Friday, January 8, 2010

Fear is clearly a factor in the musical lives of too many people, mostly fear of making mistakes. If the mind has a logical involvement with tone as it clearly does with color, with numbers, and with many other aspects of life experience, then it would seem logical that musical people will no more play "wrong" notes than they will make missteps on a cliff-side path.

The trouble is that we learn notated music as the equivalent of a Fred Astaire dance step floor pattern. It isn't. Period. It represents, as Karl Ulrich Schnabel repeatedly pointed out, an ideal reading of a compositional proposition within which there is considerable leeway. It's just that we have been so frightened of error that we can't enjoy the range of possibilities that any line of Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin or Hindemith offers for our participation.

It took a long time to make the plunge, but now that I have ditched the "right note/ wrong note" school of piano teaching I find that almost all my students want to make music of their own. Coming naturally, it seems to affirm a source of individual expression that I would not otherwise know how to achieve. Knowing I listen attentively to their music makes them play all other music with deeper concentration.