Today I had the most excellent time. Joanne from the British Council here in Chongqing had asked local residents to design a day out for me. The winner was Angelina who is sitting on the left in his picture. It was a packed day and we met with many interesting people from musicians and photographers to actors and the head of the University. I will make another post about this day later but for now I want to communicate a story I heard this evening that touched me deeply. Mr Xiao Nengzhu in the centre of this picture is a very wise and experienced scholar. He is a lover of music and traditional arts in particular. We experienced a qin (Chinese stringed instrument) performance today and I was shown scores for this ancient music. They consisted of stories that you were intended to relate to and then convey in the performance. Mr Xiao told me about a lesson he had had with a very old qin player, he died two years ago having lived to 93. The old masterr said to him “I don’t teach technique, I teach the stories. Once the student understands the stories then they will be able to play.” How far is that from our preoccupation with theory and technique? I feel incredibly blessed to have received that message via Mr Xiao. It’s something you sort of already know but to have it communicated to you across ages in a distant culture helps to confirm your thinking. If Steve Tromans reads this I know he will dig it.