Music from Johanastan: Exhibit A

In the country of Johanastan, instead of weapons, people carry musical instruments.  When people meet, instead of Hello!, How are you?, What have you been up to?, they take harmonicas and castanets and bells and drums and flutes from their pockets, purses, backpacks, briefcases, and play. In this way, they communicate, learning things about each other that words can not convey.

Listen, for example, to the tuba player and the piccolo player, across the plaza, waiting for the trolley. Can't you hear the losses they have suffered and the new love they've discovered? And what about the woman playing oboe and the man playing bongos, over there at the cafe.  Clearly, they have their differences.

Like everywhere in the world, some people in Johanastan prefer to play alone, down by the river, or on the front stoop, while others enjoy playing in the park among friends.  And then there are those who head out everyday, looking forward to playing music with complete strangers.

Tad Neuhaus, guitar; Joanna Dane banjo

In Johanastan, no one can remember when they started playing music because everyone began as soon as they could hold a rattle.

Sometimes the music people play is beautiful and harmonious. Other times, it is dissonant, off tune, and nonrhythmic.  But to the people of Johanastan, that is not discouraging or irritating. It is just the way things are.

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