Thursday, January 2, 2014

Nurturing the Private Ear

It has often occurred to me that, with the invention of the piano, composers began writing music that would literally instruct us as to the nature of our hearing.

Increasingly, as I work from the sounds that are most real to the student's inner ear, I believe this to be true.

I behold it happen:  the most "ordinary" sounds become complicated by virtue of some unexpected trick -- a sustained pitch, an accidental, a doubling -- and the sight-reader is plunged into a state of curiosity.  Could Beethoven really have meant for me to play that?

Why does this require a teacher?  Because most students have been listened to by teachers who feel it their duty to find fault.  In so doing they undermine the student's confidence in the innate sense of their own ear.  It requires an experienced ear to identify the sense of the errors and build the student's trust in the ear as a source of activity, not as a passive organ.