June 5, 1998

Music Lessons

What's frustrating about music lessons, what's miraculous about them, and what they actually teach us. This show was recorded in front of a live audience at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, with help from KQED-FM, during the 1998 Public Radio Conference in San Francisco.


Durrell was a professional musician. He toured Asia, Brazil, Canada, gigs in Paris. Now he teaches chorus at a high school on Chicago's south side. Touring was easier. Durrell explains the frustrations of being a music teacher. We hear him try to cancel the last concert of the year...and how his students try to change his mind. (5 minutes)
Act One

Papa Was Not A Rolling Stone

A case study of how children are asked to live the unlived lives of their parents. Author David Sedaris had a father who loved jazz but played no instrument himself. Instead, he dreamt that his children would learn to play and form a little jazz combo. He sent David to take guitar lessons. David, however, had dreams of his own. David's most recent book is Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls. (15 minutes)
Act Two

Toccata and Fugue In Me, a Minor

As a teenager, Sarah Vowell was not casual about music lessons — music became her life. She was in marching band, jazz band, Band One, symphony band, pep band and the Bozeman Recorder Ensemble. Here Sarah recalls all the things she learned in music class that had nothing to with music. Sarah's most recent book is Unfamiliar Fishes. (17 minutes)
Act Three

Knockin' On Heaven's Door

Writer Anne Lamott presents an example of what we can learn from music outside of formal classes. She tells the story of an airplane trip, a song, and a small miracle. Anne's most recent book is Help, Thanks, Wow. (18 minutes)