Rognvald wrote: ↑
Sat May 25, 2019 4:28 pm
Isn't this the same question we should ask ourselves about our potential musical abilities and focus on accessible repertoire rather than devoting useless time and energy to music that is far beyond our dreams and latent ability wasting valuable time in the process? Will determination alone overcome average skills and abilities? Is honest, self-evaluation and feedback from others critical to our growth . . . or, do you think you're still a home run hitter? What do you think???? Playing again . . . Rognvald
This can be a complex situation. Mixed in with it are these monumental pieces so many of us know. On the other hand, there is a wealth of repertoire out there that is far easier to manage. And much of this music is is continuing to be created by contemporary composers. As merely one example, almost everyone knows the name Carlo Domeniconi. And as many of you read this, you are already thinking about Koyunbaba. (To you advanced players: Yes, I know the piece isn't as difficult as it seems, but it still makes a great point). Koyunbaba is a good example of a piece that inspires many people. Without a doubt, it is also a piece many begin working on far too early which leads to frustration, low self esteem, etc. not to mention promoting poor technique and excess tension. This could be said about any great piece that is far too difficult. But speaking of Domeniconi, few people ever talk about the Klangbilder. Yet almost anyone that hears this collection of 24 preludes loves the music. Being able to play that music at a professional level would be (and is for those exposed to it) deeply inspiring and rewarding. And many of the preludes require nothing more than preparatory or grade 1 level of playing ability. This is merely one example from a collection of a lifetime of music that is continuing to expand.
With specifics, that is where the answer is more and more, "It depends." Yes, it can be beneficial to push the boundaries, or to work on pieces that are more difficult. But I think so many of that get wrapped up in a habit that started from the very beginning. In the beginning, everything we did was the most difficult thing we had ever done. But we managed to get to a preparatory level. We continued learning more and difficult things taking us to grade 1 and grade 2. For many of is, the process continued into higher levels. For many of us, the process may continue for the rest of our lives. And if that is what someone chooses to do and they are passionate and enjoy the journey, then great! Keep it up!
But so many of us fail to stop the process long enough to more fully reap all of the benefits and rewards of our hard work. As an example, a student may start diving into grade 5 as they continue their journey to who knows exactly where. But at what point do they ever take a step back? When do they finally decide to give themselves credit for all of their accomplishments and begin exploring a world of new and undiscovered music well within their current capabilities?
Many years ago I heard Andrew York make a comment that stuck with me. I forget the situation, but someone was asking him something about the Lute Suites. York didn't know the answer and had to plead ignorance, and in a sort of honest yet deadpan humor sort of way he replied, "I don't play the lute suites; I have a life." Your opinions of York are not what is important here. What is important is that this was a man that has achieved a very high level of success with the instrument as well as a great deal of fame, polarity, and respect. But just like every other human being, here was a man that knew his limitations. Does he have the ability to play the lute suites? It is irrelevant. He made a choice balancing his abilities with how hard he was willing to continue working. To go back to your analogy, could the man be an all star player in a world series game? I don't know. But the man can play baseball very well. All of us can play baseball to a certain level. We should just try to remember that.
Dr. Todd Tipton, Noda Guitar Studio
Charlotte, NC, USA (available via Skype)