Sunday, December 7, 2008

Ann Saslav's Thoughts about Learning Music

From my mother-in-law, Ann Saslav --- thoughts about playing the piano...

Musicians and actors share one quality, the ability to "recreate" the thoughts of others (the master composer, the master playwright that created the work studied)...and it has been my experience that "learning" and "re-creating" and "remembering" are three different processes. Each depends on separate brain-functions that are somewhat cognizant to the student.

1. Learning and discovering:
Part a. is sketching a new piece of music at first-reading, reacting to it as one travels over its patterns and noting the reactions that one feels.

Part b. is carefully and meticulously learning every note physically and coordinating the patterns into larger sentences...paragraphs...and finally, a total overview of the work. This is the process called "practicing". Practicing can be tedious or exhilarating depending on many factors of health and restedness and anxiousness to prepare for a deadline..and discipline. (This is another subject entirely!)

2. Re-creating: It is of utmost importance for the public Performance to be a FRESH and SPONTANEOUS recreation...for performer and though hearing it for the first time as a delighted participant. The act of "communication to the audience enters here too"...with projection of energy as though exclaiming an exciting discovery to a friend...and a professional artist take into account the acoustics of the hall (how many "friends" and how close to the acoustic piano will they be?..activating different projections for chamber music blending, or solo projections with and over an orchestra collaboration..changing weight productions and fingerings and use of pedals accordingly and instinctively).

3. Finally, remembering (memorization)....depends entirely on the conscious ability of the performer to understand the above (1., and 2.) and to "will" the execution and emotions of the music to take place even in the private practice studio or home many times before performing before the public. The daily public IS the performer him-or-herself in the practice room growing increasingly familiar with the material, the emotions, the projections. This work is never finished but continues even the day after the public performance. It is the performer's repertoire for life!

For more about Ann:
scroll down to find information about Ann and Isidor Saslav's touring program in Texas
a piece written for Ann when she was a touring artist in New Zealand

a 2007 project that inspired my "Journeys" program featuring the Lyric Suite, Opus 54 of Grieg

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