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.
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.
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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