Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Is Correctness a Long or Short-Term Goal?

I have initiated an on-line discussion on whether it is a good or a bad idea to encourage students to sound like everyone else / someone else.  The responses have been illuminating, as people tell of their experiences with students with special needs, and so on.

One responder rightly likens teaching piano to parenting.  But then he goes on to say that it is important to start with getting it right after which the student will grow into having his or her own voice.

Really?  Doesn't the beginner have a point of view from the beginning:  a point of view not verbalized but evident in the quality of their listening and their response?  It is up to the teacher to observe what that point of view consists of and to build on it, since it is the student's own.

As a well-behaved young student I dutifully made a show of doing what I was told, although since I knew I didn't "get" it, I never practiced.  How could music be so puzzling?  How could I feel so incompetent even while being praised? How could the teacher miss the signs of this disconnect?

If I have survived to become a serious pianist it is because I quit piano more than once as a youngster.

Perhaps we ought to look more closely at the potentially positive motives behind young students' quitting piano lessons.