by Bob Wiseman
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Pub Date 02 Jun 2020 | Archive Date 03 Feb 2020
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 3 members
Music Lessons is a festival of free-association with the daily life experiences of a musician who uses music as his life’s filter. Through music runs the translations, ideas, perspectives and theories that pop up in his brain and out onto the page. These are subjects in his book, written in a no-holds-barred style - a charming, genuine, face-it-frankly, jaded-occasionally, kid-friendly, entrepreneurial, artist-wise presentation of life snapshots. Specifically, written snapshots of whatever bubbles up in his day, or observations that trigger past experience, or forward-facing wonders about the future.
The lessons include everything from incredible descriptions of how to practice circular breathing, to asides about what Sherlock Holmes’s observations would be on Bob’s writing. There is food commentary, opining on technique, name dropping, bits of travelogue, at home memories, and there truly are music lesson dialog with sassy, funny, sad, cute students, tons of instruments, recording sessions, shade on others, admiration of others, what it is like to work hard and not be appreciated, and what it is like to work hard and be appreciated. He’s clever and changes it up, the titles of some snippets are the cleverest part of the snippet, and some of these snippets I want to embroider on pillows they are that profound.
As an old hippie with 5 guitars, and having written songs myself, I loved best the time the author spent discussing the writing process, composing, nuancing, performing, changing, riffing, ad libbing, and making stuff up on the fly. It is his superpower, I think. That and encouraging his students to keep on keeping on. . . keep practicing, keep writing, keep trying, keep fighting against the big Quit. He’s unruly at times, appreciates performance from wherever it comes (See Cat Power), and he shares a plethora of jokes. There are computer issues, interviews, fights and fruits (watermelon, oranges, etc.) All worthy topics. I enjoyed the back-and-forthing dialogues, some with happy endings, some not.
Absolutely relentless its format, the book spills one “lesson” after another, after another, after another, until a reader can begin to hear the different keys, rhythms and beats that hold them all together. Because of the title I thought this was a book about teaching music, but there is a bigger arc than that, I think. That bigger arc has to do with Bob, himself, and being musically interactive, practicing his craft in his eras of time, and spreading his music-prints throughout regions of the world, all while being human. (That’s a bigger arc, right?) It’s not really a book about teaching music. It’s really about music teaching Bob.
I enjoyed this book . . . .one you could read, put down awhile, and pick up reading wherever you wanted without missing a beat – never needing to go back and catch yourself up. . . .because upon opening the page, wherever you are, that's right where you'll find Bob.
4 stars, all breathing circularly, while I hum the grace notes in harmony.
A sincere thanks to Bob Wiseman, ECW Press and NetGalley for providing me an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.