Here’s something my students can all do, if I remind them. They can play beautifully. Some more beautifully than others, of course, based on their level of development, but they all know what it means. When I ask for it, they take care of the beginnings and ends of their phrases, and make themselves sound pretty. It’s an easy add-on.
Not one of them defaults to this without being reminded. Again, the more advanced they are the better they basically sound – but it gets better every time when I ask for beauty.
The regrettable aspect of this is that I, too, sometimes need to remind myself to play beautifully.
We can all get focused on the easy, quantifiable stuff – the notes and rhythms – and lose track of the overall aesthetic point. Of course, when I’m at my music stand at home learning the music for the gig that night, I’m not really thinking about the inherent beauty of my sound. I just want to make sure I’m not caught out unprepared in rehearsal, and I can take care of the pretty part when I get there and I’m in public.
But this is dumb. How is the beauty of my playing going to improve if I don’t work on it mindfully? Certainly my warmup deals with beginnings, endings, vibrato, etc – but how much better might everything be if everything I played, even in private, was done with exquisite attention to every detail?
Beauty. We know it when we hear it. Why do we think it’s an extra element, to tack on at the end, rather than the ENTIRE POINT?
I resolve to do better. Thank you, to all of my last week’s students, for reminding me of this!
I’ve talked about this before, by the way – HERE.