Sunday, October 14, 2012

Listening: "One of the most difficult skills"

Recent posts have been about listening.  In one I described the reactions of a seventeen-year-old upon first reading the Beethoven G minor Sonata.  That very day I received this message from her:

"I took piano lessons from Nancy for twelve years, and over the years I learned much more than how to look at little dots on a piece of paper and press a corresponding lever. Nancy encouraged and drew out from me emotional involvement and conscious thought about music, both in general and specific to certain pieces. Essentially, she taught me how to listen, one of the most difficult skills there is both to teach and to learn."

Recently I asked whether she had any friends who shared her love of Beethoven, Haydn, and Mozart.  Not surprisingly, the answer was no, despite the fact that many of them had studied piano.  Her explanation: They had had that music forced upon them.  She had come upon it out of deep involvement with contemporary music and with improvisation.  This girl, at nine, had told me: "I don't practice; I don't have time."   Clearly her relationship to sound was developing at a very deep level.