Over at NaBloPoMo the theme for April is letters, but over at Adaptistration, where Drew McManus blogs about orchestra management, governance and change, it's TAFTO or "Take A Friend To Orchestra" month. Here's how it works, with a roster of bloggers, administrators, musicians and enthusiasts writing about the simplest thing in the world: inviting a friend to come to an orchestral concert with you.
It's important because, as with anything else that might be unfamiliar, laden with traditions, and ever-so-slightly arcane (the racetrack, the stock exchange, the vineyard, the high Anglican church…) it can sometimes take the company of a friend to ease you through those first tentative steps.
Today's contribution comes from Matt Heller, an orchestral double bassist – the kind of person who finds it difficult to "take" friends to concerts because he's usually playing in them. He expresses the (I suspect not uncommon) fear that taking a friend to hear an orchestra just might leave you with an enemy!
His story ends well, though. It also suggests that we can get in the way by overemphasising preparation and concrete knowledge as a key or a way in to music:
"Maybe it was a good thing that I didn't accompany them to the concert. I would have just babbled about music history and stylistic periods; whereas the experience of seeing and hearing an orchestra for the first time, all the distinct sounds and gestures of the musicians and instruments, might only be diminished by too much explanation – like a magician explaining how a trick was done."
I think it's true that for most people who become interested in classical music a thirst for knowledge and deepened understanding is awakened, often in a big way. But perhaps at first we should trust in the capacity of a musical performance to speak to people on its own ineffable terms.