"There is something in the ‘inner self’ that takes over. I guess this is a process of finding oneself. For me, music education has been the process of finding the 'inner self' in students. I was not asked."

This book by music educator Dr. George E. Allen began in part as his doctoral dissertation, when someone suggested his diverse experiences might make a story of general interest. The title phrase, repeated often, signifies that no one consulted Allen about how to live or made it easy for him; he had to cut his own path. Driven by an early glimmer of talent that led to a specially targeted musical education, he taught, over fifty years or more, in schools in his home city of Philadelphia. An early drive to play basketball may have influenced his sense of rhythm and timing. He had exposure to some of the great musicians of the day from jazz to classical, particularly in the African American community, although he states that, "I could teach music no matter what the ethnic or musical background was." Portions of the book are devoted to interviews with musicians who came up in the pre-Civil Rights era, with frank and poignant descriptions of segregation that prevented blacks from garnering the fame they deserved because they had no access to certain clubs and hotels. The book also contains Dr. Allen's personal music theories, various programs that he directed, family recollections, and memories of particular students and classes he taught.

Though sometimes distracting with so many different elements thrown together, the book stands alone as a record of a self-made person who followed his dream even though "I was not asked." Readable and richly detailed, it hones in on the Philadelphia music scene in particular, offering a unique personal view of African American culture in that city. Allen's book can be read as a memoir, a history, and a rich musical journey.

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