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This report is taken from PN Review 248, Volume 45 Number 6, July - August 2019.

Music and Meaning
A Short Meditation on Music and Meaning
Judith Bishop
1

Towheaded is the word that comes to mind to describe him. He had tufty pale hair, as if he had come out of the surf or a shower, mussed his hair with a towel, and it had stayed like that. All the children were assembled in three rows. Their item for the end of year concert was Katy Perry’s ‘Roar’. They readied their claws. This boy and a girl were each given a microphone: the two selected talents of the class. But when the boy began to sing, you could see immediately how much his heart was in it. A studied nonchalance was there, but the pleasure and effort were evident too. He was embodying the music. Anyone could see that – he was not just performing it; he was singing himself into being.

Schools and choirs choose these songs for our kids: anthems to self-realisation, paeans to success through struggle and dream. They are meant to take root in the marrow of our children, and they do. They are meant to be a wind blowing hearts into the future, and they are.

Halfway through the song, something started to unravel. He was singing too well. He had made himself visible. More than that: in his passion he was naked. No doubt that’s why it happened. A boy behind the singer held two fingers over his head. The boy sensed the gesture even before he looked around. Perhaps he knew it had to come. Words were exchanged; he glowered at the other ...


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