Tuesday, March 25, 2014

More About How Competition Dulls the Mind

Competition in music performance fosters a kind of listening that can best be described as having already been heard, otherwise on what basis could one judge one performer to be better than another?

An incident that revealed this dynamic was a piano performance workshop I led at Mannes Prep several years ago.  A bunch of kids aged 6 to about 9 took turns playing their recital pieces.  As the younger ones played most of the older ones were unable to conceal their utter lack of interest.  As I tried to get them to talk about their reactions, one of them pointed out that all she could hear was that when she had played the same piece "at that age" she had played it much better.

Later, when some of the older children played completely unfamiliar repertoire, these bored kids perked up their ears and their faces, truly enjoyed listening, and were glad to talk about the music.