Those of us who were lucky enough to be brought up in creative environments were always told “it doesn’t matter what other people think of you, it’s what you think of yourself.”

Beautiful message to give a child, especially as the child enters adolescence and is faced with all of the stresses an adolescent lives through on a daily basis.

Once we reach adulthood, though, it’s worth reassessing that maxim. As Kundera has pointed out, we can think anything we want about ourselves, good or bad. The moment a thought of ours sparks a connection in someone else’s mind, though, is a magical one, an occurrence that is nearly impossible to explain.

I once heard a great woodwind pedagogue say, “Music should be exciting, not excited.” What does this mean? Simply this: it’s easy for a musician – composer or performer – to get excited about what s/he is doing. It’s far more difficult — and far more profound, and far more necessary — to capture someone else’s imagination, to be exciting.

Hitting both targets — yourself, and the engaged listener – that’s the biggest challenge of them all.

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