Monday, June 3, 2013

Meaning Goes At Least Two Ways

This morning saw an unforgettable session with a young man who is blind and autistic.  Knowing that his inner life is not something he can communicate, I always felt it my responsibility to give him access to complexity of emotion and intention by teaching him first to tolerate dissonance and then to internalize Bartok's extreme lyricism. (For Children, Volumes I and II.)

He is at the moment dealing with a piece that requires precise coordination of the two hands, something he finds extremely difficult as he plays mostly by ear and because he keeps his hands in rigid positions of immobility and tension.

But he responds to this piece.  Today he had to master the notion that his left hand, not the tune, was the source of the sadness.  He had to grasp the difference between an articulation that gasps and one that actually seems to sob.  He did it.  He came as close to crying as I can imagine, playing a descending inner voice with his left hand thumb on B, then A, then G.  I will never forget it.

Playing like this sets my standard, not recordings of perfection.