Music Music Education

Silence between the Notes

I attended a semi-staged production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute last week. What a delight! It’s no wonder that this opera has captivated audiences for more than 200 years.

Mozart Magic Flute StampIt was particularly enjoyable to experience it in an intimate setting with performers, orchestra, and action so close that it felt as if we were all part of the production.

Scholars have debated the underlying messages within The Magic Flute from the beginning. There are few operas open to such multiple meaningful interpretations. It offers directors, performers, and audiences an opportunity to explore it again and again, continually making new discoveries.

While The Magic Flute’s overarching story speaks to the many tests we must face as we move through life, the real interpretive magic comes through reflection, awareness, and ever-deeper personal understanding of who we are as human beings. That experience doesn’t necessarily happen in the notes or dialog, but rather through the stillness that can be found in each individual’s innermost thoughts and feelings.

The music is not in the notes, but in the silence between.
~ Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Beyond the technique of space and silence in works of art, this concept is also reflective of the artistic process itself. Silence is a place where many things grow and flourish—awareness of everything outside of yourself as well as everything within. While performing artists spend hours expertly playing or singing the notes in music, they spend lifetimes perfecting the pauses between notes. That’s where the true artistry resides. They focus and concentrate, going into their minds and hearts to become ever-more aware of all the nuances that can be found in that quiet place.

It is amazing how powerful silence can be. What are the benefits of silence in everyday life?

  • Ideas, insights, and creative answers to problems come more easily.
  • It can give you more energy and help you get things done.
  • You can become more focused and aware of all the things happening around you.


It can help you know yourself better.

Music and silence combine strongly because music is done with silence, and silence is full of music.

~ Marcel Marceau

Mozart Statue, Vienna, AustriaDo you turn on the radio every time you get in your car? Do you turn on the television or music every moment when in your house? Do you sit at your computer every free moment? The world is a noisy place these days. Explore stillness—the silences between words and sentences and the quiet beauty of the environments where you live and work—and use the artistic process to build your life as art.

Mozart’s music is so pure and beautiful that I see it as a reflection of the inner beauty of the universe.

~ Albert Einstein

Mozart builds anticipation through his compositional technique to create dramatic pause, building tension and withholding resolutions. The pauses prolong the tension of the preceding buildup of tension creating a dynamic, charged silence. Silence is part of what gives the music such beauty and life. Experiment with this powerful resource, using it artistically in conversations and as a compositional technique of living and working.