Tuesday, April 29, 2014

What Independent Thinking / Acting Looks Like

The non-profit sector exists so that institutionalized pursuits are not the only alternative one faces as an artist / thinker / teacher.  The things I study -- the meaning underlying musical terms and the elements of music notation, and the process whereby an individual derives real satisfaction from playing music at whatever level of competence -- have no place in an educational system in which competition calls the shots and determines who wins.

If competition is all there is to it, there is no reason to notice that the "Moonlight" Sonata by Beethoven is hopelessly boring as conventionally delivered.  Just play it like everyone else only slower (first movement) or faster (last movement) and you win.  If competition is all there is to it there is no reason to care that you find yourself stuck or bored, as happens more often than we are allowed to notice.

One of my brilliant young students did me a huge favor by pronouncing one day that a German Dance by Beethoven was, in her words, "boring."  Aha!  She's right!  I suddenly understood the whole phenomenon of classical composers mocking boring music so as to show that they can make you feel the difference when you play their works.  Can you tell when the music is boring for purposes of irony?  Or have you just bought into boredom as part of the act?

The above link will take you to a website where you can purchase What Might It Mean? An Uncommon Glossary of Musical Terms and Concepts for the Stuck, Bored, and Curious, which I wrote in 1999 and which I use myself as a guide when studying new/old works.