Friday, November 14, 2014

The Child Meets the Adult on Equal Terms

Arts educators constantly bemoan the well-established fact that, usually by age 7 at the latest, children have already lost their innate receptivity to the primary experience of sound, color, rhythm, etc.

It gets trained out of us, as one eminent music theorist put it to me.

Not all of us, I would reply.  Some timeless artists have said it in writing: The older they get, the more artistically mature, the closer they feel to the child they once were, in other words, to their artistic beginnings.

All of my work integrates the sensations I had as a young child with my continuing fascination with the elements of music.  In teaching children I focus on their developing confidence in their own perception of those elements, not on my "more correct" perception.  Often I find that their perception of sounds in, say, Beethoven, actually instructs me.  My problem is that I know too much, that I was led to believe that what I dutifully learned in music training corresponded to the thinking of the masters.

Not so.   The children come closer than I ever will, though I do continue to work at it.