The Ideal Student


Today I experienced two versions of the ideal student: One, relishing with delight his discovery of the potential subtlety differentiating a left hand from a right hand passage in Beethoven.  "This is hard!" he proclaimed, smiling, loving every minute of it.
The other had played his current repertoire for an astonished audience of peers, therapists, social workers, and parents at a center for developmentally challenged young people.  Among the selections he had played were some he had taught himself, having learned them from his iPad. Whenever I suggested he use all ten fingers instead of pecking with just one per hand, as he likes to do, he changed effortlessly and without missing a beat.  
One of his favorite pieces, by Bartok, involves the contrast between pattern and surprise: the pattern moving at first without conflict, and then clashing unpredictably with dissonances in the other hand.  Adjusting his internal timing he could make each transition without stumbling.  That he did so without prompting from me was remarkable.  
What makes each of these young men an ideal student is their love of the music they play.  That is all I can really teach anyone:  How worthy the music is of their love, and of mine.



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