Something my wife Anne noticed about the local Mexican kids & the gringo kids we've known. We gringos go to school; the teachers see how kids are doing in comparison with others who may have been drawing, painting, singing [or reading, working math, etc] before they arrived and they'll say [about somebody else]: "This kid is Gifted! He's going to grow up to be a ____!" Too often (whether we get called 'talented' or just get passed over) we believe our teacher. In USian education, you're a Star or you ain't nuthin!

The Mexican kids, however, with nobody teaching them any better, grow up thinking they can just pick up a brush and paint. They do so; and the results are visible in many wonderful murals here & in Tijuana, etc. [You can google photos of Chicano Park & see some of the better known examples.]

I grew up thinking that 1) I really wanted to play trumpet like my father used to and that 2) music was Good or Bad and my folks would be horribly disappointed if I made or enjoyed anything Bad. It took me some long time just coming to feel free to admit: I like ___! (though "That's awful!" came all too easily.) I didn't feel as strongly about visual arts but certainly felt equally 'untalented.' One thing I literally couldn't stand was criticism -- and I got some, of course -- and took it very badly, of course, as I've done with many things many times in my life. [I'm still Sensitive, but I ain't fragile anymore, so feel free!]

It's been fortunate that Anne & I have very similar tastes in classical music (I'd gone ape over Marin Marais some time before we met & I learned she played viola da gamba) and I can live with her usually not liking rock music much because the rockier end of the rock spectrum always struck me, too as [in Terry Pratchett's phrase] like "music with rocks in it." Too much thump, too much frantic excitement, naw! Makes my mind jump too much.

But she's picky. Music to her is structured, written down. Improvisation was a feature of the early music she studied; but she herself thinks of it as a special talent she lacks. Give her some sheet music, and she'll play it. Tell her "sit down & doodle" and she can't/won't. She can paint, wonderfully, beautifully -- sometimes outrageous images -- but it's controlled, precise, utterly walk-into-it realistic. I know I can't do that and I don't try. My paintings look like... A woman on the bus looked at the painting of Dorothy Day I was carrying, and asked, "Did you paint that?" "Uh, yeah!"..... "Ummm.... It's different."

She has discipline; I have Nonpracticer's Guilt. She has Taste (which must be good because I do agree with it, aside from a few very good pieces that drive me up the wall.) She abhors my whistling...

But I've had this garage sale keyboard around the place for a very long time ago; and I've been learning some things about audio software (Pure Data, csound, Grace, etc).  & I have earphones.

I'm never going to sound like I've faithfully practiced an instrument all my life, studied & practiced composition at a university music department, etc. But (if you like this sort of thing) some of it sounds good. I mean, it has Beauty. I don't know what that is, but there it is.

[other examples? I'll be posting them now & then at

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