Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Playing for more than Pleasure

One of my greatest joys is listening to the playing of students who are in it for the deepest possible personal reasons.  Such a student was here today.

The playing, though not fluent because she does not have natural facility at the keyboard, is thoroughly transparent.  I can hear what she is hearing.

I asked her if she ever tells people about her piano lessons.  She does, in fact.  "And then," she said, "they want to hear me play.  No! No!  I don't play for other people; I play for myself."

Yet she does play for the other students and family members in this small community of like-minded empathetic listening that I have built up over the years.  And when she does so she surpasses herself every time.

Too many pianists play only for others, never for themselves.  That kind of playing quickly palls: it is too unattached, too abstract.  It is not felt; it does not matter.  Some artists live long enough to reclaim their innocent involvement in the sensuality of the instrument and to expose it in public.  In this post-recording era such artists are increasingly rare.