noteworth: teaching sensitivity

My student, B is thirteen and he has finally memorized Albeniz’s Capricho Catalán.  We’ve been working on it juxtaposed to Satie’s Gymnopedie No. 1.

He favors the Satie piece (not memorized yet) for he plays it with a sensitivity that is remarkable.  It is such a gentle piece with mild dissonances.  He plays it with such intention that the melody floats.  He plays it in such a way that shows me that he is especially connected to this piece.

But that sensitivity is not consistent – as if he disconnects from himself a tiny bit during particular measures.

The faster and cheerful Albeniz piece needs more detailed study.  It’s busier and perhaps being on purpose and intentional is more demanding.  But how to listen slowly when things are fast?  Such is the dilemma with some.  Slower piece are easier to be present with while faster pieces demand a great deal of attention.

He’s already listening in such a way that most grown ups have not trained themselves to do.  And to grow his sensitivity I teach him to listen to his playing in a new way each week, approaching the piece from a new perspective.

This week we did heart surgery.

JNET:  “Did you know that those that study music are the highest admitted group of people to medical school?”

B:  “No.”  His eyes getting bigger with interest.  His father is a doctor and his mother is a nurse.  Most of my students’ families are in the medical field though I also teach many attorney’s families as well.

JNET:  “A surgeon requires a great deal of sensitivity to operate.  His work is very delicate and precise.  I would like you to especially go over those chromatic passages as a surgeon.  Stretch your ritardandos.  Exaggerate for now just to see the range you can stretch your expression.  You don’t play simply from your mind.  Project your music with your body and try leaning in to be more on purpose.  Do surgery, a delicate operation that demands even more attention from you.”

He immediately took to the operating table and the music was a new creation.  I’m looking forward to seeing how my young surgeon will sound next week.  Perhaps a week of practice will not only open a new sound from him but also a new world to which he looks at with delicate attention.

Can you also consider looking at the world with delicate attention and listening to how you express yourself?  Happy practicing.



~ by jnetsworld on October 15, 2010.

One Response to “noteworth: teaching sensitivity”

  1. My beautiful and talented friend,

    It is always such a pleasure to “see” you here. I just read the posts you wrote recently. Again, I must tell you how well you write, but of much more importance than that, how very proud I am to “know” someone like you. You have such fine judgment, your values are impeccable and you seem dedicated to your art. As you know, choosing a life of creativity is not without its pitfalls. However, you do not need my advice and will find your way.

    You know I wish you well,



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