Sunday, March 16, 2014

How Come Amateurs Can be More Exciting Than Professionals?

This is an increasingly urgent question as I observe more and more amateurs falling for the trap that confuses sounding polished with being impassioned.  As long as the going professional standard is to sound polished no matter what, amateurs will find it harder and harder to give their unconscious musical selves permission to show much less flourish.

The trend has been growing steadily more pronounced.  It was already evident when I began coaching amateur chamber musicians in 1975.  It has most definitely become more problematic.

The essential question in chamber music always has to be "Why does it take three (or however many) people to play this piece?"  As long as three people are trying to sound as though they represent some fictional single point of view the question has no meaning, nor does the music.

In the case of solo playing it is a matter of the amateur having the courage to address the music inward rather than to what Emily Dickinson called "an admiring bog."  Being let in on the innermost musical instincts of anyone is for me the highest possible privilege, no matter how skilled or unskilled the player.