I've been impressed this week with the way that the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis has allowed people from all over the world to listen to and watch the proceedings with both a live stream and immediately archived performances.
However -- with a Mac, I've had a difficult time accessing the video. As I listened to several performances without the video, I grew philosophical. Which is better? Do I hear more when I listen without watching, or does the video help?
One good thing that the video can do is to draw you in; that is, you are less likely to multi-task and do other things on your computer (or other things in general, like driving, or do the dishes), when you are watching video. Also, you can observe a person's technique, which is another interesting element.
On the other hand, the visuals of a performance can distract from the music and put attention on things like a performer's clothing, their technique etc. I'm not a particularly visual person, and so often I concentrate better on the music itself, with just the sound. Then again, maybe it's just because I grew up listening to audio more often; video has only recently become so extremely accessible.
What is your preference, when you are listening to a recorded performances? Are you helped by seeing the performer, or do you like to be able to listen to the music without the visuals?
"You didn't listen to your piece," I observed recently, upon hearing a student play a new piece for the first time.
She nodded her head sheepishly.
I'm actually not a mind-reader -- though it's fun when my students think I am! But I can tell a lot from the way a student plays a piece. This student had clearly practiced, but she missed some obvious notes and rhythms, which made it clear to me that she hadn't listened to the piece.
Listening to the pieces one plays is one of Suzuki's big recommendations, but I'm going to recommend it not just for Suzuki students, but for all students and for that matter, for professionals.
Music is an aural tradition. It's fantastic that we can share it with each other through musical notation, but this can get out of hand. Some people feel that it's even "cheating" to listen to music while learning it!
Not so. Listening is imperative to good musicianship. Are you working on a solo piece? Find several different recordings of that piece and listen. Listen for pleasure, listen with the score in your hand, take note of what is different, take note of what you like and what you don't like. But listen!
Perhaps you play in a professional orchestra -- what's on the agenda for this fall? Listen to a few of those pieces, especially ones that might be new or infrequent. You just might enjoy the experience more.
Are you, or your student, or your child, in a youth orchestra? What is the youth orchestra playing? Listen to a professional orchestra's recording of the piece you are playing, and the entire experience will be more enjoyable. You will simply play with a larger understanding of the works you are performing, and what you learn will have more sticking power.
So, the truth: have you been listening, lately?
What kind of rosin do you prefer?
These days I'm using Andrea rosin (formerly Tartini), which I think I would have to classify as "dark."
Apparently, dark rosin works well in a dry climate, according to a nice tutorial on rosin on Shar's website. This may explain why I'm attracted to dark rosin, living in Southern California's very dry climate.
I had a student who was allergic to rosin, and so it's great that there are now hypoallergenic rosins, one type being Clarity rosin.
What kind do you use, and what are the characteristics that make your rosin work well for you?
More entries: August 2010
Enter to win Leonidas Kavakos' recording of the Brahms Violin Concerto.
The Weekend Vote is from Pasadena, California. Biography
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