Wednesday, December 6, 2006

While Watching TV

Just a thought.

Perhaps you caught 60 Minutes on TV Sunday night when
they did a feature on the classical pianist Gabriela
Montero. It's always interesting to me when a part of
mainstream media does a piece on a more esoteric part
of the culture. I sit back and ask myself, "what part
of this phenomenon are they going to try to sell me?"

Didn't have to wait very long. The thing that stuck
with me with the piece was they were portraying her as
someone "controversial." Why? Because she
(occasionally) improvises on the piano. Oh, the horror.

But that reflects on the culture too, doesn't it? The
enforcers of what is proper in classical music have
established the edict demonizing improvisation. Even
though Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven improvised, modern
day pianists are prohibited from it.

So what does this mean? In order for a modern day
classical musician to be deemed worthy, they are
prohibited from being creative? Do we live in an insane
world or not?

I come face to face with this mindset all the time,
from the upper echelon music critics to the common
everyday piano teacher. But you know what's cool? It
isn't universal. In fact, I don't even think they are a
majority anymore.

So let's give praise to Gabriela Montero and to all
piano teachers who feel that success at the piano is
more than just playing with overwhelming precision what
someone else has written a few hundred years earlier.