If you’ve read the intro, you’ve likely gathered that I’m an architect. It’s truly a wonderful and personally rewarding way to make a living (though I confess there have been occasions when I’d have been just as happy pounding nails with my skull!) On the better days, I get to use both sides of my brain, tap dancing my way through the worlds of art and science, spirituality and technology. I’ve always known that I wanted to be an architect, and I honestly believe that I was pre-wired for the job. As a kid, I’d watch the houses in my neighborhood being built, and I’d sneak onto jobsites to collect bits of scrap to take home and build with. I enjoyed drawing, and to this day I find it hard to describe things to people without doing a sketch. I can look at virtually any building – any object, for that matter – and visualize how the pieces go together to make it work. Luckily for me, it’s mostly intuitive . . . I see it, I get it.

On the other hand, there are some things that I just can’t seem to get a handle on, no matter how hard I try. One of those things: music . . .

I love music. I feel music. It’s been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I have a fundamental appreciation for many genres, classical to rock, jazz to blues. I can hear how it comes together, I can sense the layering of the composition, the moods and the inflections. But try as I may, I have failed miserably at understanding basic music theory. All those lines and dots on the page make me dizzy. And don’t even talk to me about roots and chords and progressions.

I’m at a loss to explain it. At its core, isn’t music merely an artistic expression of a scientific language? Simple math, right? These are things that I tend to do well with, but it’s difficult for me to study at a piece of sheet music and have any idea what I’m looking at. If I break it down to individual notes, one at a time, I’ll figure out the first line sometime next week. Is it really that hard? Or am I missing some grey matter? I’ve even tried approaching it as if it were a foreign language, but at this point I’m fairly convinced that I could become fluent in Chinese or Arabic, maybe both, in a fraction of the time. Other people seem to pick it up with nary a hint of the torment that I’ve gone through. I’ve watched my own kids learn it. It’s all very humbling.

Maybe this is the “old dog, new tricks” phenomenon. I honestly don’t know. What I do know is that when it comes to music, I’m still, and may forever be, just a spectator.