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Teaching students to listen (Read 15875 times)

Offline awesom_o

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Re: Teaching students to listen
«Reply #50 on: September 20, 2013, 05:12:00 PM »
I think it is your own psychological conditioning that is causing you to think Umi's performance of the Beethoven is 'her teachers' and not 'her own'.

To my ears, it sounded slightly stale in the sense of being over-rehearsed... but this is the way of the professional classical world, which seems to favour consistency over musical spontaneity. The general idea is that 'over-rehearsed' sounds better than 'under-rehearsed'..... an artistic idea I do not find I usually agree with. But that's just me, it seems.

It is impossible to sit down at a piano and give a performance that is not your own. Even if you try consciously to imitate another person's performance, what ends up coming out of the piano will be your own performance.

This leads us to the philosophical question of what is an artistic performance?

I would argue that in the case of classical piano, it is primarily a physical reenactment of a particular person's intellectual ideas about movement. 

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

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Re: Teaching students to listen
«Reply #51 on: September 21, 2013, 02:57:27 AM »
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No amount of how-to information is going to work if you have the wrong mindset, the wrong guiding philosophies. Avoid losers like the plague, and gather with and learn from winners only.

Offline swagmaster420x

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Re: Teaching students to listen
«Reply #52 on: September 21, 2013, 03:11:12 AM »
 :o shes so good


compare with



just for fun :P

Offline keypeg

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Re: Teaching students to listen
«Reply #53 on: September 21, 2013, 11:35:26 AM »
(quote of Keypeg) In any case, the thread here is called "teaching students to listen", and the largest part of the thread is centered on not teaching students how to be judgmental.
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I wonder if that can be done, though. The only way to do it as I see it is forced exposure through analysis of the good stuff in this or that playing style, as I said earlier.

A "finger-oriented" teacher/student (very often an intellectual approach to music) will listen for different things than a "whole-body" teacher/student (very often an intuitive, emotional approach to music), and I think that during an audition (s)he may think: "I cannot possible work with ...
I should define what side I was addressing with the comment you quoted, because I was grabbing a different angle.

There is a problem with the opening post: it's a mishmash. The final question, and the title, is about "teaching students to listen".  The rest of the OP is not about teaching students to listen.  We have a students being asked to judge a recording of a student who apparently has imperfections, but potential.  If this hypothetical young Heifetz has these defects, then they are able to listen.  It seems as if the OP is talking about prejudgment based on big names (which might be taught by teachers?).  But the QUESTION is "How to teach students to listen."

The only way I saw of getting at an answer was to throw out the idea of jury or audition (students don't run juries or auditions anyway) and just consider how to teach students to listen.  I.e., answer the question that is being asked.

For that I went to the beginning.  To learn to listen, you have to be taught to listen for things, and this starts with your own playing.  I've enumerated some of the things already.  You then use those things to bring out the music, and you listen for those things in music that sounds good to you.  You also learn to understand music which you could call theory, history, or whatever, and that also teaches you what to listen for (and aiming for).  That is how I think listening is taught.

Is it taught that way?  Or are students taught to emulate this or that performer because he is "great"?  If so, then isn't the prejudice describe something that is being taught?  Otoh, if you are teaching listening as above, then you are listening for things even when listening to "great performers" --- what is it that this performer is doing to make it sound great?

I don't know if this makes more sense.


Offline dima_ogorodnikov

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Re: Teaching students to listen
«Reply #54 on: September 22, 2013, 05:30:18 AM »
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No amount of how-to information is going to work if you have the wrong mindset, the wrong guiding philosophies. Avoid losers like the plague, and gather with and learn from winners only.

Offline keypeg

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Re: Teaching students to listen
«Reply #55 on: September 23, 2013, 01:39:38 AM »
Well, I came from a totally different angle.  Yes, politics are everywhere.  I'd just hope that the student at one of those institutions will nod his head, make the right noises, but keep a firm hold of his own ears.

Well, just maybe if that student had a good teacher or two at the onset, who taught him to hear in the ways I described, he would have those good ears. :)

Offline awesom_o

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Re: Teaching students to listen
«Reply #56 on: September 23, 2013, 05:21:57 PM »
:o shes so good


compare with



just for fun :P

I thought her performance was extremely good.

