Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Listening Fast and Slow

OK, it's a parody of the best-seller on thinking.  But in music it is a real problem.  The emphasis is on fast thinking, whereas listening requires the ability to adjust speed, as Beethoven well knew and made explicit in many of his works.

But I will be addressing the topic from a variety of points of view.  First, the problem of parental listening.  With the piano usually in a public space (living room, in most households) it is extremely difficult for a child to be aware of anything but a parental ear listening, an ear which almost certainly has been conditioned by exposure to polished performances, most of them on recordings.

I am involved in an in-depth exploration of sonata reading with a young adult whose ear works with extraordinary speed and accuracy but whose facility at the instrument is much slower.  I suggested he move the family piano (played by no other family member) into his room.  "No space," says he.  Then move something out.

He will never be comfortable exploring the connection between his own ear and the music on the page as long as the hearing surrounding him is moving at an unrealistic pace in relation to his auditory thought process.