That Which Must Never Be SaidWelcome to Italy. Its 23:00 on a Sunday night and Ive just finished my monthly three days at the Fiesole Scuola di Musica, checked out of the hotel and arrived at Santa Maria Novella Station, Florences rail station, to learn that all of Italys trains are on strike. Ok, this is Italy, Ive seen it many times, but my train is a Swiss train headed for Geneva, it always goes when theres a strike Not this time! This strike seems to be thorough and complete and its going to last 24 hours. I must now spend 24 hours waiting for the same train tomorrow night.
So what does one do with 24 free hours in Florence? Since I lived 7 years of my life in this city, being a tourist did not sound like the option I was looking for. The first thing was to find a comfortable hotel and have a good and long sleep; I would decide in the morning how to spend the rest of the day and I would try to not think about that which should never be said.
Monday morning: Well, I slept to 11, the first time in a long time, and it seems like now would be perfect moment to forget my diet and go to my favorite Florentine restaurant; that should take a couple of hours. I know Cienanni is open for lunch and its been a few years since Ive been there. Wild boar salami, taglierini with truffle cream sauce and roast pigeon stuffed with mushrooms and a bottle of Antonaris fine Cervaro, this should take up a little time and help me avoid the tuba teacher taboo that should never be thought or said It worked very well. It was delicious nostalgia.
Now Im back in the hotel room sitting at the computer avoiding the tuba teacher taboo in thought and word by writing an article on another thought of mine; Im calling it: "Embouchure is a Verb". I worked hard on it and while its succeeding in keeping my mind free from that that should be never said, "Embouchure is a Verb" is not coming easily and what Ive written so far reads something like eating shredded wheat without cream or sugar; not a great way to finish one of the best meals Ive had in a long time. I give up on "Embouchure is a Verb" But Im in a writing mood.
An hour later the phone rang again and it was my oldest and best friend in the world.
Later in the evening I got still another call, long distance, from a respected colleague, a member of what I like to call the Midwest Pedagogical Mafia.
"Roger, I just talked to Bob, youve made him very unhappy. I think you should remember that thats something that we never say to our students; its an unwritten law."
From that time on I remembered the unwritten law, "That Which Must Never be Said."
But sometimes it needs to be said and it was clear it would be prudent for me to consider how and when to say it. Its not just a few unpromising players that need to hear that which must never be said anymore, all aspiring tubists need to examine the forbidden words. There are so many of us and so few jobs, that as well as playing great, we need luck to be successful in our profession. But how to communicate that which must not be said but must be said? All players need to be reminded occasionally that we need to have alternative plans in case our first choice doesnt materialize.
Hard work and dedication are absolutely necessary, in fact somewhere in the expanse of dedication, obsession and fanaticism we must find our personal intensity of study and still keep in mind the realities of the profession we seek. Sometimes I like to tell my students that no matter how dedicated I might have been as a young man, no matter how hard I might have worked and no matter how much I might have loved ballet, there would have been absolutely no chance for me to have become a ballet dancer!
Some things we have to face, whether its Italian train strikes or even "That Which Must Never be Said."
Oh, and Bob? Hes a very successful tuba professor in a university in the southeast of the USA. I wonder how he says that which must never be said? I hope he considers me one of his teachers.
Firenze, January 18, 2005