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Topic: Holding the same standard with...  (Read 1773 times)

Offline piano6888

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Holding the same standard with...
on: July 12, 2015, 04:50:41 AM
So I had a discussion with my former piano teacher (years ago) regarding whether an able-bodied pianist versus a handicapped pianist should be judged or evaluated the same.  His response shocked and rattled me.  He said "why not?" and he went on to mention that he still gave a piano concerto even after having a broken collar bone.

(By able-bodied, I mean one that is healthy, in ok to good shape, no broken bones or anything that would hinder their playing, so in ok to good health.)

Well, it just doesn't sit well with me for both logical and moral reasons. 

Putting this into context, let's suppose we have two pianists, same skill level, same/similar background, same anatomy, same repertoire, not nervous, anxious, good pianos, etc. Suppose pianist A is able-bodied and plays the fairly well to impress an audience/judge.  Pianist B has some handicap that would hinder either his range of motion, playing, feel, control, etc. so we'll say B has an injury that hinders the use of his left hand (like a broken hand/nerve damage/tissue and tendon damage) and is unable to play as well (or better) than pianist A.  It is not only illogical and immoral to hold B to the same standards as that of A because (obviously) there are limitations to B's ability that are outside of his control and regardless of what B does, B is always at a disadvantage to A, thus it is not a fair comparison!
I can give other non-piano based examples to further my point, but I think this should be clear enough.

Of course, in a realistic situation, personally if I were pianist B, I would almost always rather not play, or play simpler repertoire that would not be hampered (or less hampered) by my handicap.  If however, those were not an option, well damned if I do and damned if I don't; I'll just have to play and pray that the audience will understand or is forgiving and not ignorant.  Well, I'll stop here before this devolves into a rant.

So do you guys agree with my teacher or me, and what do you guys have to say about this?
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Offline outin

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Re: Holding the same standard with...
Reply #1 on: July 12, 2015, 06:35:56 AM
Since I don't think we should be judging the pianist at all, but the music he makes, I definitely agree with your teacher.

Offline piano6888

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Re: Holding the same standard with...
Reply #2 on: July 12, 2015, 06:43:48 AM
I was actually implying the pianist's playing (music), sorry if I wasn't clear about that.  
Also, so you're telling me that a handicapped pianist should be able to play the music as well as one who is able bodied?  :o >:( It just doesn't seem right, that's like trying to expect someone with less/diminished capability to be able to perform equally or better than one that doesn't have that impediment.
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Offline outin

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Re: Holding the same standard with...
Reply #3 on: July 12, 2015, 07:06:51 AM
I don't think you understood me. It makes absolutely no difference to me whether the pianist is handicapped or not, since the only thing that matters is what kind of music they are able to make. If it's bad it's bad and I would not stand it any better knowing the player is not in top shape... I would also not expect anyone else to give allowances with my own poor playing just because of my health problems.

PS. Life is not fair ;)

Offline piano6888

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Re: Holding the same standard with...
Reply #4 on: July 12, 2015, 07:23:44 AM
I see your point outin, and while I appreciate that you want to hear good music (I too), I still just don't find it fair at all or even moral to say "pianist B played horribly" and look at the pianist as a bad pianist.  Yes I know life isn't fair, but I still believe that people still need to look at the pianist's other performances and music before reaching a verdict.

So another example, (yes I shall use Horowitz here) Horowitz gave a great performance many many times, however there was one performance that was sub-par (due to his health issues and being on medication), his performance in Japan in 1983.  Sure, it was a bad performance, but I wouldn't say that he is a bad performer at all, and I look at all his other performances which are all brilliant and fantastic.  I may look at that one and just think well sure the music he made wasn't his best, but he still played really well the vast majority of the time.  Again, I didn't excuse his performance at that time (basically I'm not saying it was a good performance at all), but I still look at his other music and deem him to be a great pianist who plays well. 
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Offline michael_c

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Re: Holding the same standard with...
Reply #5 on: July 12, 2015, 07:30:03 AM
I can be impressed if somebody with a reduced range of motion plays the piano proficiently. I can have compassion for somebody who fights a severe handicap in order to play a musical instrument. But if I am to judge, I can only echo what outin says: I judge the music. What else can I judge?

To best judge a pianist in a competition or an exam, I would prefer not to see the player. My judgement shouldn't depend on whether the pianist is attractive, ugly, male, female, big, small, handicapped, athletic, old, young or whatever.

