For all of his childhood, the young boy had heard the musicians in the streets and alleyways of the towns near his village. Though he could never afford the lavish prices of the musical shows, he still wanted to travel to hear music every morning. His father took him most days for many years, but his father had been badly injured and could no longer guide him. The boy's ears were flooded with silence. Still, he sought to learn the way of the musician, even if he could not hear music much in his home. And so he asked his father what to do, and his father said: "There is a wise old teacher atop the mountain. He has made music his entire life, and all of the musicians of the towns know his name. If he sees you a musician, then a musician you will become." Eagerly, the young boy prepared to scale the mountain where the teacher lived. Though he wished to bring a flute or something with strings, he knew he had to leave soon if he wanted to make it before the night darkened the mountain. And so he climbed. Though he moved so quickly at first, the mountain grew steep as he climbed higher. But before he left, his father had advised him that climbing the mountain would be easier than becoming a musician. He remembered his father's words and climbed even as he grew sore and tired. The boy arrived exhausted. He knocked on the old wise man's door and was greeted in a moment by a kindly old fellow. "Hello!" The wise man greeted the boy, noting how tired he looked and asking him what could have brought him all the way up the mountain. "I want to be a musician. Will you teach me?" The boy spoke as clearly and sternly as if he were twice his age and half as tired. "I will," said the wise man, "but first, you must tell me the most important part of being a musician." The boy sat guessing for what felt like hours. "Making songs!" "Playing for people!" "Making people like it!" "Playing with friends!" Each time the boy guessed, the wise man shook his head. The boy's motivation fell as the wise man continued to reject his answers. "You are not ready. If you wish to be taught, you must go into town and ask the musicians there. When you understand the answer, you will be my student." The boy looked to the sunset. "May I stay here until the morning? I did not know it would be this hard to reach you." "Of course," replied the teacher, "but you must wake with the sun and the song of the birds. You may not linger here unless you are my student." The boy slept and then left as daylight broke. He made his way back down the mountain far more easily than his climb, dreading the return trip to meet the wise man along the way. He reached town long before the morning was over. Overcome by the sounds of a flute, he made his way towards the temple where the street performer was playing. As the flutist took a break, the boy eagerly asked "excuse me sir, but could you tell me the most important part of being a musician?" "Aha!" Said the flutist, "A new student." The boy looked confused. "I have been taught by the wise man too! I know the answer that you seek." The boy's confusion transformed into joy. "Please! Please! Tell me!" "The most important part of being a musician is playing from your heart. Now, the wise man will tell you that I am wrong, but he is old. I am right. You see, there is no music without heart! You can make a thousand songs, but there will be no listeners unless you use your heart!" The boy was pleased with the answer, but something still felt wrong. He said his goodbye and wandered off in search of something more satisfying. The boy wandered a little further before his ears were overwhelmed with the finest singing he had ever heard. He followed the sound of her voice right to her, pausing to listen to her song and waiting patiently until she finished. But the moment she was done, he approached her and asked, "Can you please tell me the most important part of being a musician?" She smiled so big and full at the young boy. "Well, of course I can! You see, the most important part of being a musician is practice! You can't play anything without working for it, so practice is the most important part! I have been taught by the wise man, and the wise man will tell you that I am wrong. But I am not, I am right. You have your answer now." The boy seemed happy with her confidence, and she made so much sense. Content with his new answer, he wanted to return to the mountain before he lost any more time. But as fate would have it, he encountered a man playing a stringed instrument the boy was unfamiliar with. He had never heard such sounds, and the music was utterly captivating. In his normal routine fashion, the boy waited until the performer was done before asking him his question. "Aha! A new student!" "Has everyone been taught by the wise man?" Asked the boy. "Only the good ones! But the answer to your question is obvious. It's the listeners! There is no music if nobody is listening! The wise man will say that I am wrong, but I am right." The boy truly felt he had found his answer. He knew in his heart that there could be no music without the listener, and he raced back to the road for another trip up the mountain. Rising to the peak after a grueling climb, the boy knocked once more on the wise man's door. "You will say this is wrong, but I have found the right answer. The most important part of being a musician is the listener." "You have found the wrong answer," replied the wise man. "But the man playing the instrument I'd never seen knew it! He said you would say it was wrong, he taught me! You won't even teach me anything, at least he's trying!" "I am teaching you. I am teaching you that is not the most important part of being a musician." "Well then it's practice! You can't be a musician unless you practice!" "Well, you can't be a musician if you're a rabbit, but that doesn't make it the most important part." "Then that means it's heart! The most important thing is heart! If you don't play from your heart, you won't get any listeners! If you don't have heart, you won't practice!" "Wrong." Said the wise man. "But those are the only answers I could find!" "Well then, must you keep searching?" "Yes! I want you to teach me! You are the best!" "Well then, why don't you ask me?" "You said I had to go into town!" "You did need to go into town. But now you may ask me." "Wise man, what is the most important part of being a musician if it isn't heart, practice or listeners?" "The musicians that told you these answers are all my students. I have been their teacher for longer than you have known music at all. They have been told to lie to any new student of mine that may cross their path some day." "What?? Why?! That's wrong! Why couldn't you just tell me the truth? What if I died on the way up or down the mountain?" "I did tell you the truth. I told you that you would be my student when you knew the answer, I did not tell you that the other musicians would tell you the truth." "That's it! That's the most important thing! Not everyone will tell you the truth!" The wise man sighed. "No, child." "Well will you PLEASE tell me?! I want to learn!" "What is it that makes a listener? What is it that makes us need practice? What is it that makes us play with heart?" "Music!!" Said the boy. "That's the answer!! Music is the most important part of musicianship!" "Wrong," the wise man replied. "But you are close." "Then what is it??!! Just tell me!!!!" "Well, child, what makes the music?" "The instrument! The instrument is the most important part of being a musician!" The wise man sighed one great, final sigh. "No child. The most important part of musicianship is you." "Huh?? But I'm not a musician yet!" The wise old man smiled. "And so you mean to tell me that you climbed a mountain and descended it with nothing but a question and hope. You went alone and by yourself, found people to question and gathered as much knowledge as you thought you needed, and you did it all in the name of music and becoming a musician. And when you thought you were ready, you returned up the mountain with what you had found." "I don't understand..." "Child," replied the wise man, "everything you have done is what a musician must do many many times. The only difference between a person and a musician is that a musician will keep doing it tomorrow, even if it is difficult." "So if I ask again tomorrow, you will teach me?" "Child," the old man said through a smile, "today is tomorrow. You came here last night and left this morning. You have already made your choice." "So do you mean you will teach me?!" "I am."