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Technique-related thoughts

Updated: Mar 31

Oh this is a drafty one. I'm just going to write basically what I told my students at the beginning of the day camp. I was trying to trauma-proof the thing.

Okay, it's more than what I told them.

Music lives in everyone. It lives in the babies who wiggle arhythmically when they hear it - even though their movements are not rhythmic, Music animates their movements which seek rhythm.

Music does not wait for you to have highly developed technique to live in you; you do not have to be a great technician to be a great musician.

You can have a lower level of technique and still be just as valuable musically to the group as someone with a high level. (Of course, you have to follow your musical instincts.)

Music inspires technical development. As it inspires wiggling babies to seek a rhythmic motion, it inspires violinists to search for a smooth, connected bowstroke, contradicting the natural curves of their arms; it inspires precision, high notes, speed, depth, a range of colors; it inspires the expansion of what is possible. Music asks us to develop our technique so she can animate us more fully, and those who focus on the development of that technique earn honor and, in group settings, accrue responsibility. But those who do not rearrange their life to focus on technical development are not dishonored. Seeking music within a context of an ordinary life has its own kind of honor - just not the honor of musical leadership.

Silent music is very real - not just the silence in rests, but the way we focus our energy silently while we are playing or not. One of the most important ways to make silent music is to listen. Listening is the groundwork for playing musically, and that groundwork is powerful even without playing. Listening is a way of interacting with musicians, and when you listen to someone playing music, you are their duet partner. In fact, you can think of conducting as a form of highly specialized listening. Musical listening is a skill that can be developed apart from any kind of sonic technique.

When it comes to making noise, even the simplest noises can integrate musically into an ensemble. It doesn't take high levels of technique to clap your hands at a volume, time, and articulation that will enhance the overall musical effect - but it might take a high level of musicality, or silent music.

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