(Originally posted in January 2010)
Sometimes this happens to be the first question I ask upon meeting someone new. I ask this to a stranger hoping that I don’t have to engage in a small talk which I’m utterly bad at. And I ask myself: what are the odds they say no to that question…? I really don’t get to meet people from outside the music field anyway. They all should have something to say about Bach. What a nice way to skip the small talk and get straight to the substantial conversation!
You do not find many musicians who are into fishing or football. No, not soccer, I mean American football. Another conversation starter line would be: “what instrument do you play?” — this is indeed a good one, but there’s higher possibility, I think, of my not being able to respond appropriately for the sake of continuous conversation. If the company answers “I play the beer-bottle organ” what do I say to that? Since I would be seriously interested in hearing the reason why this person could dislike Bach, my genuine “why not?” could indeed stimulate the conversation. For me, that Bach question is the easiest way to pass through the social awkwardness and get to the real exchange.