Zen and the Art of Music

Nearly ten years ago I wrote Zen and the Art of Piano and planned to write Zen and the Art of Music after a short break. Instead I formed a symphony orchestra, The Carolina Philharmonic.

I've finally begun to write and will start posting here shortly. Compared to the former opus, Zen and the Art of Music will be shorter and more concise, and more imbued with zen portals into musical understanding, and vice versa.

As I've transformed from a pianist into a conductor, I've also grown less bound to 88 keys and more attracted to the essence of what music does for each of us individually as well as collectively. How does music shape our identity? 

I'll touch on these as well as other often asked questions, such as, "What does a conductor really do?" and "How does a conductor get 100 souls to dance and sing as one?"

Music has a certain magic to it, a magic infused with zen. If you start to see the energy underneath music instead of dwelling on the surface emotion, you see that lines of energy and rhythm guide the architecture. This too I'll attempt to describe. How can you work with the flow of energy instead of against it? Just as a great martial artist can defeat the opponent using his own energy, so a zen music master learns to bend musical energy to his will, or better, ride it effortlessly by bending himself to the will of music.

Check back in as I attempt to bring a touch of zen to musicians and music-lovers, and to myself.


If you understand, things are just as they are; if you do not understand, things are just as they are.

– Zen proverb


“Zen has no business with ideas.”

– D.T. Suzuki


“And when they played they really played. And when they worked they really worked.”

– Dr. Seuss