Playing With Wolfgang: Syncing Schubert
As an undergraduate, I spent a semester discovering Schubert’s Impromptu’s. I was drawn particularly to the one in Ab. I loved the cascading figures and the drama of the central section. I loved the way he used major and minor as one big palette. I still do.
One week, my teacher and I were working on one of the transitions—that beautiful, magical moment as the central section gives way to the return of the A section. Mine was awkward and pretty unconvincing. I had tried to fix it with little success and not a little frustration.
Suddenly my teacher began to play with me and as we went over the passage multiple times together I got goose bumps. It was all in the timing—in holding back just the right amount while managing the dynamics. It was thrilling and truly an aha moment.
The magic of that moment that has remained particularly fresh throughout the years. Yet, I never quite had the same experience again in that passage. I still get goose bumps at that spot but not the jolt of joy and freedom I experienced that day.
Over the years, students have told me I have given them the gift of such a moment. And they, like I, say they are never completely able to duplicate the experience again. Research has shown that musicians’ minds sync as they play together. So, it would make sense that once the sync is gone so is the exact experience, leaving a student wonderfully free to be who they are.
Being unable to exactly duplicate what happened when our minds were synced, means that the other person has taken the moment and made it their own. To me this is a good thing. I have never wanted my students to be me. I have always wanted them to have their own unique voices.
Also, the idea of students constantly inside my head creeps me out.