Last Friday all of my students, many storm-battered, came together for a Group Class—as much an exercise in critical listening as performance . When I write “critical” , it implies a kind of deep and sympathetic ear, rather than any negative connotations. Getting us all together is a feat in itself, and this event had been planned a while back. Greta’s Bach Andante from the Italian Concerto, was a wonderful way to get the ball rolling . Brent, who had come in for his annual coaching, from Wyoming, played two sets of Bach preludes and fugues with reverance and clarity; Edward, after two weeks of hell in dealing with the aftermath of the hurricane, still managed to focus and play his Granados “Maiden and the Nightingale” with all the requisite exotic colors and flavors. Melisa played her Schubert Moment Musical with exquisite refinement and restraint., and Melissa’s Pagodes , by Debussy was sheer bliss. Gary got all the stylish salonish flourishes into his Weber “Invitation to the Dance” along with his usual amusing asides, and Chris’s movement from Beethoven’s opus 27, No. 1, was evolved and lovely. My three teen-aged students, Chia-ling, George and Maddy, were no less successful with their Chopin and Bach, and several students sat in, choosing not to play this time.
The thing about this class is that it has become a musical family. The support and mutual respect, not to mention the genuine rooting for each other’s best efforts, is a phenomenon that gives me so much pleasure and fulfillment, not to mention compensation for not having my genetic family nearby. We all look forward to being together, and the feeling of friendship abounds. I would even say there is love in the air. The commentary is offered gently and constructively, with praise, and because of this positive atmosphere, nerves are down to a low rumble, if there are any at all…
For me, it was the most healing antidote for the hardships of the previous weeks, when music could not lift me up and out of the doldrums. Now, with these wonderful people who comprise my class of students, I was buoyed up and in my beautiful life again.

2 thoughts on “

  1. Human connection – there is no substitute! As you mentioned in this blog and your previous one, music was not able to bring you out of the doldrums and it could not, to a large extent, model Nature’s true character, as you witnessed during Sandy. The conclusion you’ve made is a valuable one and something we all need to remember: the human experience, connecting with each other and being together, is really the antidote to life’s hardships, and it brings us closer to truly living. – Christina

  2. I am glad to see the reference to the word “critical” in a positive light. I have been teaching “critical feedback” for company people who also have to learn to distinguish between negative feedback that can be demoralizing, and critical feedback that focuses on the important aspects for continuous improvement opportunities. Critical feedback is a gift that should be received with a “thank you”.

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