Wednesday, May 7, 2014

What's Wrong with Practicing?

Everyone is in a hurry to achieve the most possible output in the least amount of time.  In terms of music study, this has meant dumbing-down the reading process to a mere set of motor instructions, usually coordinated strictly by counting at most to four.

This may yield a steady superficial reading of a piece, but is it really reading?  and is it really the piece?

Having the privilege of teaching a young man who has been improvising all his life I enjoyed a pretty thorough exploration of this problem in relation to the third movement of the "Moonlight."  The reason I never insisted that he write down his compositions much less show them to me in written form was so as not to impose upon his musical imagination the limitations inevitably associated with bar lines and beats.

Imagine Beethoven's dilemma: How to give clues as to the real fantasy underlying such a piece as the  "Moonlight."  without so antagonizing the musical establishment that they would refuse to print his work?
Now imagine our dilemma: How to recognize that we don't "get it."  (For me the sure sign of that is boredom, i.e., predictability, stasis--indications that some hidden clue has successfully escaped my attention.