Wednesday, April 07, 2010

What is good?

Clearly I have not been a good blogger, letting this poor site linger untended for so long. I have been busy, writing an essay for Drew McManus' TAFTO project that will be published next week, finishing my contributions for the Daily Book of Classical Music, working on a phenomenology of musical time project, and traveling to Louisville with the kids for Spring Break. I've also been training to do my first triathlon in a few weeks. But now I've got stuff to blog about, so hold onto your pixels.

I've been thinking about the goals for student performances. Twice recently I've heard criticisms of student efforts to tackle musical projects that were very difficult, perhaps too much for the current level of these students to perform to levels expected by these critics. I can understand that it isn't always pleasant to be in the audience for a performance that is very rough in implementation. However, these kinds of experiences can be very rewarding for the students. First of all, the path taken to develop these projects provides many opportunities for learning. Whether it is discovering the challenges in acquiring scores or broadcast rights, or figuring out how to tune chords which you have never heard of before, these are valuable lessons. Second, realizing that you gave a rough performance is a humbling and embarrassing experience, but this realization is also a window into personal growth. The embarrassed student can learn that success is not guaranteed, despite one's best efforts. This student will also learn that failure does not mean the end of the world. Third, the students who are encouraged to take musical chances in the safety of high school or college will be more comfortable taking chances when they are in the less forgiving adult world. And whether those new adults are professional musicians or avid music enthusiasts, the willingness to take risks can only help take music to new levels of awesomeness.


Anonymous said...

Amen, Scott on your observation that taking chances in high school or college is more comfortable than doing same in the working world. I believe the difference is that in the latter, one is expected to do well, as opposed to learning to do well.


El Johno said...

one of the greatest responsibilities of a college professor is allowing failures and helping to pick the student back up. WIthout failures, what will a student do when s/he becomes a professional and fails? it will happen, eventually. there will be a bad night. There will be a missed cue. And if a student can't learn to handle that before leaving college then life will be a lot more scary.

Or they will play the same literature all the time, and I (as a composer) will be out of a job. and be bored at concerts.