Thursday, October 11, 2012

As true today as two years ago

Looking over prior posts I noted this one from 2010 that somehow was never published.  As it stills rings true and is no less timely, here it is.

One of my students, a woman in her early 20's, is an expert dressmaker. I asked her what is the hardest thing about hand sewing. She responded without hesitation, "Getting even stitches."

I made the analogy between those individual stitches, each one subject to so many variants, and the individual sounds in the Bartok piece she is learning.

She was surprised that, though she can fluently play the piece at home, when she comes here it stalls from time to time. But the variant produced by the difference between her instrument and mine is huge. It caused me incredible angst as a student--even for an accomplished artist managing strange instruments is a huge issue, one that only pianists face.

The intimacy of her response to every sound was incredibly beautiful. Satisfying on every level. Would any conventional teacher have given her the time of day? Probably not.

What I do with students is often referred to as "music therapy" but it is not. I merely strive to legitimatize the ear of the student so that the standard is of the highest possible level of beauty. Execution? Anytime the student wants to spend hours a day practicing to achieve dexterity I happily show them how. In the meantime, realistically, I find that the other option works wonders.