Thursday, March 25, 2010

You might wonder why I care so much about dumbing down and regimentation. If you live with a young child you learn what intensity is. Nobody smells with greater acuity than a young child: walking in the door they can tell whether there are onions in the soup. The same acuity applies to sight and to hearing.

Methods based on dumbing down and regimentation so infuriated me as a child that I told my mother it was a waste of money to continue lessons with the offending teacher. Not every child has the advantage of being taken seriously. Not every child is aware of an alternative.

The great pianist Busoni said that technical exercises should be doled out as carefully as toxic medicines. Every hand is a unique organ of action and response. They may all have the same number of fingers but there the resemblance definitely stops. I devote a lot of energy to taking each child seriously, which means I assume that each needs to possess his or her own hands to express a musical self waiting to be discovered and developed. Just because pianos share certain attributes does not mean they should be taught as instruments of regimentation.