Tim Hinck's thoughts on music and life- There is a lady living across the street from me. She is dying of cancer. I have never seen anyone so full of life and energy. She loves to work outside in the flowers and grass of her yard. I can see her savoring every sunny day... the way she stands up from planting a flower bulb with such satisfaction on her face and claps the dirt from her gloves with resolution. I want to be like that lady.

Location: Schalkwijk, Utrecht, Netherlands

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


(river sandstone, Tennessee)

I have a student who I find almost impossible to teach. This student has learned the notes, they have learned the interpretation, but they cannot even understand that there could be more. I don't think that anything moves or turns inside of them when they play. If I am lucky, this student at least can feel the tick-tick-tick of the tactus keeping them within a steady rhythm; that alone is a skill of maturity. But how can I teach my student that sickening urgency that you feel in your gut as you play a musical line falling down and down to its cadence? How can I explain to them that a single note entrance can feel like a furious axe-fall or a mournful sigh by doing nothing other than displacing its entrance by a hundredth of a second? And then somehow I have to back-step and teach my student that all of this passionate playing must be restrained so that the bit that escapes from your psyche is swallowed and polished by the room's acoustics and isn't even recognized by the audience. The listeners can't feel the weighless upbeats, or the tiny pushes and pulls of tempo. You've muted the axe-fall to a subtle nuance of your fingers even though the executioner is raging in your head. And all that the audience can contemplate is that your performance sounds somehow more musical than the last, but they don't know quite why.

How can I teach my student that?


Blogger jerry said...

I don't know if its a question of how you can teach that, but whether.

It's like relationships in a way. People call it a connection; i'm not sure what it is exactly, but I would describe it like this. Something within you calls out, finding no response from some, and finding an answering call in others. Something in that person answers to you.

If you get no response from a person, no matter how willing they are or how attractive they may be to you, you will always be fooling and cheating yourself. And them. A lack of connection is something that can be studied, loved, hated, or ignored, but rarely remedied.

If you have seen the executioner, or been brushed or pierced by a word or look perfectly placed, then you can possibly learn that other things, however mathematical or fanciful, can have life. Your life, your brush with death, the visceral urgency inside of you, can all be reflected, applied, maybe even harnessed.

But if you have not experienced a thing, what can you say about it? What you can learn about it? Only facts, reports, analyses, precise or broad, it doesn't matter. More than that, how can anything you do be infused with a life and energy you have never tasted?

Maybe before your student really sets out to breathe life into something else like music, they need to have life breathed into them. If your student is to learn it, it may have to be on the chopping block. Ex nihilo nihil fit.

4/26/2007 8:14 PM  

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