Music Lessons by Bob Wiseman is a series of short, unrelated vignettes that is a page-turner on par with the most suspenseful cliffhangers. When I first picked it up I opened to the middle and started reading. A half-hour later I realized I hadn’t moved. I was still standing, leaning against the wall in my dining room turning page after page, utterly transfixed. Akin to a a literary variety show, the lack of any consistent narrative in Music Lessons is easily overshadowed by the simple, direct brilliance in every sketch.
Individually each story offers a unique insight into some esoteric element of living life and yes, even teaching music that gets turned on its head and becomes allegory. The subject matter is all over the map – the only real thread that runs throughout the book is style, and what a style! Wiseman’s random conversations become parables, his musical observations turn into sage-like analogies, a walk through the park reads like a Zen koan. Taken together Music Lessons is a look over the shoulder of one of Canada’s most notorious artistic minds and it’s fascinating through and through.
I don’t know if it’s the way he thinks or if it’s the way he writes about what he thinks, but in my opinion both “philosopher” and “sage” can now be added to the long list that invariably accompanies the name of musician/songwriter/filmmaker/composer/producer/author Bob Wiseman.
Music Lessons is a must-read for any music student, music teacher, or pocket philosopher. You can order a copy on Amazon, or anywhere else that sells cool books.