Saturday, November 15, 2014

Amateurs, Children, and Superficiality

I just spent a peculiar several weeks, peculiar because vacillating between the fury of being without my customary email server (don't ask) and the bliss of being therefore undistracted from clear thinking.

It is not easy to reconcile the forces behind one's own life with those of the culture in which that life has been lived.   One question emerges as central to my life and work: Why have I devoted so much time and energy to the two least-valued populations in the music world: amateurs and children?

It is my own childhood experience of specific sounds that has kept me on track musically and that continues to inspire all of my playing and my teaching.  Because I refuse to believe that I was that exceptional I have taught children of all levels of "talent" as though they were myself, assuming that that level of intensity is accessible to all.  I was quite right about that.  That has to be the reason my young students do not quit taking piano lessons.

What is an amateur if not an adult who has opted to get back in touch with those elementally powerful sensations?  And that is how I have dealt with amateurs.  I was quite right about that one, too.  By not encouraging amateurs simply to imitate professional players I have enabled them to get into the substance of Beethoven, Bartok, Mozart, et al.  Despite limited practice time they experience deep affinity with the music they play -   not quantity but quality.

Nothing superficial about it.