The fortune read: Keep on charging the enemy so long as there is life.

I pinned the scrap of paper to the bulletin board beside my desk where, every so often, my eye catches it and I start to ponder what this means to me as a pianist and teacher. Who or what are my enemies? I try not to go out of my way to make them. Busywork that takes me away from being able to do what I do best is an enemy. People who sap my energy rather than give me more are enemies. I am my own worst enemy when I take on to much and lose balance in my life.

In a July 26 Facebook post, Andrei Gavrilov summarized his impressions of the state of music education today. He based his comments on the multitude of international pianists he has worked with in masterclasses over the last four years. “What or who is producing the greatest damage to young souls?”  I believe I am correct when I say his comments are directed at young solo artists, those who teach them, and the music business that surrounds them. Many of them apply to all piano curriculums and levels.

The following define perceptions that are definitely my enemies as an artist and a teacher.

  • False view on musician as a human “cut off from the rest of the real world”,
    view on music as a separate world
  • Perception of cheap amateurs and mediocre petite bourgeois
  • Fake authorities, false “examples to follow”, established by music business
  • no perception about goals and esthetics of Art in general, great lack of general knowledge
  • failure to understand the need for in-depth knowledge of related arts (painting, sculpture, theater, film, literature) etc.
  • no understanding that performers task is not a self expression but transmission of other spirits

As teachers, our students are constantly in many different phases of maturing. Certainly, I am not a “conservatory” teacher. However, the above perceptions, especially these: 1) fake authorities, false examples to follow, 2) understanding that true art is not about the self, and 3) lack of understanding of what art is all about, are all things I must work to change every single year.

So, I must keep charging—but most important, I must choose my battles.


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