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the 2 halves of music (Read 3378 times)

Offline ludwig

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the 2 halves of music
« on: May 06, 2002, 08:42:54 AM »

I always believed that to be a good performer you need to have 2 elements. The first being the practice you do, the time and effort you put into it, and the second being the natural music sense that is in you, given and determined for you at birth. Therefor the technical work you work up and the natural musical expression in yourself from starters should produce a great performer.

My puzzler is that some students have a great liking of music, they practice and practice, more than I do in fact, and they really put some good effort into it. Unfortunately no matter how much hard work they put into playing, they don't have that natural musical sense. Their musical expression cannot improve much further. It might be a harsh yet truthful thing, but is there any way of going around that? I have much doubts, and if this cannot be worked out, should they focus their enthusiam and great work into something else?

comments? appreciated.
"Classical music snobs are some of the snobbiest snobs of all. Often their snobbery masquerades as helpfulnes... unaware that they are making you feel small in order to make themselves feel big..."ÜÜÜ

Offline Mandy

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Re: the 2 halves of music
«Reply #1 on: May 06, 2002, 06:26:42 PM »
I know what you mean.  I think part of the problem is that many of our piano lessons are structured so that the teacher really decides what is happening musically, rather than pushing the student to listenn, question,and figure it out on their own.  

I strongly believe that we don't start teaching the history and theory side soon enough-so when it comes time to learn a bach piece, the kids have no idea what style of playing they need to use in order to get the right sound and musical accurateness.  

I know in my own lessons, I was never taught anything about the different styles, and sounds that you can get.  I basically completely relied on my teacher-who decided everything from the dynamics to the rubato.  When I got to university, my prof started questioning me and basically forced me to decide the musicality of my pieces.  I had never been taught "tone" before I got to university.  

Regardless of how much they practice, if the students are not challenged to find out what their pieces are about, they will really only develop technically-once they leave their lessons and start learning on their own, that's when they will really get into trouble.  Some kids aren't naturally musical, but many are-they just aren't taught to use the skills they have to bring that out.

Also, I don't think that people really learn to listen properly-students need to be encouraged to listen and comment about their own playing-using a tape recorder on their own playing does wonders.  I do this all the time.  There is no doubt that this personal development takes time-I didn't "get it" until my 3rd year of university-but boy do things start moving once you do.  

So, I guess encouraging the student to listen deeply, and to make their own decisions in the development of their pieces, will teach them to find their musicality.  
Hope this all makes sense!
Mandy

Offline ludwig

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Re: the 2 halves of music
«Reply #2 on: May 07, 2002, 03:59:33 PM »



I think I phrased my thoughts a little too confusing, sorry, what I meant was that for a person to become a great performer, he or she needs two sides of contributions, one of which is their effort and time spent doing practices, the other is the natural musical expression and sense they have given to them as a talent of some sort when they were born. I questioned one of my professors today about the 2nd element, and sadly as I suspected, he said that not anyone could be a performer, you need hard work as well as a natural talent for music, therefor I think some of my students do not have that talent. Any thoughts on how to tell them about his? Or where to direct their abilities to? perhaps another field in music?
"Classical music snobs are some of the snobbiest snobs of all. Often their snobbery masquerades as helpfulnes... unaware that they are making you feel small in order to make themselves feel big..."ÜÜÜ

Offline Mandy

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Re: the 2 halves of music
«Reply #3 on: May 07, 2002, 11:42:04 PM »
Ok-let me restart! I both agree and disagree with your prof.  It's true.....unfortunately not everyone can be a performer-whether or not they don't have the talent, or it's not realistic for the life they want.  Not many people posses the drive to go for that career-I still think that not enough people are taught in a way that allows this talent to come out.  But, if they are set on performing, then they should be encouraged to do so.

There are tons of other jobs that music students can do-recording arts, arts management, teaching, piano bars, church jobs, music ed, choral conducting....There are some fine musicians out there who are very successful and are not playing the piano.  I think it's important if you have a student who is showing an interest in performing, but doesn't quite have what it takes, to tell them the reality of the situation, but also to help them into maybe some other performance opportunities(not a professional career) that may be just as fulfilling to them.  Also, if they seem persistent, then they should be made completely aware of the lifestyle they would have, so they realize the type of work involved...i.e, you don't just get to practice 2-3 hours a day when you feel ike it.

