Whole Notes

Whole Surroundings

Where to do you read your books?

Does a particular type of book require a particular type of place?

I wondered this on a cold blustery Sunday afternoon when I decided to pick up Whole Notes after it sat abandoned for too long at my bedside.

Where Shall I Sit?

Daytime book reading is such a novelty.

The loungeroom is too cold in winter. I’m not going to heat the room for a few random moments.

The bedroom has a chair (actually its a piece of outdoor cane furniture). The afternoon will soon be evening, which means the bedroom heater will soon be on anyway.

I settle in and find my place within the pages. The chair is comfortable, but the surroundings are not. The bed is not made, and there are clothes slung over the ironing board. I read anyway, but feel the experience is less than what it could be.

Usually, I’m curled up in bed, limited periphery, reading before slumber.


Was it Bravery or Resilience to blame for a spontaneous trip to the music store in my 50’s to buy an electronic keyboard? Bravery and Resilience are titles of chapters in Ed Ayres’ book, Whole Notes: Life Lessons Though Music.

According to Ed, my musical education stalled because I had no curiosity about music.


I am curious about this new word – koan – ?

Online definition: A paradoxical anecdote or riddle without a solution, used in Zen Buddhism to demonstrate the inadequacy of logical reasoning and provoke enlightenment.


Music as scaffolding to life’s moments

Ed is writing about anniversary songs. I don’t have an anniversary song, aside from Happy Birthday. Perhaps because I don’t have anniversaries.

For life’s moments in the public domain, there is the Last Post which I can track back through the years – at the March, in the supermarket, at work, 5pm each afternoon at the memorial. And Christmas carols, usually too hard to sing.

Privately, there’s Tour of Duty for the housework, Gregorian Chants for studying, Gypsy Kings if I need to type particularly fast (alas, that cassette tape is long gone) and the Vikings Soundtrack if I want to drown out everything and focus on the screen in front of me.

And ABC’s Cardio Classics for walking. Let’s Build That Barn.


Page 68

On Page 68 I discover the reason why I didn’t develop the type of curiosity for music that would help me master that keyboard. Apparently, learning music by starting with the black dots on the page is the WRONG way to learn music.

There was a piano at my Gran’s house where I started my very limited journey into playing music. I must have been old enough to count because Gran wrote numbers on the sheet music which I used to orientate my fingers on the keys.

I can read music now, without the numbers, slowly, but perhaps that is why I don’t see music when I look at those five parallel lines. I just see process.


Page 151

This has been a revelatory book. Now I also have an explanation for why I’ve never been a professional at anything except typing.

I type for a living. The steps are the same. Twenty-six letters in the alphabet always in the same spot. I don’t need to do scales or warm ups or spend hours and hours repeating the same piece.

The topics I type are wide ranging, and that’s significant.

In contrast, repetition is required master an instrument, a dance, or anything that requires memorisation. This lack of novelty sees my interest wane.

It is a comfort to finally understand.


A book is also a comfort, particularly one that is the right size for the moment.

After flitting and scrolling through my phone’s tiny screen, my eyes are now resting upon a full page of text, resting gently, wandering past each word, drawing each word in to sit a while and ponder.


Reference: Whole Notes: Life Lessons Through Music by Ed Ayres, published by HarperCollinsPublishers in 2021.

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