Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Today's topic is boredom. I know it well, having suffered from it for years and years. Yesterday I saw the makings of it in a young student and the opposite of it in a slightly older student.

The makings of boredom: When tone is crammed into rigid rhythmic units it loses its traction. It has no inherent reason for moving, whether up or down, or for repeating, or for not moving. Tension cannot exist when metronomic rhythm determines the next event. One young student needs desperately to be relieved of every sensation of tension. He is in a hurry to learn "how it goes" so that he can repeat it, fooling himself and others into believing that the music has been learned.

The slightly older student feels the imprint of tone in specific rhythmic contexts so intently that variation is almost painful to her. Incredible to me is the intensity of this phenomenon. Dealing with it requires substantive work.

As a young learner I more resembled the first case. Ultimately I distorted every detail of a composition: articulation, note values, and so on; in my rush to pretend I knew what I was doing I could only play fast and faster. Needless to say, I could not sustain interest in a composition until someone caught me at this little game and showed me what musical traction is.