Paul Simon speaks at New England Conservatory commencement
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Paul Simon speaks at New England Conservatory commencement

Local News

“You have chosen a profession that can provide a lifetime’s journey into the ineffable.”

Paul Simon, shown performing in Central Park in 2021, is the subject of the Alex Gibney documentary “In Restless Dreams,” premiering Sunday on MGM+.

Singer-songwriter Paul Simon was among the speakers to offer advice Sunday to graduates at the New England Conservatory’s 2024 commencement.

Simon, the winner of 16 Grammys and half of the legendary folk duo Simon & Garfunkel, was awarded an honorary degree. 

He began his speech by telling students he was “honored” to be among so many musicians, adding that he skipped his own graduation after seeing himself in a cap and gown.

“Today, I get to vicariously graduate with you,” he said. 

Simon warned his fellow musicians to be proactive in safeguarding their hearing, referencing his own recent hearing loss in his left ear.

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“Protect your hearing, it’s the most important tool in your kit,” he said.

Addressing fellow composers, the singer-songwriter offered advice on the creative process and urged graduates “take from everywhere,” using sounds from all around them and from what came before them. 

The world, he told the graduating class, is in desperate need of new music and trained musicians.

“Music has the power to heal, to inspire, to make people weep or jump up and dance for joy,” Simon said. “You have chosen a profession that can provide a lifetime’s journey into the ineffable. Congratulations on completing this stage of your education — now your real education will begin. Take care of yourselves. You are precious.”

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