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.