Offline piano6888

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Re: Holding the same standard with...
Reply #6 on: July 12, 2015, 07:35:27 AM
Thanks michael for your input and yes here is one for example:
Landon Weeks playing Beethoven's Pathetique Sonata No. 8 Op. 13


I know that if I was a judge, then no I would not be able to give him the first place prize or a good score in an exam.  Actually, in an exam, I would use a different rubric due to his handicap to be fair with him.  

As an audience member, I would be extremely impressed and moved by his playing, determination, courage (takes a lot of courage to play in front of people- handicap or not, but even more especially when handicapped), and his abilities with what he has.  I would NOT compare him to another able bodied pianist (and this is not trying to spoon-feed or baby him, it's trying to be reasonable and fair).  
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Offline outin

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Re: Holding the same standard with...
Reply #7 on: July 12, 2015, 08:14:34 AM
I see your point outin, and while I appreciate that you want to hear good music (I too), I still just don't find it fair at all or even moral to say "pianist B played horribly" and look at the pianist as a bad pianist.  Yes I know life isn't fair, but I still believe that people still need to look at the pianist's other performances and music before reaching a verdict.


I DO not make such statements that someone is a bad pianist lightly and of course one is always judging one performance/recording at the time. There are plenty of pianists that play some repertoire wonderfully and some other...not so good. There are more or less consistent pianists. If a good pianist played badly, why should it not be voiced?

It seems to me you are a bit too much into "ranking" pianists instead of evaluating performances...

Offline outin

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Re: Holding the same standard with...
Reply #8 on: July 12, 2015, 08:20:27 AM
As an audience member, I would be extremely impressed and moved by his playing, determination, courage (takes a lot of courage to play in front of people- handicap or not, but even more especially when handicapped), and his abilities with what he has.  I would NOT compare him to another able bodied pianist (and this is not trying to spoon-feed or baby him, it's trying to be reasonable and fair).  

Here we differ. I do not go see bad movies because I could be entertainted by the great special effects. I also do not enjoy watching a 3 year old child play a difficult piece badly simply because he does it so good for HIS age. I do not go to see a blind or handless pianists to be impressed because he can still somewhat play difficult music. Such things simply do nothing for me. If someone can cross huge obstacles to learn something I am happy for them, but I still prefer to listen to someone who has it all.

Offline Bob

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Re: Holding the same standard with...
Reply #9 on: July 12, 2015, 01:27:29 PM
I really don't care what the pianist has physically.  (or mentally, emotionally, spiritually... whatever)  It's just how it sounds.

If it's a piece for left hand only, the pianist with two hands or just one hand can sound fine.  If it's something that requires two hands, they could do an arrangement of it for one hand, but it's not the same piece.  (Actually, that's the same for a concerto.  If I did an arrangement of piano solo and orchestra parts, I can... But I'm limited by having two hands and only being able to hit the notes on a piano one time vs. a two person/4 hand arrangement.)


The Landon video looks a little glurgy.  On the flipside of that, someone could take a disability and turn that into the attraction.  The only reason I'm watching the video apparently is because his arms/hands are like that.  (And youtube autostarts the next video...)   Sounds fine.  High school kid.  The arm/hand issue doesn't seem to be that much in the way, except for not being able to hit all the keys, but he's still getting something down there.  I would imagine he could be driven to being very skilled at revoicing things and knowing harmony because of that situation.

At some point, if someone got that good, people are going to hear only the music and won't be aware of any disability until later.  They won't factor in anything about physical limitations in their judgment.

I'm reminded of whichever pianist it was who lost the use of an arm during a war.  Then he had left handed (or RH) concertos or something written for him.  "Pure" that way, developing the music with the different physical situation in mind... It's not altering the original.  It IS the original.

Andrea Bocelli too.  Same idea.  I don't think I was aware or cared that he was blind.  That's not how I first encountered him.  Then it does become a bit of a novelty thing to watch a video.... for a while.  He doesn't have anything cramping his voice though like a pianists without arms/hands/fingers would.  And being sightless could actually help his musical side by cutting one sense (more brain resources available) and forcing his auditory sense.
Favorite new teacher quote -- "You found the only possible wrong answer."

Offline outin

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Re: Holding the same standard with...
Reply #10 on: July 12, 2015, 02:48:41 PM

I'm reminded of whichever pianist it was who lost the use of an arm during a war. 


