Saw Dustin Hoffman's directorial debut last night, "Quartet". Good film, terrific performances, especially from Pauline Collins (and a real kick to see Andrew Sachs again - "Manuel!!" "I'm so sorry; he's from Barcelona"). But what left me so quiet in the car coming home was something that's been stirring in me for a few days, now - the whole notion of musical performance. This rumination was initially brought on thanks to my daughter, whom I adore and who loves music (as well as painting and films). She is develomentally disabled, an adult with autism. She was in a sheltered workshop for a number of years but had increasing acting out episodes and we realized she needed a change. The day program she attends now is one in which we were strongly discouraged from placing her, because most of the participants are "lower functioning". This is disability-speak for more severely impaired, and the often unspoken assumption is that those with less severe cognitive impairments should be placed in programs that, if not actually work, at least simulate work. My wife and I fell into this thinking and so when our daughter - Lauraine - aged out of school, we sought to place her in a workshop rather than a day program, to our eventual regret. As someone who works with Lauraine (and understands her almost as well as my wife and I do) put it to me when I approached her about getting her day program changed, if she had been a typically-developed person, she would not have gone into accounting or law or any other nine-to-five line of work. She most likely would have sought to spend her days out in Union Square Park trying to sell her paintings. So, we made the change. And she has been inordinately happy. Which brings me to "Quartet", a film in which aging musicians and opera singers seek to stay active performing in an annual gala to benefit the home for the aged in which they live. This past Thursday, Lauraine was part of a group performance at Pace University here in New York, part of the Weill Institute at Carnegie Hall (or, as Lauraine's program called it, The Carnegie Project). These were people in the agency's day programs throughout the city who worked with volunteer musicians from the Weill Institute to choose, rehearse, and in some cases compose, songs to perform, which they did at Pace on Valentine's Day. Some of the performers were surprisingly good, but all of them were enthusiastic. And the musicians who worked with them made it all about the participants, who had a smashing good time. Which brings me back to Hoffman's film. Because in the end, the important thing about playing for others is the joy of playing. Or singing. One does not have to be a world class musician. It is the very act of sharing the music that makes the performance experience. In playing for others, the musician joins with his audience to share something that may not even be describable but is a profound aspect of human interaction.