W ell it’s nice to be back. Like John Howard with a triple bypass, Limelighthas risen like Lazarus. It makes you smile, and smiling is the subject of this month’s soapbox. I saw a YouTube clip the other day of Joe Hisaishi – composer of My Neighbour Totoro, a popular Japanese anime film. He arrived at a concert to play the jaunty theme, turned to the small orchestra and put his fingers on either end of his mouth, indicating the musicians should smile. Smile they did, for at least 30 bars or so before they reverted to their normal serious faces.

Playing an instrument takes a great deal of concentration and people rarely smile when they are concentrating. They furrow their brows and look intense, so it is unreasonable to expect musicians to put on a facial show. Oboists in particular need to apply so much pressure on the double reed that they look like they are about to explode. You can’t smile playing a trumpet or a trombone while tuba players look like divers taking massive gulps of oxygen before descending to grab an abalone. Violinists and viola players are so busy holding...

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