Thursday, October 10, 2013

Well Worth Listening To

We make assumptions all the time about what is worth listening to.  Music with certain names attached to it--which names depends on what magazines you read--automatically qualifies.  Perhaps its the name of a performer or composer; perhaps a school or a place--whatever it is, I can almost guarantee that listening through such a filter is not really listening.

"What's in a name?"

Take the names away and what do you have?   It was a child who said out loud that something by Beethoven was boring, thereby causing me to notice two things: a consistent source of irony in some of his works; and that, cowed by the name of the great man. I would not be capable of such candor.

Too much musical training has to do with reverence for names and not enough with paying attention to sound itself.  It is almost as if we are trained to believe that sound, in and of itself, cannot convey meaning.  Shouldn't it be the other way around? 

Getting it to work the other way around is the way I teach: that's why I teach children who are open to this possibility.  Having been trained to pay attention to sound their playing, however "flawed," is well worth listening to.