Saturday, July 25, 2009

"No wonder we all hated playing these pieces."

I am fascinated by the music I hated as a child--and there was a lot of it! I now know that my dislike implied questions--real, even urgent questions. Why couldn't I articulate them?

In order to do so I would have had to trust myself as a listener. I would have had to say, "I don't like that sound" or "I am bored by Alberti basses."

Part of the dilemma comes from having to play music from distant cultures and eras. Most children lack a good working model on which to base confident personal taste. (Recordings, I am sorry to say, won't do as models for children as they are replicable, therefore not sufficiently of the moment--but that's another long story.)

I noticed already as a young teacher that children did not have comparable difficulty relating to 20th-century music, as these are the sounds that surround them -- in the movies, on TV. Many piano teachers seem to be unaware that the composers writing and arranging music for the media were for the most part trained as classical musicians. Some of them turned out masterful teaching material for young learners: Stan Applebaum, the late Fred Werle, Elie Siegmeister.