One of my most satisfying teaching hours every week is spent with a young man who is blind, non-verbal, autistic, and severely developmentally challenged.  After 16 years of study he is able, while inside of a piece of music, to exercise control and to feel emotional involvement in a way that seems not available to him otherwise, except on a purely animal level, perhaps, when he loses his temper, for example.
Today it was a matter of his performing together with me a duet in which I sang a counterpoint to the melody he played.  It was fascinating to behold his temptation to leave his line and join me in mine, and then to watch him grasp the real intensity of the situation: to resist going where I go and to stand firm with his own task.  
I don't know when I have been more deeply moved in teaching a lesson.
 
 
This is reacting the way animals react to sounds they hear but cannot yet identify, as children do before they are led to believe that music is notes or tunes.
Pre-conceptual hearing is open to all variants of vibration and timbre.   A good composer these days is trying to get you, the listener, back in touch with that kind of listening.  That is probably why there is so much percussion in classical music these days:  it has the magical quality that induces pre-conceptual hearing.
 
 
Just returned from a conference on music cognition at which I presented my work on Tonal Refraction, I was moved and delighted to see the participation of so many real musicians, not merely scientific types.  I was even more moved when the keynote speaker, Vijay Iyer, brought up the subject of "empathetic listening:"  which is at the very heart of everything I do in teaching, performing, and in my scholarship.

People have requested transcripts of the conference: unfortunately they do not exist. 

 
 
I heard a brilliant improvisor a few weeks ago providing organ music between parts of the mass.  It was, as usual, fascinating.  Then he played a chord unlike anything I had ever heard before.  Determined to remember it, I was astonished that it came up again in the course of the improv.
I do not listen analytically: I have no desire to do so.  If someone can produce an unforgettable sound that is more than enough.  I do not need to know what it was.  But I will not forget it.

 
 
Don't put your money on risk-free music:  "Taint wuth it, McGee!" as Molly used to say in her own inimitable but unforgettable (and definitely mis-spelled) way.
Where there is no risk there is no soul.  Mistakes are a sign of life, not of faulty preparation.

 
 
In a way, we are all born in cages, some larger than others, some more heavily fortified against escape and/or intrusion.
In my experience of music the biggest cage took the form of accepted "rules" governing music theory.  Early on it seemed clear to me that this discipline was attempting to tell me how I should hear music when, in fact, I did not hear it that way.
I clearly said, "No, thank you."