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Thomas J. West Music

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Quote Of The Day: Beethoven - To Play Without Passion Is Inexcusable

Posted on May 6, 2015 at 1:05 PM

To play a wrong note is insignificant; to play without passion is inexcusable. - Beethoven

This week, I was in the audience for a middle school choral concert at another school. The selections performed with pedagogically sound, technically appropriate for the students' skill levels, and entertaining for both the students and the general audience. The pieces were well-rehearsed and perforned with confidence, with only minor pitch and tone discrepancies.


The performance was also practically devoid of emotion. Despite some attempts at dynamics in a few places, the performance was not engaging. It was " mce_src="/>

This week, I was in the audience for a middle school choral concert at another school. The selections performed with pedagogically sound, technically appropriate for the students' skill levels, and entertaining for both the students and the general audience. The pieces were well-rehearsed and perforned with confidence, with only minor pitch and tone discrepancies.


The performance was also practically devoid of emotion. Despite some attempts at dynamics in a few places, the performance was not engaging. It was "perfectly ordinary." 


Admittedly, trying to get middle school students to perform with any kind of focus is a challenge. The only thing consistent about middle school students is their inconsistency. Despite this, middle school students are capable of communicating effectively as performers given the right guidance and encouragement.


When preparing for a concert, I always tell my students that they have to have their parts mastered at least a week ahead of concert time so that we have a week of rehearsals where we focus on delivering the emotional content of the music. I often encourage them to take advantage of the opportunity to perform something extraordinary. That "peak experience" when all the parts add together into a greater whole is something that only happens when everyone strives for that level of expression.


Get the technique and the timing down so that you have room to communicate and make the music a human expression.



This article (c) 2015 Thomas J. West. All content on ThomasJWestMusic dot com is licensed under a Creative Contributions Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 License. Please contact the author before publishing on or off-line.

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Categories: Quotes, Orchestra

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