W. A. Mathieu is a composer, pianist, and teacher whose distinguished career spans five decades. He is a bestelling recording artist who has his own label, Cold Mountain Music. Mathieu has written three other books including The Musical Life. In this superb collection of short and pungent essays, this creative genius opens doors to music, ears, listening, walking, originality, practice, and singing. The material moves from an appreciation of everyday sounds to sophisticated pieces on the magic of music and the spell it casts. Or as Mathieu states: "[the book] shows you how listening can be a way of life, and how life can become musical to the awakened ear."

In the opening section, we are treated to essays on:

• making sound the bridge that leads us out of our skin and into vivid contact with animals;
• the game of making a list of sounds in the city as notes for a symphony;
• the art of listening to people;
• eschewing the toxins of advertising which put the ears into "a coma";
• practicing the skill of listening to music with your whole self.

In a wonderful piece on liberating sounds, Mathieu writes:

"From the most unlikely sources come the sweetest sounds. Some of them may have been waiting for their freedom. Do your part. The vibrational world needs you. Whack it! Tap it softly and put your ear right up next to it. Or give it a jolt and stand back. Remember, one honors a thing by vibrating it."

There is such thematic richness and lyrical beauty in Mathieu's writing as he probes silence, discovering your own music, mistakes, finding a teacher, age matters, and the magical scale. This is the kind of book you don't want to put down as you move from one bounty to another!