So, let’s pretend there is this prospect, a guy who  has been pestering dealers up and down the east coast for a couple of weeks. He doesn’t play, is relocating and well to do, looking to buy a piano for his family and wants to buy something good. He started looking for a used Steinway because he knew that was what he should get, right?

Well, let’s pretend that a skilled dealer delivered his “epiphany”, namely that there are wonderful high end pianos in other parts of the world.   Now lets say the problem is that he has (remember, we’re pretending) a very incorrect notion of what these instruments cost and is beating up every dealer trying to buy one of these instruments ( a very specific model) below cost. Seems he’s a big shot financier and, well, you probably know the type.

I’m very very happy that he had his epiphany. But here is the rub.

An epiphany without conversion is, well, pointless.

This guy had the awakening; the realization that this small, arcane, weird and often impenetrable world of high end pianos is really a cultural wonderland, full of people creating wonderful objects with dedication, unbelievable skill and a deep appreciation of history. The people in this world get immense satisfaction from being part of  that world. We love the instruments and  we love what musicians do with them. We are truly part of something bigger than ourselves and are lucky enough to scratch out a living doing it. Nobody goes into this business for the money. We’ve all been bitten by the bug and we’re now hopeless, irredeemable addicts.

He got that taste, that realization that there is something beyond the marketing hype. But….he wasn’t converted. He saw the world but doesn’t really believe in it. Hopefully he’ll buy something and will spend his time telling his pals about the great deal he got and what a great negotiator he is. He won’t tell them about the realization, his new respect and wonder for a world he didn’t know existed.The experience probably won’t drive him to take piano lessons himself.

It is very much like ones experience with serious (classical) music. Maybe your epiphany was hearing Claire de lune, or the Pachelbel Canon or the 4th movement of Beethovens 9th Symphony.  Maybe it was Andrea Bocelli. You heard something quite unlike anything you had heard before and for some reason, it worked for you, it captured your ear and imagination and made you feel something that no other music had made you feel.

Now, what did you do? Did you begin to seek out other symphonies by Beethoven, did you begin to explore the world of Debussy or tune in classical radio to learn more? Did you begin to seek out singers and happen to stumble on Jessye Norman, or Ravel’s Asie, or Strauss’s Four Last Songs? And, when you heard Jessye for the first time or even that silly “Italian singer” in Rosenkavalier, did the hair on the back of your neck stand up and did you find yourself thanking something or somebody for introducing you to this new, wonderful world?

Or did you just buy the CD and listen to the same piece over and over, feeling smug that you can now say you like classical music without the danger or work of learning whether or not it held anything more for you.

This guy makes me think of somebody who could get Andrea Bocelli tickets for $40 or Jessye Norman tickets for $60. Fine, he’ll go to hear Jessye if you’ll give him the tickets for the same price as Bocelli. Otherwise, he’ll go see Bocelli. They’re both singers, right? And the Bocelli show will have big screen television projection and a snack bar and lights and T shirts and it’s just Jessye and a pianist. Why should I pay more money for fewer people involved?

The person who has the epiphany without the conversion has no idea how close he or she came to a life changing experience.

Remember, I’m just pretending. Any resemblence to somebody in, oh never mind.