Thursday, March 27, 2014

Intention is More Interesting than Perfection

One of my favorite students is someone who never practices--I suspect because the only piano in the house is prominently located in the living room and he is a really private individual.  But his playing is remarkably interesting because his ear is unfailingly responsive to every element of every sound he makes.

This entails making mistakes prompted, in large measure, by confusing or downright unwelcome overtones.

When I drew his attention to the array of bewildering vibrations to which Beethoven invites him to respond I was reminded of a bus ride in the London suburbs late in the 1950's before they had banned the burning of a low-grade coal and when there were periodic killer fogs.  One such fog having rolled in there was no way for the busdriver to see the road and a passenger had to walk alongside the edge of the pavement so as to guide him.

Overtones in the hands of great composers can be killer fogs.