One of the most unlikely things I have ever done is to continue after 17 years to work with a student despite (because of?) the fact that he does not practice - not only does he not have time, but he is rarely around a piano except when he comes for his lesson first thing of a Saturday morning.  A computer animator by profession, he has always had one of the most responsive and accurate ears of anyone I have ever taught.
So what do we do, since he doesn't practice?
First of all, I pay attention to every single sound he makes in the Beethoven sonata of the day, currently the E-flat, Op. 7 - not an easy piece.  Most of all I pay attention to the sounds he clearly does not like and to the wrong notes.
Today, again, a significant connection between the two clarified for me what the sonata is really all about: It is about imbalance injected by unwelcome black keys into what would otherwise be a stable, or at least bearable environment.
He gets it every time.  He leads me into Beethoven's brain.  It is nothing technical, nothing theoretical, just pure ear-based responsiveness.
A position of privilege.
 


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