The biggest difference is just that I have much bigger hands so I can get away with using almost zero pedal, which I think is stylistically preferable for this piece and allows the electricity in the sound to really come through.

It's amazing, though, to be playing that well at age 12. Her technique, musical decision-making, and overall stage presence are simply incredible!

Offline keypeg

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Re: Teaching students to listen
«Reply #57 on: September 23, 2013, 08:17:48 PM »
I guess that this thread isn't actually about teaching students how to listen.  Is it even about teaching students?

Offline swagmaster420x

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Re: Teaching students to listen
«Reply #58 on: September 24, 2013, 05:11:39 AM »
I think plenty of people on this very forum could play Gnomenreigen as well or better than Umi played it at 9.

I don't think very many people on this forum at all can play Beethoven as well as she can now!:



holycrap how does she have so much musical maturity/sophistication when shes 8???? Not to mention the passages she manages to execute with chubby, petite 8 year old hands. what
i wouldnt call her performance sloppy (though i don't know what the piece sounds like when it's played perfectly in the first place) - her touch on the fast notes is still brilliant, and perhaps above all she doesn't look like she's struggling - she creates the appearance that she's playing something easy, and it's clear she has control of the music AND SHSES 8!!!!1????

im not sure many people from this forum could give such an exciting performance, despite being 2x, 3x, 3+x times her age .. it's just astounding how good she is. imagine when she's actually an adult... lol  !!!!!

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

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Re: Teaching students to listen
«Reply #59 on: September 24, 2013, 05:29:39 AM »
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No amount of how-to information is going to work if you have the wrong mindset, the wrong guiding philosophies. Avoid losers like the plague, and gather with and learn from winners only.

Offline swagmaster420x

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Re: Teaching students to listen
«Reply #60 on: September 24, 2013, 05:43:28 AM »
Umi has 3 or 4 versions of the piece on YouTube. Your one is not the "sloppy" version. The one awesom_o and I are talking about is here:


The one you posted was already more polished and faster, that's why I DELIBERATELY REJECTED it in the "talent" thread, because in that thread, it could have been explained as the result of "hard work". What my clip shows is the SINCERE work of an 8-year old RAW TALENT, without having been "touched" or "spoiled" by the teacher's adult approach. For me that is far more impressive as a child's personal feat than what we see in your clip. :)
P.S.: In light of this thread, we should be able to recognize that kind of qualities, even if the performance is "sloppy", not "up to standards".
wow, thanks for showing me the video you were talking about. it really is beautiful for a reason I can't completely explain - the overall feeling i get from umi's first rendition is "WONDER". she looks so... not exactly happy, but something close... like she's glowing or shining with the music. i hope she doesnt lose it with her childhood. that video made me smile.

(though i admit part of the effect might have been due to the lighting and my preconceived notions... lol)

and i agree, you can't teach someone to listen.. it has to come from within that person's self, and such an early and deep manifestation of musical understanding, connection, (i don't really know the word for it) in umi has to be a raw talent.

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

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Re: Teaching students to listen
«Reply #61 on: September 24, 2013, 05:49:05 AM »
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No amount of how-to information is going to work if you have the wrong mindset, the wrong guiding philosophies. Avoid losers like the plague, and gather with and learn from winners only.

Offline awesom_o

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Re: Teaching students to listen
«Reply #62 on: September 24, 2013, 12:59:05 PM »
I'm still not convinced. How is her sloppier childhood playing more musical than the polished, more professional-sounding playing she is doing now?


You speak as though she just picked up the score to Gnomenreigen one afternoon at age 9 and her talent simply did the rest!

I'm saying she definitely put some hard work into that performance! To my ears, her later performances suggest that her technique has developed to such an extent that she can learn the pieces faster, and play them cleaner, than she could before! This improvement should allow her artistic ideas to come through easier, and better than before!

This is why I simply cannot stomach the idea that she was super talented as a child and has since come downhill.

Additionally.... I believe people cannot be 'taught'. They can only learn.

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

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Re: Teaching students to listen
«Reply #63 on: September 24, 2013, 07:45:49 PM »
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No amount of how-to information is going to work if you have the wrong mindset, the wrong guiding philosophies. Avoid losers like the plague, and gather with and learn from winners only.

Offline awesom_o

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Re: Teaching students to listen
«Reply #64 on: September 24, 2013, 11:49:42 PM »
Chopin would have made a model pianist out of Kalkbrenner! ;)

Kalkbrenner would have made a horrendous pianist out of Chopin!

