Friday, March 15, 2013

Artistry Among Amateurs

Some would say it is an oxymoron, that there is no artistry among amateurs.  But I have staked a great deal of my teaching career on the assumption that, on the contrary, true artistry is more easily found among amateurs than among the general professional population.

Yesterday I was treated to a wonderful example.  A young man, student of mine for many years, not a practicer, not even a pianist, but an improviser, is working on his sight-reading.   We are using as a text the brilliant compendium of Preludes and Exercises by Muzio Clementi, a source of astonishing insight into the connection between ear and hand.  We had reached the point where we were discussing the dramatic tension that arises when note values confront tone values, so to speak. 

Working on the A flat Prelude he experienced from within himself full awareness of the power of long vs. short, of soft vs. loud, of dissonance vs. consonance, modeling the piece to realize its full potential.  Within its limited nine-bar duration it touches many extremes in the categories just listed.

I am fascinated at his awareness as he worked on the choices he had, his desire to do it better, and his satisfaction with his achievement.  I am even more fascinated that nothing in my training prepared me at his age to be in touch with my own responses.  My reaction to the piece would have been to reject it out of hand.