Friday, November 16, 2012

Do You Really Mean It?

Saying what we mean is not as easy as it sounds, as many things can interfere with the perfect realization of our intentions. The same is certainly true of playing music.

But how are we supposed to know what our intention is, since most of our training is based on conforming to someone else's notion of how a piece should sound?  Do we actually have intentions of our own?  How do we ever find them?

Following the inspired findings of Viktor Zuckerkandl, I base my teaching at all levels on listening to what students actually do, not listening for the deviations of what they do from what I would do, or from the printed page.  In every instance, without exception, whether beginner or advanced player, I find transparency in the errors that students make.  It is very much as Zuckerkandl found: the student will put the next note where she wants it to be, not necessarily where it "belongs."

Sometimes I have to extend my comprehension beyond the realm of theoretical concepts with which I am familiar.  But I have found that when I do so the student learns several important things:

  • That all musical sound is interesting and potentially significant.
  • That the tension between the unconsciously-played mistake and the deliberately-sought right note is essentially and richly dramatic
  • Most important of all: That what she is doing makes sense--an affirmation of inherent musicality.