I (David) am thankful for a piano teacher I had in my years of musical development, Gladys Ives Brainard. She was a retired professor from Lawrence University in Appleton, WI. She was so very hard on me and insistent that I could do better. It wasn’t for her comfort or pleasure that she pushed me. It was because she knew I could succeed. But she knew I needed someone to make sure it happened. Of course, in many lessons, I wasn’t thankful…at all, but as life unfolded, I understood. The lessons she taught me helped shape my life and project me forward with the confidence to persevere. Thank you, Miss Brainard. You were one of the most significant people in my life. _____________________________________________________
What creates a musical performance? The correct notes? Playing with “feeling”? Dynamic variation? The proper tempo?
In a discussion with a colleague recently we were discussing that age-old question of a musical performance. I take the liberty of sharing some of his thoughts in regard to Abby Whiteside’s teaching of the mid-1950’s and 60’s.
The concept of an overall propelling rhythm MUST be there to carry us through. Whiteside’s use of the word “rhythm” in that context meant a palpable feeling of forward movement in the music. Some performers try to get someplace with nothing but notes, which is like someone trying to speak without breath behind each spoken phrase. We can shape the syllables with our lips, but without the breath coming through vocal cords, there is only silence. Whiteside’s use of the word rhythm means the breath that impels the forward movement of the music.”
To quote Ms. Whiteside: “Put a rhythm in your body and keep it going.” A lesson for every teacher, student, and performer.