Friday, September 19, 2014

Are You Worth Being Listened To?

It is usually with some embarrassment that people tell me, as many do, that they "took piano lessons for a while."  What is the source of their embarrassment?  Impossible to tell, for sure.  But I have the feeling that some, if not most of that emotion comes from their recalled feelings of combined inadequacy and non-comprehension.

Inadequacy is the main lesson taught by the teacher's constant insistence that every note be correct and played on time:  This impossible and meaningless standard will certainly foster feelings of inadequacy on the part of the student, particularly if gifted or intelligent.

Non-comprehension is fostered by the lack of vocabulary in which to frame questions, and there are many questions.  Why do I have to practice such boring music?  Are technical exercises really that important when I hate them so much?  How can Mozart be so famous when I find nothing of interest in this sonata?

In teaching/learning situations like those I evoke above, the one thing the teacher is not doing is listening to you.  If the teacher heard your boredom the teacher would surely address it, enlighten your ear and your mind, teach you about the wonders of the hand and fingers, reveal how much more there is to music than what is printed on the page.

But teachers are not encouraged to listen to what you bring to your playing.  They know how to listen for the finished product and when that is not there they know how to make you feel inadequate.

Everyone's loss.