As I ponder over the plethora of technical gadgets that found their way under the Christmas tree this Christmas past, I cannot help but feel that these days one has to have a certain technical dexterity that goes far beyond getting around our beloved instrument. The array of new computers, iPad minis and iPhones which emerged from the mountain of wrapping paper on Christmas morning would need to be set up with their new users, necessitating an intimate knowledge of how to get into the local W-LAN network, knowing the WEP code how to set up an email account, a Facebook account, security setting and everything else that would be required to get these technical gadgets of the 21st century to fulfill their promise. This can put a send a shiver down the spine of a lot of people!

Being a person who revels in the technical challenges of life, I rise to the challenge and do not dwell on the early years when my children were younger, which meant spending the rest of Christmas Day putting together models, trying to get toys to work – only to find that you had forgotten to buy a truck-load of batteries in all different shapes and sizes to make the toys come to life!

Although opening up a new world of super fast communication through email, text messaging, and the disembodied speaking assistant Siri, this new technology does not come without its problems. Take the orchestra opera rehearsals recently at my school, where the conductor almost cancelled the project due to the horn players’ inattention and lack of concentration, missing and messing up entries, owing to the fact that several of them had their heads buried in their smart phones rather than in the music! A blanket ban of all gadgets in rehearsals ensued!

At least peace of mind comes in the fact that communication through music is a language that cannot be turned into text-speak and does not lend itself to any other form of ‘simplification’ – it requires, just like the words you speak, to be intelligible, logical, and from the heart telling the story and not just speaking the words.

A small box was buried under the Christmas wrapping debris around the tree with my name on – it turned out to be an ink pen, something I’d actually been wanting for a while. Whether an attempt by Santa Claus to keep a semblance of traditional values in my methods of communication, or the desire to improve my handwriting – which I must admit will never achieve the speed of my typing – I am not sure. But one thing is for sure: I am looking forward to opening the box and getting to grips with my new writing implement, but as I sit here on my computer writing this, the small box is still sitting in the corner, unopened.

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