I know what you're talking about, Dima. I hope you don't mind when I go a little bit overboard in playing Devil's Advocate ;)

The thing is, those 'qualities' which you speak of.... do not belong on the stage anymore.

Nobody cares about 'qualities'. They care about 'quality'.... as if they knew what that really meant.

What's a poor 12-year-old girl to do?

It looks to me as though she is a bit more professionally jaded when she plays now. She just doesn't seem to care about the music itself as much...... she is too busy caring 110% about the 'quality' of her performance...... the other 'qualities' which she could better channel at a younger age have been cast aside in favour of cold-blooded, modern-sounding professionalism.


Is this what you are talking about? I think this is what you're talking about.

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

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Re: Teaching students to listen
«Reply #65 on: September 25, 2013, 03:04:32 AM »
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No amount of how-to information is going to work if you have the wrong mindset, the wrong guiding philosophies. Avoid losers like the plague, and gather with and learn from winners only.

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

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Re: Teaching students to listen
«Reply #66 on: September 25, 2013, 06:12:17 AM »
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No amount of how-to information is going to work if you have the wrong mindset, the wrong guiding philosophies. Avoid losers like the plague, and gather with and learn from winners only.

Offline keypeg

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Re: Teaching students to listen
«Reply #67 on: September 25, 2013, 03:48:35 PM »
In this respect, it is also important to point out the teacher's religion about the score being sacred or not. A good performer, as I see it, has different scenario's ready for one and the same passage in a piece, so he/she can do what the mood dictates, according to what happened before and what will come next. Some teachers, however, do not accept that categorically. You play at your very best, almost everybody in the room is in a trance from the listening experience, but you happen to play a "mezzo forte" where the composer wrote "piano". Teachers with a boneheaded schoolmaster's approach will give you a B or even a C, while you actually deserve an A as a performer. The fear of not getting what you actually deserve conditions you for a kind of listening that has nothing to do with free expression.
I understand what you are saying.  It is something that my teacher has discussed with me more than once.  And I remember especially the story of Pogorolich, and Argerich storming (stormng out?  storming?) in anger about just such a thing, since his interpretation wasn't tolerated because it wasn't "standard" enough.  Another was Stokowski talking in a Gould interview (got the CD as a gift) about his need to "defend" the composers whose works were being encased in such rigidity.  And those same attitudes would go on to regular performances.

I think the danger is especially great if people are not aware this is going on, so that they swallow the dogma of "how it should be" hook, line and sinker.  I their turn they perpetuate the ideas, so that soon that is all that will exist.  And the performer who does not choose the dogma, will he survive?  And if he deliberately plays according to the stereotype in order to be accepted and prosper, then in turn he is perpetuating it.

But even knowing all that - learning to hear - maybe learning to think goes along with it.  Dogma would allow the ability to hear to come in.  Is it a teaching where the student is expected to imitate without understanding?  Is shallow teaching also behind this?

Offline awesom_o

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Re: Teaching students to listen
«Reply #68 on: September 25, 2013, 05:31:37 PM »
In this respect, it is also important to point out the teacher's religion about the score being sacred or not. A good performer, as I see it, has different scenario's ready for one and the same passage in a piece, so he/she can do what the mood dictates, according to what happened before and what will come next. .


All of the teachers I ever worked with shared this understanding regarding musical interpretation. There is not one 'correct' way to play any given score.


I'm curious though, as to how you think Umi's playing has been influenced by anyone from the 'sacred score' school of teaching. What musical criteria caused you to think that? Because we can't just assume based on a hunch..... or based on a lack of facial expression during performance, etc.... there has to be something a bit more concrete. For me it's not enough to simply say 'she looked and sounded passionate at age 9.... now she looks and sounds boring' (my words....not yours.... but you get the point)

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

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Re: Teaching students to listen
«Reply #69 on: September 25, 2013, 08:08:10 PM »
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No amount of how-to information is going to work if you have the wrong mindset, the wrong guiding philosophies. Avoid losers like the plague, and gather with and learn from winners only.

Offline keypeg

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Re: Teaching students to listen
«Reply #70 on: September 25, 2013, 08:19:25 PM »
One question that might be asked is what level of students is being considered in regards to listening skills.  Everything I'm reading seems to be centered around the university level.  But wouldn't many of the teachers here be teaching at the most important level - the formative one?

