Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Listening in Advance

Much fuss is made about the necessity of hearing in advance of playing.  I would like to make an argument for that not always being such a good idea. 

A professionally trained musician is under a lot of pressure: to play the right notes, play them on time, and cause as little trouble as possible so that the rehearsal can proceed according to schedule and we can get on with it. 

But every once in a while even the best-trained professional is brought up short by notes she has played a million times within just the past month but which present in such unlikely context that they cannot simply be played and be done with it.

I am thinking of one well-known professional flutist whose specialty is new music.  She told me once that, no matter what else was on the program, a trio by Haydn always took the most rehearsing.  And this from a member of a prominent ensemble who, when they have to premiere a work, analyze it in terms of how many rehearsal hours it will take to get it together.

People who always only listen in advance risk making up their minds before giving music a chance to be what it is.