Saturday, December 4, 2010

Some people accuse me of doing music therapy. Music therapy assumes a norm of hearing and response to music. But I do the opposite in that I encourage each student to listen on their own terms and to develop the sense of mastery that comes with satisfying one's own ear.

Today the young woman who is a master dressmaker had trouble playing her Bartok piece fluidly. "I can do it at home," she said; "why not here?" The answer is analogous to making individual stitches in hand-sewing; she knows well how hard that is. It is much more difficult to recognize as "the same" a composition played on one's home piano and played on my beautiful grand.

I find it incredible that she expresses nuanced touch dealing with consonance and dissonance; that she is moved by the piece to extend it with her own material. I find her observations nothing short of masterful and they teach me a lot about the music and about my own hang-ups about playing the piano.