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The Necessity For Business Adaptability.

BY J. FRANCIS COOKE, M.B.

At the completion of a course of preparation cov­ering several years, during which time the student is so isolated that business of any kind is looked upon as a foreign matter, it is not surprising that some musicians are brought to the ridicule of many people by their ignorance of the very cog-wheels of commercial machinery that the majority of the world’s population considers to be of paramount importance. If the student has the best interests of his art as well as his own at heart, one of the first lessons he will have to learn is that he can, in nine cases out of ten, accomplish much more good by adapting himself to circumstances imposed by logical customs than by forcing his prejudices or eccentrici­ties upon the public under the guise of the evidences of a strong individuality. The most individual char­acters of all time have shown their foresight again and again by justly compromising upon small matters until the time for the full fruition of their ideas came due. The close student will find that even such demonstrative and intrepid men as Napoleon, Byron, Wagner, and Farragut have in times of necessity ad­justed their affairs to conform with surroundings ex­tremely uncongenial to them.

When the musician attempts to conduct himself as if belonging to a different class or caste of society licensed to violate any or all of the time tried social customs he is defeating the purposes of his art. If he must be an iconoclast, let him confine his iconoclasm to his artistic work, and keep it entirely apart from transactions with his fellow-men. Music, after speech, is the most human of all forms of expression, and the musician should, by every rule of reason, be one of the people, in the broad meaning of the expression. It is only by coming in daily contact with “all sorts and conditions of men” that the creative or interpretative art-worker can ever hope to lay bare the secrets of the human soul. Ascetic music, like ascetic poetry, is often worthless. Bunyan was never alone while imprisoned. Robert Louis Stevenson, driven by ill health to a South Pacific isle, retained his grasp upon human interest by ming­ling with the natives and adapting himself to their century old customs. The step from civilization was a great one, but many musicians live more apart from the world than the master-poet.

If the musician sees that wide-awake business men are making profitable use of the “card system” of indexing information recorded and then fails to apply the same system to his professional work simply be­cause it has not been done extensively in the past, he is not only unprogressive, but is really retro­gressive, as some more progressive man will surely avail himself of the benefits of valuable modern busi­ness aids and thus place his rival behind him in the race for artistic and financial success. Publishers, writers, and inventors, in introducing new musical systems, have to contend with a lack of adaptability upon the part of the musician, parading under the colors of conservatism, and almost unknown in the other arts and professions. Many musicians are un­able or unwilling to undertake the examination of any other method than the one to which they have become “addicted.” The dentist who is ignorant of cataphoresis, the physician who is ignorant of the use of the fluoroscope, the astronomer who knows not of the use of the photographic telescope are usually considered “old fogies” in their respective profes­sions. The number of bright men in all of the pro­fessions is constantly increasing, and in music no variation to this rule of increase is observable. It is easier to learn by precept than by experience, al­though the latter way is far more convincing. Ex­perience, however, will inevitably lead the unpro­gressive musician to realize that it is almost as impossible to make the public adapt itself to his whims, eccentricities, or prejudices as it was for King Canute to make the sea recede at his bidding.

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You are reading The Necessity For Business Adaptability. from the May, 1902 issue of The Etude Magazine.

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