Paul Wittgenstein

Offline piano6888

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Re: Holding the same standard with...
Reply #11 on: July 12, 2015, 03:44:34 PM
Sorry if my posts seem as though I'm angry, I'm just tired of seeing or hearing people saying "that was bad" or saying the said pianist was bad and not considering the background.  It's just wrong to expect that person to play as well as though he/she didn't have the injury, because he/she is simply not able to given those circumstances.  I mean, what other choice does that person have? (Refer to damned if you do, damned if you don't).  And yes, right now I'm putting aside the idea of the pianist as a person.  I'm not saying that the music is good when it's played poorly, but I'm saying because of the situation the person is in, to expect good music out of it would be wrong and unrealistic. Should the performer just not play at all because he/she would not be able to produce good music or still attempt to but being ripped away by vicious critics? Seems to me like there is no good choice out of this (If you are going to just throw blanket statements - life isn't fair, or that's just life or things similar to that, well I'm just going to dismiss your statement.)

With what Bob said, yes there is another situation that came to mind.  Ben Folds, he is a percussionist and also a pianist.  He was about to graduate from the University of Miami and he has a music jury at the end of the year, however, the night before, he was defending his friend from bullies and ended up with a broken hand, unable to play at all.  Not only did the jury (his professors) not try to find an alternative assignment/exam for him, but still made him play (what the hell did they expect, for him to play as well as he did before the injury?!  >:( Madness I say). It's obvious that with a broken hand he isn't going to be able to play well, let alone further injuring the broken hand.  Needless to say, he threw his drum kit into the lake on campus.
https://www.npr.org/2012/10/06/162413579/musician-ben-folds-plays-not-my-job
I really sympathize with him, and to those people that still made him play, well in my eyes they are bigoted snobs.  I think any music school should work with the student in either getting him/her an alternative assignment, deferring the jury to the following semester (if the injury is severe but temporary and can mostly or nearly fully healed by the following semester), or finding another way to evaluate the student rather than either "You failed the exam/recital because you couldn't play or play well".  Folds was in a no-win situation (yes I know people keep screaming life isn't fair- that's true, but that's aside the point here.).
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Offline iansinclair

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Re: Holding the same standard with...
Reply #12 on: July 12, 2015, 03:47:28 PM
I agree with outin and piano6888's teacher.  It is the performance, the music, which counts.  I could, without much provocation, go into a long philosophical rant about the tendency to make allowances for various things, but I won't.

And to give a concrete, at home example.  As some of you may recall, I suffered a major injury last year which left me with a partially crippled right hand.  There is some music which I used to play in concert which I have been able to relearn and play up to my standards (which are full concert level; no compromise).  There is other music which I love and used to play in concert which I can no longer play at that level.  How is this to be handled?  To me, it's a no-brainer: the music which I can no longer play at concert pitch I might play for myself, but never, ever for a public concert.  The people who come to hear me deserve no less.  The composers deserve no less.  I and what I might want are completely unimportant; the music is what counts.
Ian

Offline piano6888

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Re: Holding the same standard with...
Reply #13 on: July 12, 2015, 04:04:05 PM
Ian, while I appreciate what you do there, I am not denying that the performance and music is what counts, however, I'm disgusted that people would expect the same level of perfection as one who has no impediment or handicap.  I know what you would do in your situation as you have mentioned, and since it works for you, more power to you.  I'm focusing on the others that aren't so fortunate; should they just not play because they are (physically) unable to produce the standard that is expected for the music or having to play and fail to meet the expected standard? In short, it is a dilemma and either way it is just going to end poorly for the performer: Having to still be able to perform just as well as the music requires but fall short of it, or omitting it completely (which has it's own consequences- many of which are not pretty).


So taking a non-musical example here: There are two people working at a factory, one of them has a physical, debilitating injury (whether on the job or not) and is unable to be as productive as the other one without an injury.  As a result, of course the injured worker is just not able to perform as well as the other one, and no doubt that his work will suffer.  However, it is simply wrong to say he is a bad worker and/or EXPECT that his work be as good as the standards provide, because it just isn't possible.  
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Offline outin

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Re: Holding the same standard with...
Reply #14 on: July 12, 2015, 04:24:39 PM
... I'm disgusted that people would expect the same level of perfection as one who has no impediment or handicap. 

No one is EXPECTING that. We just don't put the same value on their performance as with someone who is in top shape.

If it is a matter of injury or illness, one can always make the choice to cancel. Or handle the possible bad reviews. What you are suggesting is that we should all pretend that something was good when it wasn't?

If it's a matter of some permanent limitation...well, many people have to deal with those. Some are still quite good at what they do, usually because they know which battles to pick.

