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Really listening (and its rewards)

by Bruce Siegel on August 10th, 2010

I keep a journal about my playing and practicing. This is from today’s entry.

I spent some time with the well-known Sonatina in G. (Probably not by Beethoven, as it turns out.) One of my students is playing it and I want her to hear how beautiful this little piece can sound.

It took me a while to get caught up in the music and enjoy it, and for a while, I thought I never would. But as I listened more and more closely and found little things to do that pleased me, I perked up.

I experimented with different shades of pedaling, and adjusted the balance between the two hands to make the melody sing out to just the right degree. Often, I was surprised to hear what a dramatic improvement I was getting from small touches like that, which inspired me to keep finding others.

As I continued to fine-tune the articulation and dynamics, the music became richer and richer. Which seduced me into listening even more deeply . . . which revealed further possibilities . . .

Well, you get the idea. It’s a delightful cycle of deepening involvement and pleasure, one I know well.

And after a hum-drum start today, when it came time to end my session, it was hard to stop playing!


I had this thought after today’s session: As I play, I listen to the music as it emanates from the piano. That’s obvious. But at the same time, I’m also listening (internally) to how I want the piece to sound.

So, in a sense, I’m listening in two directions at the same time.

And the goal is to get the external sound to match the internal model. When I’m playing well, the two streams meld into one. Then I’m in control. Then my playing is creative.

  1. Marsha permalink

    Yes, I understand what you mean. I am seriously listening too, when I play it. There are many things to hear. It is not like anything Beethoven wrote but it has its own charms and it can stand repeated listenings.

  2. Bruce Siegel permalink

    So glad you’re getting into this piece, Marsha. And listening!

  3. Eli permalink

    Well let’s hear it!

  4. Bruce Siegel permalink

    Eli, do you mean that you would have liked me to include a recording? Because I plan to do that with some of my posts and could still add an mp3 to this one.

    That is, if the crowd is clamoring for it. :)

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