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

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Re: Teaching students to listen
«Reply #71 on: September 25, 2013, 08:32:43 PM »
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No amount of how-to information is going to work if you have the wrong mindset, the wrong guiding philosophies. Avoid losers like the plague, and gather with and learn from winners only.

Offline keypeg

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Re: Teaching students to listen
«Reply #72 on: September 25, 2013, 09:05:59 PM »
I assumed that the OP meant a higher level of education since an audition and a jury were mentioned with a candidate from very far away, but I think what was said could be applied to ANY level where students have to "show" something in public performance (exams at music school, organized student "concerts" at home, for example).
I wasn't able to figure out what the OP meant because the whole post was confusing.  He also has not contributed to this thread after getting responses.  I just looked to see for clues on where he was coming from.  Is this a teacher who is wondering about how to teach listening?  If so, at what grade level, and what kind of listening?  He talks about "recognizing genius" which is NOT something you try to teach students.  In some posts he writes about how he practices, so maybe this is a student.

But if the question is how to teach students to listen, surely it begins by teaching them how to LISTEN.  And that has to start at the basic levels and up.  Even if you say XXX is the alpha pianist that everyone should follow.  The student still has to know what to listen "for" or it's not listening but blind imitation.

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

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Re: Teaching students to listen
«Reply #73 on: September 26, 2013, 04:25:37 AM »
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No amount of how-to information is going to work if you have the wrong mindset, the wrong guiding philosophies. Avoid losers like the plague, and gather with and learn from winners only.

Offline awesom_o

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Re: Teaching students to listen
«Reply #74 on: September 26, 2013, 05:10:37 AM »
Much is not right in the world of art.  :(

Offline keypeg

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Re: Teaching students to listen
«Reply #75 on: September 26, 2013, 02:19:58 PM »
I don't think this topic is about listening/hearing as such; it is rather about hypocrisy, unfair policies, and fanclub thinking.

If you are famous pianist/violinist X, you are allowed to do virtually anything against "what the composer intended". Even if the performance is poor, you will be forgiven. People want to hear you, not the composer.

If you are simply a student from Korea and you dare doing something in the spirit of famous pianist/violonist X (I'm not even talking about blind imitation), then you are criticized simply because you are not famous pianist/violinist X, and you should do "what the composer intended". People want to hear the composer, not you.

Gotcha.  How can this be turned into a teaching topic in the teacher forum?

Re: "....you should do "what the composer intended". People want to hear the composer, not you."

What the standard interpretation is of what the composer intended, and what their idea of the composer is.  I wouldn't be surprised if a composer could come back to life and performed his own work, if his performance would be rejected at "not being what the composer intended".

Offline awesom_o

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Re: Teaching students to listen
«Reply #76 on: September 26, 2013, 02:45:05 PM »
Speaking as a composer myself.... I never play my works the same way twice. Each time the interpretation follows the score closely..... but the result is completely different in terms of rhythmic energy, rubato, and feeling.

The composer didn't really 'intend' anything in that way, as I see it.

He wrote down a transcription of his musical thoughts.

The score is essentially a painting of his music. The music itself is the scene inside the painting, the subject of the painting. It does not actually exist. It only exists in the imagination realm.

The score is the canvass and frame.... the only remnant of the composer's musical thought that still exists.

Once it is in someone else's hands, it becomes their painting. It isn't a direct copy of the original, but a recreation of it. The composer awaits, eager with joy to hear how other people's musical ideas will interact with his creations.

The score is a set of instructions on how-to-do-it-yourself. It's up to you how you want to follow them. It has to be beautiful. That is the only rule for me. 

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

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Re: Teaching students to listen
«Reply #77 on: September 26, 2013, 04:05:17 PM »
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No amount of how-to information is going to work if you have the wrong mindset, the wrong guiding philosophies. Avoid losers like the plague, and gather with and learn from winners only.

Offline awesom_o

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Re: Teaching students to listen
«Reply #78 on: September 26, 2013, 04:28:11 PM »
What are you talking about? Music is a living, breathing act of creation. It must be fresh each time we make it. That is what learning how to listen is all about. 

