The great comedian Bill Cosby said- Don’t play the moment- find the honesty in the moment. That is a mouthful for sure. I recently asked my students how they thought that this statement connected with interpreting a musical composition and whether the honesty in question was theirs or the composers.

The students? Those who answered ranged from college age down to about 10 years. The answers? I found I simply could not write on this topic as well as they did, so I am devoting this post to their fine insights on the question.

It’s sorta dishonest to just play a piano piece without any feeling or emotion. It is being disrespectful to the composer and people who listen to you. (GF)

I always think of honesty as telling the truth which wasn’t making sense to me. But after thinking about it, I think when he used the word honesty he didn’t just mean telling the truth- but really holding nothing back. I think that the honesty in the moment is your honesty. I must not play a piece in the way I am currently feeling, always changing the meaning with my mood. I have to focus on the meaning of what I am playing and what honesty I want my audience to understand. (BP)

This statement relates to interpreting a composition because one can’t play a piece on any instrument if they aren’t putting their heart into it in the same way as if they really knew what the piece meant. When Bill Cosby says “Find the honesty in the moment” it’s like he’s saying he wants you to pull a metaphoric cloth off the piece so that the audience can understand the piece a lot better too. (YZ)

While playing a new piece of music or any piece of music for that matter, you must figure out the truth behind the piece of music in order to be able to translate it in your own honest way so that you can portray the right mood or feeling to the audience. (IC)

Playing the moment to me is like faking it- putting on a facade. It makes me think of a player putting on a show that doesn’t really represent the truth behind it. Honesty also means presenting as your really are including your preparation. If you aren’t prepared- haven’t studied the piece, practiced well, put your best into it, considered expression the composer intended and your own interpretation of the piece- chances are you won’t be able to be honest in the moment and you would know inside that the experience wasn’t a real one. (SB)

Emotions and ideas in music even from the Baroque time period were the same as now, so the performer’s honesty can be combined to the composer’s, and in the sharing of the piece between composer and performer a wonderful mood and expression is created. (CU)


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