I squinted my eyes half-shut, tried to ignore the instant headache, and quickly shook my head.
"Then you don't have the aptitude."
He looked taken aback, and the conversation ended. Perhaps I was a little harsh on him. I understand what he meant to convey, and I realize he had only good intentions. Unfortunately, he had slammed a hammer against one of my soapbox nerves, and there was really no way to backpedal.
His aptitude: He probably had naturally fast fingers. Perhaps he had an admirable ear and could easily sound pieces out on the piano or guitar. Undoubtedly, he loved music. He felt that, if his life had traveled along a different path, he could have been a musician.
And all of those things are important to feel, no matter where you lie on the musician-spectrum; whether you're a professional earning your living from music or an amateur going to concerts in your spare time, feeling intrinsic love and admiration is what makes music continue to live and breathe in our 21st-century world. So, I'm not simply launching a snarky attack on anyone who isn't a musician (or, for that matter, an artist).
It's just that term: magic. Harry Potter aside, magic doesn't even exist; we all know that. What children interpret as 'magic' is really slight of hand or other trickery. Music is most definitely not magic. It's work. It's dedication. It's persistance and thoughtfulness and diligence. It's anything but magic.
So, to say you "had the aptitude, but didn't want to lose the magic" means that you don't have the aptitude at all. Part of the aptitude of being a musician is the ability to problem solve, to delve deeper and figure out how to portray to a listener your understanding and love for a piece of music.
Of course, this doesn't only apply to music; really, to fully appreciate any field requires total immersion. What we do with our lives depends on where we want to assign attention; music seems to be what speaks to me, but our world needs all types.
So, yes -- absolutely, when you start to really explore music -- when you comprehend the inner workings of a piece of music, when you push over the top of a climactic phrase, when you discover how important a single note always is... perhaps then music migrates to a different spot in the brain.
It's not simple joy anymore; it's joy compounded with knowledge. It's math and science grabbing the hands of art and literature, infinitely spiraling in the most graceful of all DNA dances.
And that? Well, it's absolute ecstasy, and certainly much better than magic.