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“Rediscovering Wonder”: Dean Blocker’s Convocation Address

This is the text of Dean Robert Blocker’s address to the incoming class at the Yale School of Music Convocation, which took place September 9, 2013.

Convocation-014“What is wonder?” asked the mind. “It is having your heart dazzled and your life forever changed,” answered the soul. WONDER—an ineffable word—a transcendent experience.

When did wonder visit you, capture you, envelop you, and squeeze you so tight that you were left breathless and gasping for air? Was it your first great performance at the age of five, the moment you heard a phrase shaped more beautifully than you could imagine, or when you were frozen in place as you entered one of the world’s great concert halls? MORE

Published September 12, 2013
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Margins and Mirrors: Dean Blocker’s Convocation Address

Robert Blocker, Dean of the School of Music, delivered this address to the incoming class at the School’s Fall Convocation on September 6, 2012.


Tonight I want to think with you about the margins and mirrors that determine the course and quality of our lives. Margins are measurements of time and space that establish borders and boundaries, and in so doing, can unleash a transformative DNA in our lives. Some margins are flexible while others are fixed.

A margin is most frequently defined as the border of a printed page. For most of you, a more current application would be the white space surrounding text on your iPad. We make notes in the margin to expand or question the text. We extend the boundary.

I am reminded of Beethoven’s manuscript of the Grosse Fuge four-hand piano transcription. On two adjoining pages of the score, everything had been marked out – the pages were almost black. The margins were filled and also crossed out, with the exception of one boldly boxed measure. Here he writes a few notes on a handwritten staff surrounded by a bold black ink border in the furthest margin of the page where it could be seen. Beethoven characteristically stretched the boundary: one marginal measure survives from two full pages and margins of creative energy and output. MORE

Published September 13, 2012
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