Friday, December 10, 2010

As if on schedule, a beautiful instance of singularity occurred at my piano yesterday afternoon. A young girl learning to read music with comprehension--that is with punctuation (articulation) and dynamics (tone of voice) inherent in the music rather than pasted onto neutral notes--played through a song in Bartok's For Children, Vol. I. To my surprise she preferred the "eerie," "peculiar," harmonization (her words) to the more conventional one.

Her reactions, her access to descriptive vocabulary, and her delight in the sense of connection to the piece--all of this represents tremendous progress toward experiencing mastery.

Too much music pedagogy has as its goal making the young learner feel the opposite.

I wonder how much that is based on the teacher's own removal from a directly passionate experience of music, which might lead to a belief that the only way to hold a child's attention is to bind them in slavish obedience to some incomprehensible standard.