Sunday, March 25, 2012


This is a very intriguing topic for me. Because like everything else, interpretation has levels of insight, perception and process. And these depend on the depth and power of the connection of the interpreter. Are there wrong interpretations of books, poems, music and everyday conversations with others? Most would say yes. But I would say, as another way of looking at it, it is a matter of the consciousness and angle of incidence of the interpreter into the subject matter that would determine how close to the truth the actual interpretation is. Having said that, that does mean that certain interpretations can be very far away from where the actual point or core of the truth is? In fact, it could be so far away, that it is totally disconnected to what the piece of music, poetry, movie, or anything else is about, that it creates it's own separate little reality.

How about when someone says, "that is a very dry interpretation." Someone else might 'warm' to that 'dry' version of that piece of music. Others might feel it lacks emotional content. There might be a group of people that would say it was 'appropriate' in the context of the music. Here is a big question, IS IT ALL IN THE EYES OF THE BEHOLDER? And this begs the question and further enquiry into what is IN the beholder?

There are people who are considered great experts or authorities in a particular field. A Bach expert or an authority on the music of Mahler. Is knowing something about a piece of music or a work of art important before playing it or listening to it? What happens to you before you know about a piece and you play it or hear it? How does, if it does, change or alter your feeling and interpretation of the piece after you know something about it? I have found that knowing something about a piece then playing it, can make a profound difference in the way I approach it.

Here are some crucial things to consider: When you interpret, WHAT is interpreting? Your academic references? Your emotions? Your 'practical' mind or your 'abstract' mind? Your former or current teachers' concepts? Your instincts? Is there bias? Your likes and dislikes? This is a big subject and is not complicated for the sake of complication. IT IS WHAT IT IS.

In my looking at this, I see an amazing opportunity for deeper personal growth. It is best to be simple with it perhaps in a childlike way. How does it make you feel? How does your body feel when you hear the piece? Does it bring up thoughts of a certain kind? Do you feel energized or drained of energy? There is a good one to look at!

Musicians often say they want to be true to the composers wishes. Do they know what those REALLY are? That is the quest. And this is where letting yourself be free for a while to go on some journeys, some mystery dreaming and let your thoughts soar. This will thicken your interpretation. It will make it richer and more vivid because you will be playing with more connections.

The actual written music, depending on what you connect to when you are playing it or thinking about it, is a URL to the site in the life of the composer and to the Universal Web of what he or she was ACTUALLY CONNECTED TO, WHETHER THEY KNEW IT OR NOT. This is of course, one of those things that I would say is science fiction until you can prove it to yourself as fact. I have NO DOUBT about it's reality through my own experience and process of many, many years.

In the very end, maybe it is the process and journey of what happens to us that is more important and vital to our lives than what would seem to be a 'correct' interpretation. It's in the process that we evolve.

Friday, March 16, 2012


Most people will not win an orchestra job that can totally support them financially. Some people keep trying regardless of how many years they have been attempting it.

A great mentor of mine said; "it's not what you do, it's the reason why you do it". So a person might have strong personal reasons why they need to keep on trying for 'the job'.

An orchestra job is a particular type of job that is governed by the fashion of playing currently in vogue. People are very easily impressed by 'perfect' rhythm, pitch and accuracy. Put a 'beautiful' tone on top of that sprinkled with the 'appropriate' amount of the condiments of dynamics and style, and you will stand out as a gem. An excellent key on the orchestral keyboard. Not an easy task to accomplish! It takes a TON of hard work, determination and talent to achieve that kind of standard.

Here is the big BUT; not everyone can take their playing and push it into that narrow space of expression and tone. This is more of the case with brass and woodwind players. It seems that strings are 'allowed' to have a big spectrum in general including in the orchestra while winds and especially brass, need to be more conservative. Is this the 'correct' role and function of each section? Maybe….BUT!

Perhaps those of us who cannot just have our whole soul based in that realm will eventually break free of that prison and form new groups and orchestras. Certainly a lot of the music written now calls for a very extreme dynamic and expression range. At the same time, the criteria for getting into an orchestra now and playing mostly the 'classics', calls for even tighter control over the emotions and technique. ( I don't think this was the original intention of the composers and has worsened due to the digital era of virtual reality). A very interesting comparison. Perhaps the 'new' music of today is getting very tired of that narrow box and the orchestral- classical- box is getting frightened and is clinging more than ever to its proper, clean and good mannered playing. It is clinging for it's dear life so much so that it is choking itself to death. We will see what evolves in this unfolding drama of music in the future. The future is actually here now.

This post was inspired by a couple of things. One strong influence was seeing my son Ben's new music group called "Holographic" last week in Bloomington Indiana. Ben is co-founder of the group and conducted several of the pieces. The compositions were outstanding, the musicians were terrific and Ben's conducting was superb. What was truly catching about the evening, was that I had never heard these pieces before. I was 'free' to hear them without prior comparisons or preconceived ideas of 'how' it should go. It was very invigorating. Maybe the 'classics' need a fresh approach that is connected to the SPIRIT of the music instead of a very overly studied and stifled rendition. I think 'classical' musicians need to loosen up a bit frankly.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012


It is interesting to see how soon someone gets satisfied with their playing. Some people are never satisfied totally. Some get satisfied with their standard quickly. I find this is directly related to the power of the desire to improve and the willingness to work for it.

Here are some good questions to ask oneself:

*How much are you willing to search, try, experiment with locating and tuning into the expression and meaning of the music? If you feel that it gives up, what is giving up?

*Is it easier for you to hear technical flaws in pitch, rhythm, tone or clarity?

*Do you feel a sense of satisfaction at the end of a practice session regularly?

*Where and when do you feel the most satisfied? How and what made you feel satisfied?

*What artists or concerts make you feel satisfied?

* Is it important to feel satisfied all the time?

* What do you do when you are not satisfied in a practice session?
1. How do you handle it?
2.Can you spot why you are not satisfied?

How do these questions make you feel?