Monday, August 31, 2009

The difficult words in my letter to the Times are: "in an environment of mutual awareness." That environment in music study is created by open-minded listening. This is not the kind of judgmental listening we know from years of being listened to critically, that is, of being constantly compared to someone else.

I mean the listening one brings to a concert of new music by unknown composers. Isn't every student of music potentially a source of the new, whether new music or fresh synthesis of old material?

Having heard too many cliche performances of Beethoven sonatas I do not how to find in them the breathtaking sounds that my student finds. He has been improvising on the piano since the age of seven. He knows the piano in ways I do not.

Our hackneyed ears are making us immune from contact with atypical players and also from the potentially mysterious elements of familiar music.