Lately I’ve been thinking about taking piano lessons again. I played for a long time earlier in my life, from about the age of 5 until my senior year in college, about 14 years ago.
I got this same urge a few years back, and so I started looking around for a teacher. I asked my aunt, who is a professor of music at a college in a neighboring state, for a recommendation and she gave me the name of a good teacher here in Atlanta.
I was a pretty talented pianist back in my day, but when I started taking lessons with my new teacher I realized that I was not even in the same universe as her league. She is very, very good.
I gave the situation the old college try, but it was very hard because I was very intimidated. So one day, as is my wont, I tried to lighten the atmosphere with a little humor.
We were working on a movement of Bach’s French Suite V and she was explaining to me how to interpret some of the ornamentation (like trills) according to the rules of the Baroque period. So, me being me, I responded by saying, “Yeah, and doesn’t it make you wonder just who got to make those rules up, anyway?”
But no, if her blank face and stunned silence were any indication, never in life had it occurred to her to question the Sacred Scriptures Of Musical Interpretation. And furthermore, her horrified visage reproached me, the fact that you would even make such a flippant remark about something so precious and so holy just made kittens DIE!
She’s not my teacher anymore
Square-Peg Karen says
You GO Blasphemer!! Maybe this chicky is not your teacher anymore because (like the mystical poetry post prior to this one said) you ran
“… like hell my dear,
From anyone likely
To put a sharp knife
Into the sacred, tender vision
Of your beautiful heart.”
yea for YOU!!! Keep running and don’t look back. Hoping you find a teacher who’s more mentor/on-the-journey WITH you type.
Daniel E. Friedman says
Questions from students are an indication of enthusiasm and intelligence. Rules from the Baroque period did not evolve over-night. Over many years, ornaments evolved through improvisation practices of Baroque performers. Today, these improvising patterns are neatly notated for our convenience.
Keep questioning. It’s healthy.
My first day back visiting and you make me L.O.L! I can kind of understand a bit though, I almost had a seizure the other day because someone tried to tell me that our place of employ was not using math to figure out time. ITS MATH!!! YOU CANT OPT OUT OF MATH!!! societies rise and fall BUT MATH STAYS THE SAME!!! I am thinking it might be different with the baroques though. I missed you sunshine.
My second degree’s a B.M. (my first one’s a PhDBS–yeh, bovine scatology, wanna make something of it? :-)–but that’s another story, and we’ll not talk about my other useless academic wall dung, either *heh*). Ran into a lot of great technicians who sound to the non musician, and probably to quite a few who think they’re musicians, as though they are very, very good musicians when all they can do is regurgitate the notes on a score accurately.
That’s not music.
Your former teacher seems, from this lil vignette, to be one of those amazing musical technicians who don’t really understand music.
BTW, there ARE no hard and fast rules for Baroque ornamentation. General guidelines that changed pretty fluidly (as Daniel noted above). Performers made idiosyncratic choices based on talent, ability level, performance venue, generally-accepted perfomance parameters, composer input (if available beyond the very sketchy scores–by today’s standards–most Baroque composers gave their instrumentalists) and other factors.
Yes, there are some general guidelines, but hard and fast rules for ornamentation (as in trills, etc., as noted in your post)? Not so much. Heck, even the “rules” for playing a figured bass score on a keyboard (not “ornamentation” in the sense used above) could result in dramatically different performances depending on a huge array of factors.
The closest thing today to a typical Baroque instrumental score would probably be a Nashville chart, though even there, such a thing would be much more rules-bound than a typical Baroque score. *feh*
If the piano teacher were so rues bound as to feel Baroque pieces should be purely reproduced, she should dith the piano for harpsichord or clavichord, which, since she is NOT a purist, she won’t likely do.
Nah. Whenever I run into an anal-compulsive claiming to be a musician, I know I’ve met another person living in denial, no matter how brilliant a technician they are.