Bob Wiseman believes most things in life are universal, or, as his friend Joe once said, everything is everything. Bearing in mind this fortune cookie advice, Wiseman writes about finding the link between music and daily tasks, like teaching a five-year-old “Twinkle, Twinkle” and doing the dishes each night. Bob writes daily, the way someone else might practice scales; although his sense of the instrument and the musician has changed over the years, Bob adheres to doing exercises that have wider connections than whether the strings are in tune. Each entry is unique and compellingly written, but the themes throughout — on improvisational music, life lessons, and conflict — are ubiquitous.
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Bob Wiseman likes having fun. He was on CNN lying about wanting to change his name to Prince; he played accordion on “If I Had a Million Dollars” by the Barenaked Ladies; he produced Kid in the Hall Bruce McCulloch’s “Shame-Based Man”; he was the composer for The Drawer Boy, winner of the 2018 Best Feature Film at the Canadian Film Awards; and Odetta took his hands in hers and kissed them after hearing him play prepared piano at the Bitter End on Earth Day 2000. He was also a founding member of Blue Rodeo but quit in the early ’90s when he no longer found it fun.
Published: June 2020
Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.5 in.
“Wiseman's bite-size anecdotes, koans, allegories and highly stylish fragments, torn either from his memoirs or the pages of user manuals for unknown appliances, are super-smart, hilarious, highly addictive and persistent in their insistence on lingering in the reader's mind long after first encounter! Bravo, Bob!” — Guy Maddin, filmmaker
“Reading Music Lessons is like listening to the finest of mix-tapes, curated by that disarmingly philosophical friend who knows way more about music than you do. A must-read for musicians, students of music, parents of students of music and anyone who's ever thought an MRI machine sounds like industrial ambient rock.” — Carolyn Taylor of Baroness Von Sketch
“o my, this is fucking genius!!! making me smile like a 2 month old baby farting!!! real fucking cool style of writing. i’m sold on being amazed by page 2!” — Rami Jaffee of Foo Fighters
“You can say what you like about Bob Wiseman, but I would like to see you try and make it stick.” — Peter Paul Van Camp, poet
“Like most of Bob Wiseman's artistic endeavours, his book Music Lessons flows effortlessly, teaming with all the honesty, insight, curiosity, humour, integrity, originality, quirkiness, and mischievousness you've come to expect from this amazing, singular voice.” — Greg Richling, music producer, formerly of The Wallflowers
“Music Lessons has taught me to never underestimate the keyboard virtuosity of its author, whether is be via a piano tsunami, or a typed tirade well-tempered by poetry and wit.” – John Oswald, composer
“Each little bonsai-essay, exchange, or pedestrian encounter (the sweet lemon-drop, the subtle caramel, or the tart Swedish Fish) makes you glad Mr. Wiseman took the trouble to write these memorable, provocative, and deeply intelligent/inquisitive/poetic/philosophical improvisations.” – David Gaines, writer/actor/teacher
“Wiseman's Music Lessons belongs beside Sei Shonagan's Pillow Book, John Cage's ‘one-minute stories,’ and Eduardo Galeano's collections of stories. Equal parts wisdom and whimsy, these are ‘lessons’ for musicians, parents, artists and anyone who wants to learn better to pay attention.” — Chris Cavanagh, Storyteller, The Catalyst Centre Popular Education Co-op
“Music Lessons is funny, tender and at times profound. It is a brilliant and unusual memoir of a life dedicated to music told by a silver tongued storyteller. His voice in prose is as precise as it is in his music and his unpacking of the creative process and how best to access it is a master class from a great artist. I always knew Bob Wiseman could write a great song. It turns out he can write just about anything.” — Scott Thompson of Kids In The Hall
“Reading Music Lessons is like reading the words of a modern day Sufi. It just kept getting me in my gut . . . so many multifaceted truths, hilarities and microcosms. I feel if Rumi was a smart-ass activist musician/teacher in 2020, he’d have written this book.” — Serena Ryder, performer
“Inspired by the mysterious and the ordinary, Wiseman offers insightful observations about the musician’s life. Whether he is passionately listening to music, to his daughter’s questions, to struggling students, or to industry professionals, Wiseman delivers the playful musings of a skillful story teller.” — Leanna McLennan, writer and educator
“Now that these entries have been published, I have no more use for FB.” – Steve Jordan, Founder, Polaris Music Prize
“Bob embodies the Toronto I lived in for ten years. Self deprecating, artistically puritanical, and totally comfortable wearing overalls at the bank.” – Graham Wagner, writer for The Office and Portlandia