Musical Development

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    Apart from technical development, there is a musical growth or maturing process in each student. Students who are technically advanced may not be able to play various kinds of music for nontechnical reasons. What have you learned about the progress of such students and what advances them from one kind of music to the next? Is it simply a factor of age, or is it musical experience?


    One of the best ways for a student to gain that maturity is to listen a lot to great performances of great music. The more they hear and absorb, the more they understand style and nuance. A teacher can inspire the student by demonstrating at lessons, but students benefit greatly from attending live concerts. They don’t have to be harp concerts. Life experience is certainly helpful, but some young prodigies are able to connect with the core of the music in spite of their age. It might have more to do with imagination, emotional depth, and plenty of exposure to good music. If the student tries to paint a picture with the music instead of just thinking of notes and chords, that can lift them up to another level.


    I agree, it’s an absolute necessity, but I don’t see them going, do you? But then, most artists today don’t seem to be of the caliber of the past artists like Casals, Rostropovich, De Los Angeles, Fischer-Dieskau, Rubinstein, those of such great heart and humanity. Perhaps historic recordings are more important?


    Not only musical experience, but I have found poetry memorized when in childhood, to be a contributing factor. My generation had to stand before the class and recite these; none of my students say that they are asked to do this. Poetry with its winnowed wisdom, and natural cadence of rhythm, and rhyme, puts together several factors for the brain to harmonize. Then, when the child begins music, he /she has already been able to synchronize enough so that when the musical symbols on the page are added in, or even completely aural sounds at first as with the Suzuki method, the learning is more rapid. Families need to use poetry at home, since it seems to be missing in much of public school education. The children’s librarian in your locality will steer you to collections by Louis Untermeyer, Dorothy Aldis, Walter de la Mare, and others.


    Most artists of the past weren’t of that calibre either!


    I see them going. Perhaps it is just a regional thing but when I go to the Symphony there are no shortage of kids, and I easily recognize many members of the youth symphony at the regular symphony performances.

    Every one of my nieces and nephews were regular concert attendees when they were in school, as well as most of my neighbors kids. I have taken my neighbors son, who plays flute, to concerts on several occasions.

    It may just be a matter of where you live. Around here MTT is considered as big a star as Gerry Garcia was. The average person on the street would recognize him and consider him one of our greatest local celebrities.

    That said, I think there is definitely a


    I agree with Elizabeth that it is important to hear great performances of a variety of works as well as hearing multiple performances of a particular work.

    Understanding the underlying structure in the music, studying form and analysis, also develops a deeper sense of the music and can influence the way it is performed. In addition to this there is a psychological aspect to understanding music and how it relates to emotion, philosophy, and meaning. This can be developed through a study of music history which includes a sense of performance practice issues, cultural assumptions about the role of music and what it communicates, and an understanding of the composer’s personal life and intent in the work. Also, challenging the student to connect with the music and find personal relevance and ownership in relationship to each piece including a diverse range of styles can add to a sense of maturity.


    The point of mentioning the past performers is that they were really great ones, not how many or how the technology duplicated them. How many today can be called that? The only conductors I’ve heard in the last decade that moved me were Fruhbeck de Burgos and Claudio Abbado. There are some terrific opera singers like Deborah Voigt, but for recitals? Not sure. I don’t think that highly of Dawn Upshaw, she’s not as fine as Von Stade. I don’t doubt great artists exist in greater numbers than we ever hear about. Many spend most of their time teaching.


    One clear influence seems to definitely be musical literacy. The more music the student has experienced, the more sophisticated they should be and the broader their range of interest and ability to play different kinds of music. I have started to issue listening lists to my students, and next will require a minimum number of concerts to attend, or specific ones, hopefully they’ll attend.


    Hi its a good question, yes students must to feel the difference among the different styles,baroque,classic,romantic,modern,etc….i told my student all the time to play the Etudes also musically not only technically,but the problem is how to explain them the differences among the periods,historically,socially,economically,etc…?????????????????????.

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