Offline piano6888

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Re: Holding the same standard with...
Reply #15 on: July 12, 2015, 04:36:54 PM
No one is EXPECTING that. We just don't put the same value on their performance as with someone who is in top shape.

That's what I am hoping that people would be able to do, being able to evaluate the performance based on what the person is capable of rather than just what all others are.  This is why common sense is important.

If it is a matter of injury or illness, one can always make the choice to cancel. Or handle the possible bad reviews. What you are suggesting is that we should all pretend that something was good when it wasn't?

Not at all, and in fact, I've mentioned that I'm not denying a bad performance is a bad performance, but understanding the circumstances I would not be expecting that person to play as well as if he/she was able-bodied; I'm looking at the performance based on what he/she is capable of with in his/her current state.

If it's a matter of some permanent limitation...well, many people have to deal with those. Some are still quite good at what they do, usually because they know which battles to pick.

Indeed, there are many people who do pick their battles carefully, and I do (and continue to) as well.  I know which repertoire I do the best in and I usually stick with those while still continually improving myself over the course time. 
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Offline outin

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Re: Holding the same standard with...
Reply #16 on: July 12, 2015, 04:46:47 PM
That's what I am hoping that people would be able to do, being able to evaluate the performance based on what the person is capable of rather than just what all others are. 

You just don't get it, do you? It's not about comparisons to me. If someone plays something simple beautifully and I enjoy it, I value it just as highly than someone who plays something much more difficult well. If someone insists on playing something that they cannot do justice to, then I do not feel obliged to put value on the performance, no matter how pitiful the conditions of said person are.

That doesn't mean that I don't think everyone should be entitled to make music. I would support everyone to play or sing for their own pleasure. But not everyone can be a celebrated virtuoso...

Offline piano6888

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Re: Holding the same standard with...
Reply #17 on: July 12, 2015, 05:03:57 PM

That doesn't mean that I don't think everyone should be entitled to make music. I would support everyone to play or sing for their own pleasure. But not everyone can be a celebrated virtuoso...

I do support people that are doing it for their own pleasure and I never said anything about them being a celebrated virtuoso.  I know that and I do NOT expect a virtuosic performance of the piece or from the performer in that case.

Again, if someone is unable to do justice to a piece but still attempts to do so, I'm already impressed with what they can do with what they are limited to (physically, psychologically, environmentally, emotionally, spiritually, etc.) because to me it shows the courage to go on stage to play despite adverse conditions, determination to stick to the end, and current limitations of one's ability.  I do not compare his/her performance to someone who is in top shape, I compare his/her performance to his current state and current ability (which I believe is the most fair and impartial way to evaluate it).

I just don't understand why you are telling me that I don't understand it. I have already mentioned that I'm not just comparing/ranking pianists and I'm looking at the performances.
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Offline outin

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Re: Holding the same standard with...
Reply #18 on: July 12, 2015, 05:28:37 PM
I do support people that are doing it for their own pleasure and I never said anything about them being a celebrated virtuoso.  I know that and I do NOT expect a virtuosic performance of the piece or from the performer in that case.

Again, if someone is unable to do justice to a piece but still attempts to do so, I'm already impressed with what they can do with what they are limited to (physically, psychologically, environmentally, emotionally, spiritually, etc.) because to me it shows the courage to go on stage to play despite adverse conditions, determination to stick to the end, and current limitations of one's ability.  I do not compare his/her performance to someone who is in top shape, I compare his/her performance to his current state and current ability (which I believe is the most fair and impartial way to evaluate it).

I just don't understand why you are telling me that I don't understand it. I have already mentioned that I'm not just comparing/ranking pianists and I'm looking at the performances.

What you don't get is that it's not enough for everyone to be "...impressed with what they can do with what they are limited to..." to enjoy a performance. I already tried to explain this earlier.

Limitations are not always even a big problem, if instead of highlighting them, the performer is able to trick the audience to not noticing the imperfections by selections of repertoire and bringing out the better parts of their playing. Great pianists often managed to do this at their not so good times. If during a performance I forget the pianist only has one hand, then it is a successful performance. If I have to think "how amazing that he can play like that with only one hand" then it is not. That's how I feel, like it or not.

Offline iansinclair

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Re: Holding the same standard with...
Reply #19 on: July 12, 2015, 05:54:52 PM
I have an uneasy feeling that we are talking past each other, to a certain extent.