Offline echristensen

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Re: Teaching students to listen
«Reply #79 on: November 26, 2013, 02:29:16 AM »
Yes- I have heard other similar accounts, and one in particular involves a very famous violinist playing in a subway or similar for change hours before a sold show at a major concert hall. Of course the passer bys ignored the performer for the most part.

Offline timothy42b

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Re: Teaching students to listen
«Reply #80 on: November 26, 2013, 04:26:41 AM »
Yes- I have heard other similar accounts, and one in particular involves a very famous violinist playing in a subway or similar for change hours before a sold show at a major concert hall. Of course the passer bys ignored the performer for the most part.

Of course they ignored him - because he wasn't very good.

He was very very good at playing symphonic music in a concert hall.   He had no clue what was involved in busking, and he arrogantly believed it didn't matter. 

A jazz specialist would not assume he could walk into a classical music gig without some research and preparation, but this violinist assumed he could play classical music on a pop gig and draw rave reviews.  He was wrong, and the audience responded appropriately. 
Tim

Offline j_menz

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Re: Teaching students to listen
«Reply #81 on: November 26, 2013, 04:44:23 AM »
Of course they ignored him - because he wasn't very good.

He was very very good at playing symphonic music in a concert hall.   He had no clue what was involved in busking, and he arrogantly believed it didn't matter. 

A jazz specialist would not assume he could walk into a classical music gig without some research and preparation, but this violinist assumed he could play classical music on a pop gig and draw rave reviews.  He was wrong, and the audience responded appropriately. 

Before jumping to conclusions, perhaps you should read up on what was actually done in prep and what the expectations and purpose were. Read all about it here.

Interestingly, when pop stars (using either term loosely), they seem to get a better response if they take a film crew and/or advertise.  Here's a few of them in action.
"What the world needs is more geniuses with humility. There are so few of us left" -- Oscar Levant

Offline timothy42b

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Re: Teaching students to listen
«Reply #82 on: November 26, 2013, 01:16:49 PM »
Before jumping to conclusions, perhaps you should read up on what was actually done in prep and what the expectations and purpose were. Read all about it here.

Interestingly, when pop stars (using either term loosely), they seem to get a better response if they take a film crew and/or advertise.  Here's a few of them in action.

I have read it.  Among other things, busking demands you hook your audience quickly - they aren't in front of you long.  Bell played pieces that needed minutes of attention - minutes that did not exist.  Almost every note he played demonstrated his ineptness at that genre - the results were predictable, but everybody blames the audience.  Put a famous chef in McDonalds, and give him 45 minutes to get your steak order up, then blame the fast food customer for not being appreciative! 
Tim

Offline keypeg

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Re: Teaching students to listen
«Reply #83 on: November 27, 2013, 01:40:19 AM »
  Almost every note he played demonstrated his ineptness at that genre - the results were predictable, but everybody blames the audience.  
Joshua Bell, playing Monti's Czardas, is inept in that genre?   - classical music?  It was rush hour!  People have to go to work, and cannot afford to stop or they'll get fired.  Hence the "rush" in rush hour.  The timing was deliberate.  This was discussed at length in the violin forum when it first came up.  If a pop musician had played pop music, the same thing would have happened.  Near the end of the clip you can see that as rush hour dies down, more people stand and listen.

Offline timothy42b

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Re: Teaching students to listen
«Reply #84 on: November 27, 2013, 01:14:02 PM »
Joshua Bell, playing Monti's Czardas, is inept in that genre?   - classical music?  

The genre was busking, not classical music.

Playing Czardas in a busking setting is incredibly inept - and only a supremely arrogant person would do so.  

It is indeed fortunate he doesn't have to earn his living busking, or he would go very hungry.

I agree with the rest of your post.

In most of the discussions about this that I've read, the knee jerk reaction was to blame the audience for being too stupid to appreciate the performer.  I hold the opposite opinion - the default position should be to blame the performer for not understanding how to please (or inspire, or whatever the occasion requires) the audience.    
Tim

Offline awesom_o

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Re: Teaching students to listen
«Reply #85 on: November 29, 2013, 04:33:40 AM »
The genre was busking, not classical music.

Playing Czardas in a busking setting is incredibly inept - and only a supremely arrogant person would do so.  


What would have been more appropriate repertoire, in your opinion? I'm not disagreeing with what you've said here, I'm simply curious as to what you think appropriate busking repertoire for a solo violinist would be.

Thanks!