape to life by taking an inchoate urge — in this case, to make beautiful noise — and giving it form, inculcating competence and purpose along the way.