Cognitive Dissonance

What are two opposing thoughts you hold in your head?

Tonight in rehearsal a student mentioned that they had mistakenly sung a different pronunciation of Christmas in class. We usually pronounce it with a short i in the second syllable (rhymes with Swiss Miss) but in class they often pronounce it with a schwa.

I challenged them to hold two different thoughts at once – the definition of cognitive dissonance. It’s something I’ve grown increasingly comfortable with in my life, and I think a valuable skill in life. You often see a need for cognitive dissonance in music – whether learning two different arrangements of the Star Spangled Banner (or singing melody as a solo or alto with a quartet), interpreting slightly differently on repeats of the same music or any number of examples.

I can’t find the original, but I read a great philosophical approach recently: “when I hear two opposing viewpoints, I try to imagine a world big enough for both to be true.”

The world’s pretty big. Let’s see how many ideas about it we can hold at once.