If they don't seem to show any interest, then it's fair to say that by way of common sense, it's best not to say anything, because they probably already realize they are not meant to be performers.

This is a tough call-especially if you have some students who are looking at going to university for a performance degree(i'm not sure if you do or not), but I think it's better in the long run they know so they can explore other opportunities.

Offline ludwig

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Re: the 2 halves of music
«Reply #4 on: May 08, 2002, 03:59:04 PM »
Yeah, thanks for the comments, I agree also that there are several other music related professions they could take up,actually I'm pretty interested in becoming a conductor, it is just that they do a lot of practice and seems very involved in playing, and they absolutely love performing but doesn't have that essential musical sense. I am afraid to let them down, they seem pretty interested in performing forever! Oh well, it is a tough one, perhaps explaining the situation is the way to go.
"Classical music snobs are some of the snobbiest snobs of all. Often their snobbery masquerades as helpfulnes... unaware that they are making you feel small in order to make themselves feel big..."ÜÜÜ

Offline rmc7777

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Re: the 2 halves of music
«Reply #5 on: May 09, 2002, 05:23:29 PM »
Mandy and Ludwig,

This is a fascinating conversation.  I thought I would add just one thing.  I've been playing piano for a long time and have had several (very good) instructors.  My current teacher is one of the piano performance faculty members at the local university.  He strongly emphasizes that we listen, and listen intently, to the sounds of the music that we create.  This includes intrinsic sounds like tone, harmonics, voicing of chords, consonance and dissonance, volume, and so forth, as well as extrinsic sounds like the dampers touching the strings, fingernails rapping the keys, squeaking benches and pedals, etc.  (Remember, the piano is a mechanical instrument).  He has made me considerably more aware of piano and musical sounds, which has greatly improved my playing.  I think this is one thing that should be emphasized at an early age and reinforced often.  

Offline Dzana

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Re: the 2 halves of music
«Reply #6 on: July 07, 2002, 08:25:58 AM »
Hello All,

I know that it has been awhile since the last post on this thread, but I also felt that it was an interesting conversation - so I had to add my 2 cents.

At one point, I had a piano teacher that sat down and told me that I was not a performer.  I was nearly out of high school, had studied the piano for over 10 years, and lived and breathed piano music.  This conversation was the push that I needed to prove her wrong.  I think that if you have a student that doesn't seem to be performing well, the best approach is to focus on changing your approach to working with the student.  I absolutely agree that it is good to have a "heart to heart" with the student.  But, don't rule them out.  They may just not understand phrasing or adding "color" into music because they have never listened to it.

I was classically trained to play the piano from age 7.  I was able to play advanced pieces well... I played the dynamics where it said, I played at the speed the piece was supposed to be played.  However, I don't feel that I really started "expressing" the music until I was 18-19 years old.  At that point, I changed teachers because I went to college and was introduced to colorful playing.  I played on a concert grand piano for the first time... and my music has never been the same.

In short - don't rule out these students!  Just open them up to new horizons and you may be surprised.   ;)

Offline ted

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Re: the 2 halves of music
«Reply #7 on: July 10, 2002, 06:19:17 AM »

What about the creative side of playing ? What about playing as a personal yoga ? Nobody has mentioned that. I have never had the slightest desire either to perform or be in the music business. I don't know any professional musicians and have hardly performed at all. Yet I play a lot, improvise obsessively, have written a large body of piano music over the years, and am thoroughly happy with my musical life.

I owe this to a teacher who somehow or other recognised me for the oddball I was and did not attempt to force me along well worn paths.
"We're all bums when the wagon comes." - Waller

Offline ludwig

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Re: the 2 halves of music
«Reply #8 on: July 10, 2002, 03:02:09 PM »


Yeah. I agree that there are so MANY aspects of music for all different sorts of people, and as people grow older, what they want to do with music in their lives change. They say that music is a virtue:something desirable according to human beings, that is not to say that all enjoys their life associated with music must play or compose or write about music. However, I meant the thread in the professional performance aspect of being a musician. I've just met some people who are performers who does not know how to improve their playing because they feel they have reached their maxmium potential wether technically or stylistically. Just wonder what you all think about that. As for music in general, I don't see why people cannot do something meaningful with it, even if they aren't born perfomers.
"Classical music snobs are some of the snobbiest snobs of all. Often their snobbery masquerades as helpfulnes... unaware that they are making you feel small in order to make themselves feel big..."ÜÜÜ