Preparing for the New Year


In his TED talk from February, 2008 composer Benjamin Zander looks at the opportunity presented by only about 3% of the population here being interested in classical music enough to support it. While others bemoan the closing of institutions and puzzle over how to grow the audience from 3% to 4% he truly believes that everyone can enjoy and value classical music.

He divides people into these categories:

  • A small group of people who are passionate about classical music.
  • A slightly larger group of people who don’t mind classical music. They don’t turn it on but if it’s playing they are happy with it.
  • The largest group of all is comprised of people who never listen to classical music.

He adds a fourth group that claim to be tone deaf and then dismisses the idea that this many people could actually be tone deaf.

He then talks the audience through the "story line" of a Chopin prelude and asks them to picture a specific thing while listening to him play the piece. Everyone gets it. You’ll get it.

But I don’t bring this up to enhance your life through classical music.

As you prepare for the new year, think of something you are passionate about that you wish other people would better understand or just appreciate. How can you tell its story and move them to a point that they get it?

I never much felt the passion for history until I read Sarah Vowell’s Assassination Vacation. Since then I pick up biographies and historical accounts for a fun read while I’m traveling. Vowell’s book convinced me.

Take twenty minutes to enjoy Benjamin Zander on music and passion and make a New Year’s resolution to create that shining look in the people around you when you describe your passion.

This post originally appeared in the Pragmatic Life blog.