I listen to a lot of podcasts, a few dozen per week. Usually one stands out as the best, though I rarely go to the trouble of highlighting it on this blog. This week I enjoyed most Terry Gross’s interview of James Levine. It was really the first 15 minutes or so that got me. In fact, even the first few minutes are worth hearing, if you’ve only got that much time. If you’ve ever played ensemble music, you’ll understand. If not, you may still get it. Try!
Listen to how Levine rehearses and how he describes the process and product. There’s an attention to detail, to nuance, that exemplifies professionalism, not in the sense of remunerative work, but in the sense of deep respect for the fundamentals. A true professional goes this deep into his or her work. It’s rare because it is hard and not everyone cares to. That’s not a value judgement. To each his own. It is only to say that there is a big difference between what those at the top of a field do and what the rest in that field do. It’s something to notice and to be inspired by, even if not emulated. (I’ll never be a true, professional musician or physicist, but I sure can enjoy what those that are can do.)
This is something I’ll come back to in a future post.