Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Respecting the Complexity of Hearing

Playing the piano looks so easy.  Listening to the piano while playing it is anything but easy.

The instrument gives off incredibly complex overtones - so complex that the sound of the piano defies synthesis.  Think about that.  You are a child (remember?) whose hearing is very much more sensitive and detailed than your teacher's.  Hard to imagine?  Well, the acuity of the child ear wears off over time, for a variety of reasons, some of them cultural.

And there is your teacher imposing upon you, the child -- by definition more "with it" -- a version of hearing that is woefully simplistic, if judged according to the only applicable standard, that of your sensitive ear.

So why doesn't pedagogy take this into account?  As a distinguished colleague (Professor of Piano Pedagogy, by the way, which I am not, thank you) answered when I asked her: "It takes too long."