Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The dilemma facing everyone who makes music at every level is very real and poignant: To what extent to trust one's own ear and to what extent to "take someone else's word for it." Each of us is alone with what we hear. The artist attempts to make what she hears audible to others. Whether or not it comes across is often not clear until after the passage of time--sometimes years. That is one reason why it is so hard to make a living as a performer. It takes time to develop the art and it takes time for the listener to process the levels of its meaning.

Aren't we in it for the long haul? Isn't the point of the good stuff that it remains good? Or do we do it just to pretend that we know what we are doing?

As long as children are under pressure to rattle off Beethoven sonatas before they have the slightest bit of auditory self-confidence--like eating broccoli--the dilemma will intrude upon early training with results exactly the reverse of what a reasonable person would desire: any reasonable kid will quit as soon as possible.

None of this would matter so much except that it influences listening for years and years.