Favorite Sayings About Music…and Creativity

Seen on a T-shirt:

I’d rather be at a concert.

Seen on a T-shirt:

MUSICIAN:  Someone who packs $5,000 worth of gear into a car and drives 100 miles to make $50.

From another T shirt:

Without music, life would B-flat. (Imagine musical symbol here.)

He who sings prays twice.


Music is humans’ most advanced achievement. Trying to turn lead into gold is nothing compared to taking something mechanical like an instrument–a string and a bow–and using it to evoke a human soul.

–Christian Tetzlaff, violinist; quoted in The New Yorker

Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.

–Greek philosopher Plato

You must listen to the music of the past to be able to sing in the present and to dance in the future.

–Saying on one of my refrigerator magnets.

“Anything that one does seriously requires practice, and practice is habit. Rebellion, like creativity, doesn’t just fly off the walls. It’s pretty well studied and thought-through.”

— Choreographer and dancer Twyla Tharp, in the Washington Post, when she was a Kennedy Center honoree

Jazz is the sound of God laughing.

–Title of an essay included in This I Believe, vol. 1

“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.”

–Bob Marley

“If you’re ever lucky enough to turn out a good song, and then hear it years later, you’re young again. That’s the real reward. Take ‘The Man I Love.’ That song was written in 1924–just yesterday.”

–Ira Gershwin

“Music makes you feel a feeling. Words make you think a thought. A song makes you feel a thought.”

–Yip Harburg

Song is the joint art of words and music, two arts under emotional pressure coalescing into a third. The relation and balance of the two arts is a problem that has to be resolved anew in every song that is composed.

–Ira Gershwin’s favorite definition of song, from Encyclopedia Britannica


This will be our reply to violence, that we make music more intensely, more beautifully, and more devotedly than ever before.

–Leonard Bernstein

(The singer/songwriter Jesse Ruben saw this on the side of an NYC school. It inspires his EP, out next year.)

Practice any art–music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage–no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.

–Kurt Vonnegut, in the book Letters of Note


“Guitar is easy. All you need are six strings, five fingers, and one asshole.”

–Keith Richards, quoted in Play It Loud: A History of the Electric Guitar


Music is the divine way to tell beautiful, poetic things to the heart.

–Pablo Casals, cellist


Music is life!

–Edna Augustt, friend and helper







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