If there is an individual who, for whatever reason, cannot do something up to a fully professional standard, but enjoys doing what he or she can, I have no problem with that.  Nor do I have a problem with that individual's friends enjoying the performance (or whatever -- I'll get to the workman in the factory in a minute).  More power to the performer, and the friends, and may they continue to play and enjoy!

That said, if that same individual holds himself out to be capable of performing or producing up to a professional standard, and does not do so, sorry, no sale.

The same is true in the factory or wherever; if an individual, for whatever reason, cannot produce a satisfactory output (of whatever kind), he or she should not be there.

I'm sorry to sound like an old curmudgeon -- which I am, I suppose -- but from my point of view it is a disservice to both the individual and to society to pretend that great and commendable effort somehow compensates for not so great output.  It doesn't.  Absolute standards do exist, and do matter.  Everyone should have the opportunity to become the best they can be; I'm all for that.  Everyone also should be able, either in themselves or with assistance, to realise what they can do well, and what they cannot do well, and be able to accept that.  In the context of this discussion, if that means they can play something and enjoy it, they certainly should do that.  No argument.  If they make a hash of it, I may applaud them for their courage in the face of adversity.  No argument there.  I will not tell them that it's a wonderful performance, if it isn't (being me, I'd probably say nothing at all -- but if asked might suggest that it might not be quite up to snuff; that's a difficult area).  Again, this is my view and others may differ.

Effort does not equate to excellence in any field that I'm aware of.

I have yet to meet a person for whom there is nothing that they can do and do well.  I have, sadly, met a number of people who aren't aware that what they are trying to do well they simply can't do, and are miserable as a result.  Celebrate the person as they are!
Ian

Offline chopinlover01

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Re: Holding the same standard with...
Reply #20 on: July 12, 2015, 06:08:34 PM
Paul Wittgenstein
And it was Ravel who wrote him the Concerto for the Left Hand, was it not?

Offline piano6888

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Re: Holding the same standard with...
Reply #21 on: July 12, 2015, 07:45:04 PM
Thanks for the thorough response Ian.  I agree with many of the points you've listed.  Of course, there would be some absolute standard to adhere to as always.  I think I understand your point now, especially when you are talking about "professional performances." In that case, yes, when the performances are ticketed, then of course the audience would expect top end performance from the performer, so from that perspective, I can understand. 

To put this into a real life situation though, I can name a few performers that have similar troubles, Murray Perahia and Leon Fleisher, to name a few.  Both had physical disabilities at some point that hindered their career and almost ended it for a while (true of Fleisher's case- before he was able to gain full functionality of his hand, focal dystonia).  So in a situation like that, if I were a pianist, I would of course end my career until I recover (or worst) or permanently retire.  Now if I were ordered or forced to play (not only would that be illegal and immoral on their end), then of course I have no choice but to comply- though that is a very bizarre, extreme case that almost never happens but I mentioned it just as a hypothetical. Also, I would not claim or write it off as a professional performance if it isn't such (obviously).  In short, if I would just out right not play or at least only play for myself, friends, family, and (true) fans.  A true fan, friend would be understanding and would not be judgmental or highly critical, otherwise (in my book) they are not a friend, but a troll.

Chopinlover01, yes I believe so.
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Offline timothy42b

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Re: Holding the same standard with...
Reply #22 on: July 12, 2015, 08:24:43 PM
I think this assumes a rather restrictive world - that of competitions, perhaps, or even academia.

In the real world, we play for an audience.

And if we're professionals, we play for a paying audience.

And a paying audience is entitled to the level of quality they paid for. 

Of course the venue can have an effect.  A cocktail bar needs a different approach from a musical pit, or a Chicago rock band performance, or a wedding.  But in all of those cases a handicap would make no difference to the perceived quality, nor the level of payment. 

Are you saying a handicapped person might be entitled to a level of pay not justified by the quality of the performance?  Seems off to me.

There's maybe a corollary, too.  Suppose I'm playing a wedding, and I want to perform music above my skill level.  I use software to enhance what I do, and the audience can't tell.  That's the opposite of a handicap.  I say there's no shame in that, either; I provided a service, and deserve my pay.
Tim

Offline piano6888

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Re: Holding the same standard with...
Reply #23 on: July 12, 2015, 09:04:17 PM
Yes, what you said is true Tim. My original premise is that it is not only unfair but also morally wrong to evaluate a handicapped pianist's music to that of non-handicapped pianist's music. (Assuming that both pianists are playing the same music, same skill, same background, etc.)
Then I later put it into context with real world scenarios.

I think this assumes a rather restrictive world - that of competitions, perhaps, or even academia.

