Turning the Page

No, This is Not About Politics or Philosophy; It’s About Music (Mostly…)

What May Seem Small Can Count a Great Deal

I have attended two classical music concerts in recent days and watched one on Youtube. All three reminded me that seemingly small contributions can have great value and are worthy of our attention.

In this case, I speak of the humble Page-Turner (that is the actual title of such an individual), the individual who stands next to a performer playing an instrument, turning the page on the sheet music at the right moment. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Not so fast, observer.

In all three cases I noted how small techniques can make quite a difference.

Pay Attention to the Details

The first example was the video of a concert. This was on You Tube because of the page turner. Unfortunately, it was not a good news reason to post. The pianist was playing hot and heavy, a fast moving piece. She was moving along crisply. The fellow turning the page accidently bumped the sheet music, causing it to fly off the piano. I don’t recall now if it fell inside the open piano or fell on the floor.

In any case, the pianist played on while this poor fellow scrambled to recover the sheet music, found the right page, and put it back in place. A seemingly insignificant act became the focus for all for a bit. Both of them on stage adjusted well and the concert continued. I bet they had an interesting conversation after the concert. Even the small stuff needs to be done right.

Two Happier Examples

The second concert was a live one, featuring three organists. For one of them, his page turner was, for me at least, the star of the show. He had a remarkably precise and crisp way of preparing to turn the page, then turn it and stand clear. He was perfectly timed with the performer and moved with the speed and precision of a machine. We were so impressed that following the concert, while others talked with the musicians, we talked with this fellow. We talked for quite a bit; not sure anyone had done that with him before, but he was a joy of focus and technique to watch.

The third concert was also live, again with an organist as the musician. His page turner, a young lady, had a neat little technique of, when turning the page, as she moved to step back, she ever so slightly touched the next page to be turned and bent it ever so slightly. You had to be really watching her to even notice, so quick and subtle was the move. Worked perfectly – every succeeding page turn was crisp and smooth.

Really? That is What Caught My Attention?

Yep. It is, I think, a useful metaphor for life. The small stuff counts. It may not be small if not done well. Remember that old proverb:

“For want of a nail, a shoe was lost. For want of a shoe, a horse was lost. For want of a horse, a rider was lost. For want of a horse, a battle was lost. All for the want of a horseshoe nail.”

Same here. Same in life generally. More things are connected and interdependent than most of us recognize. Ignoring those relationships have consequences. These concerts were a pleasant setting for such a reminder. Darn good music, too.

By the way, I found that others do understand the importance of the page-turner, at least within the music world. Put something like the following sentence into your browser: “What do you call the person who turns pages for musicians?” You will be amazed/amused what follows. Who knew?!

OK, Just a Little on Politics

Kevin McCarthy and the House of Representatives: I watched it all, up until about 2 AM on that last round. What is done is done, now for the future. A few lessons are obvious, me things. One, this is a sad, pathic little man now occupying the Speakership. He traded his soul to get what is now a near worthless prize, and we will all pay a price.

I predict a short, rowdy, destruictive Speakership. This is a man few people like, no one respects, and no one fears. Not a good combination for this job. The truly sad part is that moderate Republicans and Democrats could have reached out, made a deal, and cut the Nut Wing out once and for all. Neither rose to the occasion. Now the tail wags the dog, and the new Speaker gave Trump a boost in the process. Senseless.

Russia and Taiwan: The Economist had two sobering conclusions from a survey of many foreign policy and defense experts around the world.

About half of them think Russia will be a failed state, and may even break up, before 2030. On the one hand, eliminating the threat of a powerful Russia has appeal. On the other hand, having an angry, failed state(s) with seemingly nothing to lose and over a thousand nuclear war heads laying around will not yield a good night’s sleep for anyone thinking about the possibilities.

Putin has been a lesson in arrogance, self-isolation, and corruption. His country will take decades to recover, no matter what happens now in Ukraine.

On the matter of Taiwan, an overwhelming majority of those same experts think it almost a sure thing that China will invade Taiwan in the not too distant future. That does seem highly probable, not the least of which owing to Xi’s militant statements and preparations under way by the Chinese armed forces.

Xi is being weakened by the Corona virus mismanagement, and the Russian problems in Ukraine must surely give the Chinese at least some pause. Still, the risk is high, the likely cost to the world significant, and the prospect of a shooting engagement, if not a war, involving US and Chinese forces is not unlikely. Sobering stuff, this one.

See you next week. Wonder who will be Speaker of the House by that time?

       Bill Clontz

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5 replies to Turning the Page

  1. This is a rather sobering blog!

  2. I continue to find misspellings here. I find misspellings in the Washington Post and the New York Times and The Atlantic. Not in the New Yorker. But I didn’t come here to nag. I came here to applaud. You have managed to blog week-in and week-out with lucid, thoughtful, interesting commentary and NEVER MISS A WEEK. My goal for the New Year (once we get unpacked, oh the horror) is to get back to my blog. Not as lucid and interesting as yours but my own eccentric view. You are such an inspiration. You set the standard I hope to meet in 2023. Thanks again!!

    • Cannot believe you two moved! Have a great new adventure and we all look forward to seeing your blog return. You write very well. And spell pretty well.

  3. If I may add? A really good page turner is a good musician and reads the music as it is played thereby knowing when to turn the page and keep the performer on the correct page.

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