The importance of ‘figuring it out for ourselves’

All of us would plead ‘guilty' to listening to a recording of something we are about to perform before learning it and performing it; I don’t believe that there is a problem with this as long as we don’t imitate just for the sake of it, and as long as we always remember to ‘figure it out for ourselves’. Younger students are particularly prone to doing this, as the first thing they will do upon starting to learn a new piece is listen to it on YouTube or Spotify and imitate the performance down to the last detail [and error] without bothering to ‘figure it out’ along the way.

‘Figuring it out’ is the whole point of learning how to read music and of being a musician in the first place, which is why I always encourage students to reason things out for themselves and to figure things out with me throughout the course of their musical development. In direct relation to this, I am staunchly against showing students something and letting them copy/telling them to copy what I just did, as this hinders rather than helps their musical development. It is therefore of paramount importance to listen to anything (a recording, an opinion, etc,) with a critical ear, in order to develop critical thinking and hearing both as a musician and in general, and to avoid making mistakes one could easily have avoided had they bothered to figure it out for themselves & with a teacher rather than through blind emulation/copying.

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Markson's Pianos


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© 2012 by Juan J. Rezzuto. All the tracks, scores and articles you can find in here are copyright.