Friday, January 17, 2014

Whoa, Bessy!

I recall when I was a student (not undergraduate) how fellow pianists would complain that their teachers obsessed over Beethoven on a note-by-note basis.  This is exactly what I find myself doing with my young computer animator student, who is just now really getting down to the business of seriously reading music -- i.e., reading it in terms not of mechanical physical responses, but in relation to his instinctual auditory life, which is both rich and precise in its way.

Those last three words provide the key to this kind of reading.  For we are all idiosyncratically involved in what we perceive, no one more so than Beethoven in response to the sound of the piano.
This is what teachers fail to point out, or to bring out in their students.  Students are, therefore, understandably and justifiably confused about whose ear they are trying to satisfy.

My approach is to slow my own hearing down to the point where I perceive the interstices between my ear, the student's ear, and what I presume (from the printed score) to have been Beethoven's ear.

This is utterly and endlessly fascinating to the two living parties to this transaction.