Signal Hill has long been a communications point on the Southern California landscape. In an earlier era, Native Americans signaled their brethren with fire and smoke, from Santa Catalina Island to the foothills of the Coastal Range bordering what is now L.A.

Today the signals are electronic, connecting us--at the click of a mouse--to vast, new worldwide networks.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Public Practice at the LA Music Center

This month more than 30 adult amateur musicians of all skill levels, playing various instruments--from harp to harmonium-- will help animate the outdoor spaces of the LA Music Center. They will be practicing--not performing--their instruments there, as part of the Music Center's Public Practice program. (Click on link.)

I chose to practice my guitar in the program--I'm learning a Villa-Lobos piece--for several reasons:

1. It is a thrill to practice at the Music Center, and to be somehow connected to the creativity that this great institution has promoted and shared for so many years. But, more importantly, the institution is changing. It is transforming itself from a performing arts center to a civic cultural center, using participatory arts and its public spaces to build community. I want to support that transformation.

2. Music is more than a product--a performance or a CD. It is a process, (See Process Philosophy for a synopsis of Alfred North Whitehead's philosophy.) and an important part of that process is practice. Practice is disciplined preparation to achieve a performance goal, or it may be a heart-felt letting go to simply enjoy the sound and the process of learning. I want to experience that.

3. Music is RELATIONSHIP. It explores affirms and celebrates one's link with the Great Pattern that connects the whole living world. The late composer John Cage had a very expansive understanding of music. He urged us to fully listen to our soundscape, where we might find music in what may be formerly considered cacophonous noise. Public Practice offers me the opportunity to be in, and contribute to, the downtown LA soundscape.

4. Finally, the West Coast, and Los Angeles and the Music Center in particular, are known for their spirit and promotion of experimentation in the arts. I feel fortunate to be able to participate--in some small way--in that experiment.

Seen from this perspective, Public Practice is at the heart of arts promotion for building community. I look forward to my time next week of practicing in public, along with the sounds of the Peace Fountain (see photo) and the City.

-- RCH


  1. I'll be sure to remember point 3, the Great Pattern of our soundscape, the next time I hear the yappy-yippy dog next door sound off for hours.

    The Girl Next Door

  2. Ha Ha! Yes, its all about perspective... relish the soundscape, unless it keeps you up at night. -- RCH

  3. A wonderful perspective on beauty, and community. Thanks for sharing!