One thing that lessons alone cannot instill is the concert experience. By this, we mean going to concerts and hearing professionals. Seattle is a major city. Those who have lived here for some time may take this for granted, and may not appreciate the fact that there aren’t that many major cities in the country. It may not be as big or as impressive as New York, culturally speaking. However, it is still on the list of many world-famous artists who tour the globe. If you lived in Sioux Falls, Iowa, you probably wouldn’t have the luxury to hear Yefim Bronfman perform Prokofiev’s second Piano Concerto with orchestra. Concerts like that happen all the time in Seattle.
Experiencing great artists in great venues, not just once, but all the time, changes the student. When one is exposed to high art, perceptions are changed. Because of this, “piano lessons for fun” can begin to change to “artistry and faithfulness to the masterworks.” Think about that for a moment.
Even if it is not the top touring artists of the world, regular concert attendance will change the student and build ambition, the desire to do better, or make an impression about a particular moment or piece of music. If only music lessons take place, with no outside stimulus, how is it one can know what it is that he or she is trying to do? We all, even teachers and other performers, need to go to concerts to be motivated and fueled. It’s also important to listen at home as often as is possible, whether to radio, your own iTunes collection, library DVD’s, or even YouTube. (Although anything can be on YouTube, whether good or bad … you have been warned!)
It may not immediately sound like the most exciting thing to do after a long day of work, and so little time but a few hours on the weekend to relax at home, but it represents a huge future investment. Another related thing to think about: Why is concert attendance of paramount importance? To this, we answer the following: Without concerts, there would be no music. Without a practice of performance art, it invalidates everything we as students and teachers do. For the future of the art, we must support it, which means attending performances. If there were only people learning to play the piano or the violin, and no one went to concerts, all the hours we spend practicing would cease to make any kind of sense, being at best a nonsensical historical reenactment.
This is not why we do music. Music makes us more human, allows us to grow creatively, spiritually, and mentally, and nearly everyone on the planet participates in some form of music. To participate, for us, it means to attend classical concerts regularly, and to hear what great artists can give to us while they are still alive to give it. Some of the most memorable moments of peoples’ lives include that one time they may have heard a great artist and were moved by a particular moment.
Our own faculty perform as well. Ask your teacher, or look on the event list or calendar of the CAM for details. Here are some useful places to look for concerts:
* Our own CAM directors are also organizers of the Seattle International Piano Festival and Competition, which hosts great international talent from around the globe as well as numerous local festivals in which your child can participate. http://www.seattlepianocompetition.org
* The annual piano series at the UW in Meany Hall features top talent. The featured performers of the 2012-13 season include Hélène Grimaud, Christopher O’Riley, Khatia Buniatishvili, Daniil Trifonov, and Jon Kimura Parker. http://uwworldseries.org/presidents-piano/
* The Seattle Symphony at Benaroya Hall presents outstanding concerts, and often invites world-class piano and violin soloists. Check their schedule on their website. Notable performances include pianist, András Schiff, performing the Well-Tempered Clavier of Bach on October 15, violinist, Gil Shaham, performing Mozart with the Symphony on October 25, Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto with violinist, Arabella Steinbacher, on Nov 1-3, pianist Jonathan Biss and Beethoven’s Concerto No. 5 on Nov 8, 10, and 11, pianist Emanuel Ax and Brahms Concerto No. 2 on Nov 15, 17, and 18, and much more. http://www.seattlesymphony.org/symphony/