In the real world, we play for an audience.

And if we're professionals, we play for a paying audience.

And a paying audience is entitled to the level of quality they paid for.  

In my previous posts, I have mentioned that I agreed with Ian on this part. Yes, an audience should get the level of quality that they have paid for.  So in a real world scenario, if I am unable to provide the said service (handicap, physical injury, whatever the limitation may be), then I wouldn't hold the said recital/concert/performance and focus on recovery (or retirement).  I think that cancelling in most cases would be better in that situation, unless of course that is NOT an option (refer to the damned if one does, and damned if one doesn't).

Of course the venue can have an effect.  A cocktail bar needs a different approach from a musical pit, or a Chicago rock band performance, or a wedding.  But in all of those cases a handicap would make no difference to the perceived quality, nor the level of payment.  

In this case, yeah it would be a performance for just entertaining the patrons that are there, and in the real world, the audience would mostly be there just for the night out, food, and atmosphere more than the music.  

Are you saying a handicapped person might be entitled to a level of pay not justified by the quality of the performance?  Seems off to me.

No, not at all.  I make no statements saying whether or not they should be entitled to a certain pay or not.  

There's maybe a corollary, too.  Suppose I'm playing a wedding, and I want to perform music above my skill level.  I use software to enhance what I do, and the audience can't tell.  That's the opposite of a handicap.  I say there's no shame in that, either; I provided a service, and deserve my pay.


In that case, I would agree when it comes to pay, "you provided them (wedding audience) a service, and you deserve your pay." As far as enhancements, I'm not really getting into that (for now at least) since that is another topic.

-----------------------------------------------

Now, if we are taking money out of the equation, I think my original premise is still true, especially in situations where the audience is friends, family, fans, and people that are there just for fun rather than expecting a virtuosic performance.  

The reason I'm so vocal about this is because over the years I've heard many ignorant comments both on the Internet and real life about one's musical playing without considering the underlying circumstances, and I'm just fed up with it.  Bottom line: It's unfair and just plain wrong to say the person playing the music sucked and/or expect the handicapped person to play as well as one that is not handicapped.

Again, this is taking MONEY and professional performance out of the equation, so I'm referring to casual playing, or even playing for an exam.  Speaking of exams, (refers to Ben Folds case) the professor/music jury panel should have some accomodation or alternative instead of just "too bad, so sad.  You flunked the jury." Alternatives could be rescheduling, or taking another demanding alternative assignment that the handicapped person is able to do.  That would be the most fairest approach IMHO.
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Offline piano6888

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Re: Holding the same standard with...
Reply #24 on: July 12, 2015, 09:44:43 PM
I think I've reached a conclusion with this and thanks to Tim and Ian, I've separated the ambiguity between professional performance, audience paying a certain amount thus expecting a level of quality proportional to the cost, assessment of others in a casual setting and or other situation.


I want to emphasize the word "casual" being a performance not being paid (some exceptions like a wedding or private event) or necessarily professional standard.  


For professional performances (more than likely ticketed shows and the audience pays good money) should be held to the absolute standard.  Again, I think it's better for the pianist to cancel/change repertoire rather than disappoint unless both options lead to disappointment and then in that case, pray and hope that he/she does as well as he/she can given the situation.

For competitions, of course the best pianist who played the best (regardless of impediment) wins (also most likely scholarships are involved - thus money), since it would be unfair to let the pianist that performed the best lose.

For exams or student recitals, I would say to reschedule them, find alternative assessments; this would be better than just flunking the student or just giving them a bad grade for something they cannot help (broken wrist, hand, arm, injuries that prevent them from playing or playing well, etc.).

Casual playing should just be casual and should not be held to that same standard as that of others that are able-bodied when the pianist is handicapped.

*Ahem*

So with that said, my conclusion is that I'm just generally pissed off that people evaluate the music produced by a handicapped performer should sound as well as an able-bodied performer.  That is the MAIN issue that I've been stressing in this entire thread.  So until people decide not to EXPECT a handicapped pianist to produce the same level of music that an able-bodied pianist is able to, I will always be angry about this.
(This is based on non-professional performances and non ticketed events (with rare exceptions). )
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Offline iansinclair

