Saturday, November 12, 2011


It's amazing how much detail someone will give something technically. Some people are really geometry like in their approach to phrasing for example. That form of phrasing is mechanical if it is not empowered by another motive. Not wanting to stick out is intelligent only if it is musically based. Not wanting to stick out because one does not want to draw attention to oneself is 'safe' and certainly not always musically sound.

How much detail and specificity is put into creating the atmosphere of the piece? Not a lot generally. Tuning into the spirit of the piece and first of all discovering it does not mean one is deviating from the technique. A Mocking bird can make several sounds that are similar to other birds and animals but they are imitations. People who are knowledgable in the authentic calls of other birds can hear and/or feel the difference when the Mocking bird goes through their impressive 'list' of bird excerpts. It is the same with musicians. I sincerely hope that there will be those that can always tell the difference.

Now, having said that, there are people who genuinely play dry, others who play more wet, some who are mentally based and some who are more emotionally based. These are just a couple of examples and there are many various combinations of all of these mixed in with other variables. When it is REAL it is REAL. What is is until it is another way. My concern is this 'audition ready' government which is not where music originates from. 'Audition ready' is a skill for a commercial end. Which I know can be a very demanding 'science' and discipline. BUT, will there be room for the other side of music to actually enter into that confined space in a organic living way? That is the vital question to ask. At this point in time and from what I have witnessed, I am not convinced that it does. A more integrated approach with the formula music + technique = Art, will be more satisfying and fulfilling in the long run. From that foundation, going into audition training mode can be assistive to the refinement process if done with an integrated mind and heart.


Gabe Langfur said...

Thank you for this Norman. I'm sure I will share it often.

I think I have never been able to successfully get myself "audition ready" without integrating my musical mind and heart, and the times I have been most successful (most of them anyway) have been the times I have been most integrated. I don't have the patience or, quite frankly, the will to simply drill an excerpt until I play it exactly the same way every time. When I've tried to do that I've felt nearly physically ill - and certainly my soul has suffered.

Maybe from the perspective of "winning the big job" this can be seen as a personal failing, but I feel a certain responsibility to both be true to this aspect of myself and to perform at a very high level - to show my students and others that it can be done.

I also consider my larger musical goal - to play in a way that is true and human and honest at all times - to be much more important than any audition or single performance. Any success that I have, in auditions or performances or any other aspect of my career, is a by-product of working towards that goal.

This is the only way I know how to live in music.

Norman Bolter said...

Thanks Gabe for taking the time to read this and comment.
It is refreshing to hear you and how you are always developing. That is the beauty isn't it? That we can always develop and use the Art as a great way of knowing ourselves and life even better.
Some people can't just do the 'technical' thing. It is actually punishing for them and amputates the other parts of themselves that will assist and give nourishment to the process. I also have many students who have not taken that just technical approach and have done very well indeed, whether it's been orchestra jobs, chamber music, freelancing and/or teaching.
A great mentor of mine said, "Be your own man but love the truth." Keep at it Gabe!