Opinion vs. Fact

I would love to have some place where people with differing views can talk and listen to each other. I find that sometimes I cannot even talk with my left leaning friends because they so strongly hold their beliefs as gospel as much as my right leaning friends do.

This actually relates to music as when is it a stylistic choice and when is it inaccurate interpretation. Wasn’t Glen Gould considered to present Bach in a stylistically inaccurate (dare some say inappropriate) way? But first on to my recent experience.

I love talking to my friends who are members of the Latter Day Saints. They are some of the smartest, most loving, open-minded people I know. I have never seen such a high-functioning family. They have children from ages six months to eighteen. I love watching how the parents accept each of their seven children’s personalities and needs. I enjoy seeing the balance of autonomy and group in their household. I feel my short-comings are accepted because my strengths are valued. I am learning a lot from them about community and that not all families are dis-functional.

They held my year-end flute student party at their house. As we were coming to a close, their eldest brought in two cases of Coke. I thought that their church was against any sort of mood/body enhancing substance. So I asked them. They said that according to the prophecy and it’s interpretation, the hot drinks are coffee and tea, not caffeine. I thought that the practice was honoring your body as a temple and that drinking any caffeinated beverage would be against the spirit of the law.

They are very spiritual people and follow their faith closely. We couldn’t continue the conversation as long as I wanted to—I had to say good bye to students and their families, etc. As I was driving home, I realized that I wanted them to believe what I believe: that the spirit of the law is more truthful than the letter of the law.

However, what if I needed to accept that they got something valuable from following the letter. It wasn’t my place to judge their faith for them. I can let them hold their belief and still have my opposing belief.

I think deciding to accept someone else and how they live their life comes down to—if it isn’t fact, ie. just an opinion—does it infringe on someone else? If it doesn’t then live and let live.

Personally, I still think that trying to make others believe what we believe as being THE right way is what causes so much conflict. However, facts are very different from belief. Facts are indisputable. But that is just my humble opinion. I talked with someone who has a relative that believes in the flat earth theory. I find that hard to let them hold that belief, because there are so many facts telling us the earth is round.

It is a fact that the earth is round—it is not an opinion

What about musical interpretation? It’s just a belief that we should play music from a certain time period they way that the instruments of that day played. If string quartets can play arrangements of rock tunes and rock bands arrange Renaissance music why can’t performers play melodies the way that feels right for the time they are living in? Can we let world musical styles influence our playing with respect and not appropriation? With the access and availability of sounds from around the world aren’t we restricting ourselves as artists if we can’t allow ourselves to be influenced by and incorporate others’ sounds?

I probably will get some backlash for stating this opinion, and that is fine. Leave it in the comments so that we can all grow. I believe that the artistic spirit goes beyond color and culture. Am I limited to playing Wagner, Rimsky-Korsakov and Klezmer music just because of my descent? People of color should be able to play Western classical music as much as white European descendents can play blues or Native American flutes, Asian Gamalan, North Indian classical music, or African influences. Improvisers and composers should be able to use the sounds and rhythms that are around us to create our music that is so permeable today. But, that is just my opinion.