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Re: Holding the same standard with...
Reply #25 on: July 13, 2015, 01:06:42 AM
...
So with that said, my conclusion is that I'm just generally pissed off that people evaluate the music produced by a handicapped performer should sound as well as an able-bodied performer.  That is the MAIN issue that I've been stressing in this entire thread.  So until people decide not to EXPECT a handicapped pianist to produce the same level of music that an able-bodied pianist is able to, I will always be angry about this.
(This is based on non-professional performances and non ticketed events (with rare exceptions). )
And at this point it should come as no surprise that you and I would agree on this -- though I'm very glad that along the way we got some confusion or ambiguity cleared up!  I might even go one step farther than you have in this paragraph: it is quite possible that, for a group of friends or fellow musicians who are aware of whatever the handicap is and not concerned about it, the musicianship will come through and be appreciated and valued without possible technical shortcomings getting in the way; this gets into another area, of course, which could go on and on -- the distinction between musicianship and technical skill.  Sigh...

As to the Ben Fold case... in my humble opinion, he should have been given another shot at a later time.  Perhaps he will be, or find another chance; one can never tell.  There is a very real problem with overly bureaucratic approaches to things which his case illustrates all too well.

As to the situation where one is booked for a paid concert and simply can't... never a good scene, but it does happen, and there really isn't a good solution.  Someone, perhaps many someones, will be mightily annoyed whatever one does.  My own feeling is that if one can't perform up to the standard which one expects of one's self, the better part of valour is to maintain true to one's own artistic integrity and cancel and postpone.  But that's strictly my own opinion.  On the other hand... I recall all too well one ghastly evening when a prima ballerina, a close friend of mine, broke her foot rather badly early in the second act of Nutcracker (of all trivia to have it happen in) and persevered through to the end, including the grand pas; the audience never knew (although some may have had their suspicions) but we all did, and were just praying and holding our breath.  So... sometimes it's better, and who is to say which time is which?
Ian

Offline Bob

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Re: Holding the same standard with...
Reply #26 on: July 13, 2015, 01:59:20 AM
Sifting through the posts....

With whatever you've got, everyone has to do their best and make it sound good.  That one video sounded like a high schooler.  Ok, but... I'm not going to listen to it unless I have to. 

The jury drummer situation -- They should have just left the jury out of the grade.  That's "fair" as I can tell.  If there's a medical reason they can't perform, leave it out.  Or give them an incomplete for that semester and have him make it up later.  That's a different situation than the guy with deformed arms/hands though.

This part I can understand, could see happening, but I wonder about with ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) and the sue happy culture we have -- Would a music school not accept someone who is physically unable to perform standard works?  That guy with the deformed hands is a good example.  There's a talent, etc., but he's not going to play all the notes in standard works... Would a school of music pass on him because of that?  (Answer... Realistic answer:  No.  They'll take his tuition money anyway, and they would probably parade him out to show that they're accomodating someone with disabilities.  Whether he gets a job later... Well, they got the tuition, enrollment numbers, and it looks very politically correct...)


Actually, hand span is the same issue.  That comes up all the time.  Or if a composer wrote something that's physically impossible... Nobody has the physical ability to play that, same idea.


You could probably up the scenario too.  A pianist with no arms.  Or feet.  He doesn't play a single note on the piano. 

I'd still go with 'What they can play should sound good.  If they can't physically play a standard piece, they can't play it.  That's how it is.'


Casual performance... I guess I'm thinking 'student performance.'  If it's that, then I'd add in some 'lowered expectations' because it's a student.  Or because someone has a disability.  I wouldn't go listen at home though... Unless the quality was there.  Listening-wise, I would factor in the performer more if it's a casual performance. 


This though...
"So until people decide not to EXPECT a handicapped pianist to produce the same level of music that an able-bodied pianist is able to, I will always be angry about this."
For anyone, casual or pro, I'd want quality.  It doesn't matter what they play.  It just has to sound good.  My ears aren't going to factor anything about the performing in for that.  A performer with disabilities is in the same boat as everyone else -- It's got to sound good.  If it doesn't, fix it, practice more, figure it out.

(Handicap is out for words....  "Cap in hand".... ie Begging... It's not the politically correct wording.)


I'm looking back at the original post.... Yes, Pianist B should either not play or should adapt the music that they play so they still have the same level of quality as Pianist A.  A lot of people probably won't notice the difference, for laypeople.  If anyone's trying to do something they can't do, and it sounds bad, people are going to notice.  The ears don't compromise or care who's performing, having a good day, bad day, etc.
Favorite new teacher quote -- "You found the only possible wrong answer."

Offline dcstudio

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Re: Holding the same standard with...
Reply #27 on: July 13, 2015, 02:58:25 AM


I can't seem to figure out what scenario would see an able bodied pianist competing against one whose playing was hindered by some sort of handicap... or even a situation where they would be compared.

