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Book Review Wayne C. Booth. For the Love ofIt: Amateuring and Its Rivals (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999). For the Love ofIt is a delightful exposition on life-long music making written with love by amateur cellist Wayne Booth (professor emeritus ofEnglish, University ofChicago). Employing a combination of journal entries, memories, and romantic prose on the topic oftaking up the cello at age thirty-one, he writes insightfully on the challenges and triumphs inherent in amateur pursuits (musical, or otherwise). Written from a classical music perspective, he analyzes the reasons for amateuring, all the while extolling his community offellow amateurs, pro-amateurs, and teachers who make the journey worthwhile. He imparts many valuable insights from which music educators can benefit. I will summarize Booth's main points, highlighting these insights, and conclude with a brief criticism of the book from theperspective ofone who has worked with adult amateurs for more than fifteen jears. Boothplayfullypresentshis text in the form ofa symphony. In the "Overture," he encourages people to pursue actively an amateur love and desires growth in the ranks of amateurs. Just as Christopher Small encouraged a mental shift from to musictothemoreactive gerund formmusicking in his book of that title,1 Booth promotes a shift from the noun amateurto the gerund amateuring. He defines amateuringas doing something for the sheer love of it, adding the caveat: "Amateurs don't just dabble, like serious professionals, they work at learningto do it better^11). This idea of constant improvement is reiteratedthroughout the book with detailedrecounting ofBooth's forty-six years of cello studies, especially his pursuit of excellent thumb position. Why one should study to this degree when full success (that is, professional performance) is out of reach? Booth suggests the following rewards: joyful friendship, spiritual ecstasy, and gratitude for life's mysterious unearned gifts (5, 6). Indeed, throughout the book Booth finds himself "getting better all the time," often "playing better than ever"(58, 112, 123, 137, 140). His feelings ofimprovement and the accompanying self-satisfaction are ajoy to see and reinforce the idea that theserewards make true amateuring worth it. In"First Movement: The Courtship,"music educators find a staunch supporter in Booth and gain insight into the importance of childhood music activities as seen through amateureyes. As Booth wiselystates,"No one inmidlifeis likelyto take up any instrument, let alone the cello, without having fallenin lovewithmusic longbefore"(21). Clearlyfrom a musical family, he describes beautiful childhood memories including dancing with his mother at age five; making up songs; taking piano and clarinet lessons; singing three-part solf├Ęge exercises in sixth grade; and hearing his first live orchestra concert, the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Leopold Stokowski (22-8). These types ofactivities lay an important foundation for the pursuit of music by adults as "amateuring in our early years can lead to a lifetime ofamateuring" (22). Booth is a champion ofmusic education in the schools. Concerned with music program cuts and the prevalence of personal stereos that keep young people from "getting music into their bones, not just their ears," he encourages the funding of music lessons rather than computer games (22). After describing how he was "seducedbythe cello," he concludesthis section with a discussion of how other pleasures rival for the amateur's attention, suggesting that leisure activities often take the form of passive pastimes, not the active work oftrue amateuring. LikeVemon HowardmLearningByAllMeans, Boothgrapples with the concept of work versus play. 2 If amateurs are to spend their leisure hours working diligently at getting better, the work must be┬ęPhilosophy ofMusic Education ReviewlO, no. 2 (Fall 2002): 140-143. Book Review 141 experienced as play-something they love to do. While professional musicians are paid to play, often playing for the love ofit fades as themoney blossoms. He maintains the distinction between amateurs and professionals lies not with being paid or unpaid, but with playing for love or solely for money. "My heroes ... are the professionals Icallpro-amateurs-thosewillingtojoinamateurs, pursuingthe love together," statesBooth (59, 60). I believe music educators are foremost among these heroes. In "Second Movement: The Marriage," many insights into the teachingofaging amateurs are provided. First, he observes that while his level of cello playing rises with age...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1543-3412
Print ISSN
1063-5734
Pages
pp. 140-143
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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