I like to be comfortable. I like the comfortable temperatures of fall after the oppressive heat of summer. I will choose a place I know serves good meals over one about which I know nothing. I prefer comfortable clothes over stylish ones and would rather drive an old pickup truck than a new sports car.
This still leaves room for adventure in life. I enjoy driving to unfamiliar territory and exploring what it has to offer. I’m always up for a new movie or book. Last month I tried whirlyball (something akin to playing lacrosse in bumper cars) for the first time. Each fall I visit a corn maze in Spring Grove, Illinois, combining the comfort of an annual fall trip with the adventure of getting lost in a new maze each year. Overall, however, nothing quite matches the comfort of an old favorite.
I especially feel this way about music. I enjoy many new works, but there’s nothing quite like coming back to Pines of Rome or Crown Imperial. A number of friends have every song on every album they own on their computers or iPods, but I just can’t bring myself to do that. My iPod is my musical castle, and only my closest musical friends are welcome.
At one point in a conversation with Amanda Drinkwater this month, she mentioned her endless quest for new works her students might play, and I agree completely on the importance of keeping open ears. After hearing a catchy tune as background music to a television commercial I spent a fair amount of time trying to find the original artist, to the extent of browsing French message boards for names – even though I don’t speak a word of the language. To be completely closed off to the new and different is a terrible thing, but old favorites should never be ignored or discarded. If you have a piece you have enjoyed for years, perhaps you should introduce it to your students so they too may savor its wonders. There is an endless flow of new music, and some few of these will endure. There are many chestnuts from past decades that it would be a tragedy for students to never hear or play.