I have seen some challenged students perform for festivals that were judged. and they were given special treatment...but they weren't competing...

One of the greatest things I have ever seen was a boy with Downs Syndrome who played the drums.  He was a student at my studio.   At the recital he and the drum teacher played "I saw her standing there"  along with a backing track.   He was awful---but he was having the time of his life.   At the end he raised the drum sticks over his head and the crowd went crazy.   He got a standing ovation...  it was amazing...  not a dry eye in the place.


it's not always about talent   :)

Offline outin

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Re: Holding the same standard with...
Reply #28 on: July 13, 2015, 03:00:13 AM

Actually, hand span is the same issue.  That comes up all the time. 


Yes, that's a good example. Although I am not a professional I still need to make choices. There are plenty of pieces I cannot play properly because of my RH span issue (a thumb handicap actually). Some of them are among my favorites and I would really like to play them. Should I just forget my standards and play them poorly or leave out stuff? I would rather just let those pieces rest in peace and play things I can handle, while silently cursing the composer  ;D

I do think it's a culture thing also. I've noticed Americans love their hero stories, someone climbing over obstacles and do things they want to do despite all odds. It doesn't really matter so much if they are really good at it. I come from a more cynical culture, if you can do something well, good, but if not, then better just forget about it and find something else you CAN do.

Offline piano6888

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Re: Holding the same standard with...
Reply #29 on: July 13, 2015, 05:14:43 AM
Finally, I think people have understood my point now and to respond to a few of the recent replies, I will start with Ian.  Yes, the situation all seems very gloomy and damp for Ben as well as others who been through what he has.  With regards to the paid professional concerts, yes there are no good fix-it all solutions, but I would of course go with which ever option would be the least damaging in terms of artistic integrity, reputation, career, etc.  If that means to preserve integrity (not performing due to great risk of sounding horribly) and taking an early retirement, then early retirement it is.  Now, if those that play on, I would suggest doing as well as he/she can humanly possibly do with the repertoire or amended repertoire. 

Now, onto Bob's responses.

I do partially agree with one facet of that if one is faced with whatever one has (current limitations), then one has to do the best one can. Such an example would of two virtuosic pianists (A and B), one has suffered an injury that has set back his dexterity significantly and he is unable to pull off a Chopin Etude, whereas the other one is able to.  However, the one with the injury instead, goes for an Chopin Prelude or even easier repertoire and with the limited repertoire, A is able to perform THAT specific prelude to concert standard, then that is still a better situation than none at all.  Hence, for both pianists, that once were playing the same or similar difficult repertoire, they both would produce good music.  It is unfair to compare the same Chopin Etude between the two (A is injured and B is not), but reasonable to compare A to his Chopin Prelude and B to his Chopin Etude.

I'd still go with 'What they can play should sound good.  If they can't physically play a standard piece, they can't play it.  That's how it is.'
*DING DING DING*
This is what I'm looking for and hence it is a reasonable expectation especially in professional performances.

Regarding Ben Folds, yes I agree, he should either be given a rescheduled jury exam, incomplete grade, exempt from the jury (and probably replaced by another assessment), alternative exam, or other accommodations. 

And for the other guy, Landon Weeks, yes you are correct, that would be a different situation.  Not trying to rip on Landon, but (from a honest assessment) I also believe you are correct that no music would want to take him in, for that.  As far as the ADA and the litigious society in America, your scenario could be true, and realistically speaking, even if the school does take him in (to be PC in this current society), finding a job in his field would be difficult (I hate to be blunt but I don't know how else to put it) as the jobs are limited in the field, then compounded with the factor that he has a disadvantage compared to the other graduates in that school.  So, yes even if people like them are able to go through a music school, in reality, the music market would not accept him (not because of anything personal against him), but because there are many other prospective candidates to take the job hence the employers can afford to be picky. 

On to dcstudio now. 
DC, I don't think I know of a competition specifically or been in a festival where that happened either, but I do know that there are probably instances of that happening out there in the world.
Also, I'm happy that the drummer got a standing ovation and good reception of his performance. I wish to see more cases like this.

Finally, back to outin :P
I suppose one could just let those insurmountable pieces be laid to rest (one of the many work arounds), or of course play what one is capable of playing.

The last sentence is one that I can agree with, and while it is a loss to sacrifice one's favorite or coveted repertoire, if one wants to salvage integrity, then that could be a possible trade off.
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