Methods, curriculums and competitions abound. Indeed, there is value in these institutions however, let us not forget that ultimately, music is about meaningful communication. Perhaps Glenn Gould put it best when he remarked that, “The purpose of art, is not the release of a momentary ejection of adrenalin but is, rather, the gradual, lifelong construction of a state of wonder and serenity.”
In this, our distracted era of digital media, we are all in desperate need of being moved in deep and profound ways. Can you recall the last time a work of art moved you to tears or gave you goose bumps? Can your students? If we are to move listeners through sound, then it behooves us to bravely step outside of the box of conformity, for as musicians, our habits at the instrument are in direct proportion to our habits away from the instrument.
In a recent workshop, I devoted considerable attention to the need for thoughtful practice habits away from the piano. Exploring the concept of line as it pertains to sketching, for instance, versus line as it pertains to music, or, describing the kinds of emotional and physical sensations experienced when listening to music recorded at frequencies other than A=440 (432Hz for example) are just a few of the activities that have proved meaningful in my own practicing.
Ultimately, the most critical role that we play in the development of our students and audiences is to help them become better listeners. In the final analysis, we might better describe ourselves not as teachers of music but rather, as teachers of listening.
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