Michael Thallium: Music Makes Us Great

Michael ThalliumI had never written an article this way before. I am writing it at 35,239 feet high and about 7 hours from my final destination – this is at least what the screen says, while we are flying somewhere over Greenland. I would have liked to start writing it earlier, when we were crossing the skies over the Atlantic Ocean, but it has not been until now, that I opened my laptop and began to write. Anyway, it does not matter that much because while I am thinking what to write and looking around to observe the passengers around me in this Airbus heading for Los Angeles, the plane has come back to the skies over Atlantic waters, somewhere between Canada and Greenland.

I thought that writing from the skies was the perfect occasion to openly state that music makes us great and elevates us to great heights. Music, in each of its multiple forms, is a universal language. I use it a lot in my talks, in the courses I give, in my coaching sessions, in my language teaching. To me, for instance, a symphonic orchestra is a paradigm of team work and a great metaphor to explain what happens in the brain, in our daily lives, in the different organizations in which we work, live or relate to each other. Every musician with his own instrument wants to express his voice in this orchestra.

Antonio Damasio, in his book When Self Comes To Mind, uses a beautiful symphonic metaphor to explain how consciousness emerges in the human brain. Consciousness, the conscious mind, is the result of the work of many different areas of the brain, not just one. And the same thing happens with the performance of a symphonic work: it is not the result of one musician or instrument, not even the result of a whole instrumental section, it is the result of a whole orchestra. However, it is interesting to see that, in the early stages of the interpreting of consciousness, the conductor is missing before the concert starts. But as the concert develops, then the conductor comes to life. The conductor conducts the orchestra, but it is the concert that created the conductor -the subject, the Self-. The conductor himself improvises through the emotions, feelings and the story telling of the brain. Creating a mind which is able to remember its past and to anticipate its future and, moreover, that has the ability to reflect, is like interpreting a Gustav Mahler’s symphony. The 8th Symphony by Mahler, “Of a Thousand”, cannot be performed by just one musician, neither by a bunch of soloists. You require a multitude. The contribution of each of the parts is important, but only the whole of the instruments produces that great result. And there is something similar about the conscious mind, the Self.

That is why, among many other reasons, I think music makes us great and bonds us all. I am talking about music as a language, not as a business where egos and fashions come into play. I have already mentioned Rachel Flowers in some other articles. To me, she is a paradigm of greatness and how to overcome limitations through music:

Michelle van Min, another very young singer and song writer from Holland, captivated me when I discovered via Internet her song “The Middle Path”. Recently, Michelle has also written a song for this 2011 Christmas and you can watch it on Youtube if you like: Love on Christmas. And here her last song When I look back. Great!

Hardly a week ago, through a friend of mine (she is a pianist), I happened to learn about a 12 year old boy from New York, who likes to call himself “Blue Jay”. He is another musical prodigy and has already composed several symphonies. Great!

Since I live in Madrid, I cannot help talking about an event that takes place every Wednesday at Café Teatro Arenal. This is another example of greatness. My friend Shahar Rosenthal organizes what he calls the “Wednesdays of Chamber Music”. If most of the people living in or visiting Madrid knew that they can enjoy artists such as Joshua Bell just for 10 €, I am sure they would attend this place every week en masse.

But it is also true that without awareness, without our conscious minds knowing that, greatness can be unnoticed, too.

Yes, music makes us great. When I started writing this article, I was in a plane. That was three days ago. Now that I am finishing it, I must confess, dear reader, that I find myself in a room surrounded by the toys of a 10 year old child. It is 06:00 am here in Oxnard, California. The other three people in the house are sleeping. The toys belong to Vaughan, who is sleeping in another room close to his mum. In the other room, there is another person sleeping. This is the person who made Steve Brant, David Presley and myself among others feel great yesterday: Rachel Flowers! And yes, I came all the way down from Spain to feel myself really great!

Oxnard, 19th December, 2011.

Michael Thallium
Global & Greatness Coach
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