One year ago I made the first post in my officially rebranded blog. I renamed this space "pianistic intentions", because I'd been reflectively intensively on the idea of what it means to stand out as an artist. It seemed to me that there is a category of musicians, professional and amateur, young and old, who successfully combine the best of performance traditions, with their own, distinctive, individual voice. This is something they do with purpose and with intentionality.
I want to listen to intentional pianists. I want to develop intentional pianists, I want to be an intentional pianist.
So much writing about classical music, so many piano blogs, don't get at this specific distinction of how to be a unique artist. It's also really difficult to approach this topic when teaching advanced pianists.
I had a conversation with a younger graduate student in piano performance recently. I'd just heard a performance and complimented what I heard. They answered "well, I made a mistake but I don't think anyone noticed". I get how difficult it is to accept compliments when you're disappointed in your own performance. But I think there's something different going on beneath the surface.
This pianist thought that their performance ought to be judged solely on the merits of whether the right notes, rhythms, articulations and dynamics had been played.
It just so happens that I've overheard this same pianist practicing. I could tell that this pianist practiced in a way to avoid errors, or at least get through them. Not to fix errors, and certainly not to develop an individual musical voice. Not to problem solve, not to hear the music in a new way, not to challenge their perceptions of how the piece should be performed.
I'm posting a slightly abbreviated version of my first post about "pianistic intentions" below. The student I was speaking with has gotten the copying part down, but has yet to move past it.
I still stand by the framework of this original post. Everything that I've posted since then has been with the intention of moving pianists from the point of copying, towards a more intentional pianism. I haven't always been steady in my work, but I'm expecting that the second year of blogging (dare I say, intentional blogging?) will be even more fruitful than the first.
On May 22, 2017 I wrote:
A lot of studying the piano is learning to copy, from our youngest years through at least until completing undergraduate education. Initially, this isn’t a bad thing. We need models to learn:
"Modern performers seem to regard their performances as texts rather than acts, and to prepare for them with the same goal as present-day textual editors: to clear away accretions. Not that this is not a laudable and necessary step; but what is an ultimate step for an editor should be only a first step for a performer, as the very temporal relationship between the functions of editing and performing already suggests." -Richard Taruskin, Text and Act