Sunday, November 2, 2014

Lack of Empathy

One of the skills I find truly challenging is empathetic listening, which I define as listening as much for the intention of the player as to the result of her effort.  I assume that students who have been listened to in this way don't quit when they hit adolescence (or beyond) because it feels really good to know that someone has been paying attention. 

This approach has been dismissed as music therapy by colleagues who cannot imagine the sense of working this way.

It may not, in fact, be good for the professional advancement of piano teachers.  But there is another reward that I could never have foreseen when I undertook this approach.

It has brought me closer to an empathetic understanding of the great works that I play on the piano, in large part because of the deep personal involvement in sound that such students develop; whether they practice or not is fully beside the point.  Beethoven did not think up his piano sonatas as a result of studying music theory.