Issue 60: Learning and “the natural musician”

I’m not sure if I AM a “natural musician”.

I stand in awe of my colleagues who can play their instrument so much more fluently than me, who can hold a part, keep a rhythm all in an apparently effortless manner.

They can do that conducting thing when you draw triangles with one hand and squares with another.

They can play cross-rhythms; not just “2 against 3” (that’s not actually too hard), but “5 against 4” or “13 against  2” (I’ve been teaching Chopin).”

They can syncopate without counting all the quavers, and “feel a groove” (I’ve been teaching Brubrek).

They can identify modulations to the super-tonic minor without breaking a sweat, whether or not they have perfect pitch (I’m bracing myself for teaching grade 8 aural).

I think I am a “natural learner”. I love learning how to do things, and, more importantly, learning ABOUT how I learn things.

Not everything; I don’t want to teach myself how to use my new mobile phone, and I rely on others to do techy stuff like update the computer. I’d rather watch “The Great British Bake-off” than have a go at making the cakes.

But about music; I am fascinated by the different ways of going about learning music. Teaching and learning music is like taking part in the most brilliant treasure hunt ever contrived. The prize is being able to play something well, or better, or in a new way, whether that is for me, or for my students.

Indeed, very few of my students are “natural” pianists, but all are capable of learning, and progressing, and gaining pleasure from the sound and tactile feel of playing the piano. If I can help them on their way to this prize, then that’s prize enough for me.

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