Author: Emily Wright

it’s all in your mind

I teach 2 students who have memory issues. One is a charming retiree who is a formidable visual artist and has what I think of as a “leaky memory”. Every now and again, something will just sort of fall out of her brain, and I’ll have to re-teach whatever it was. These things are usually nuances of technique or other things that people with absolutely no diagnosed brain injuries also struggle with. She is a beginner with a background in piano. The other one is a man who played for 15 years and was in a catastrophic mountain biking accident a few years back. He has major short term memory issues along with some interesting logical and temporal distortion. It got me thinking about growing up around artists and academics. So many have some affectation like an accent that fades from northern to southern London over the course of a session, a bit of faux-dementia, or the odd repetitive compulsion. Good lord, have I sat next to some head cases in my symphonic experience. One woman I used to run into a lot had the personality of a bulldozer. Her goal was to mulch every cellist in the vicinity with the force of her presence and the volume of her voice to bolster a fragile ego. But that’s just her way, they say. We all know one steely-eyed, caustic...

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those who can’t do..

It’s been said that those who can’t do, teach. When it comes to music, I could not imagine a larger crock of crap. Teaching music requires that one can perform the skill at hand in demonstration, but also the ability to then articulate the salient points of technique and diagnose specific failures and a course of correction for each student.* Not all music teachers have this ability: in fact, there is another scandalous anecdote about great players not being great teachers. Perhaps the same genius who came up with the “those who can’t do” slogan penned that one, as well. I suppose my main frustration is with the way teachers are looked at in the scope of things. If we did not provide an essential service in the field of music, then we would never be employed. Yet, when we are called upon to teach, it is as if good string teachers are everywhere! Lurking behind shrubs, selling incense at Venice beach, loitering in front of that scary 7-11 on Cahuenga near Franklin. (I was not loitering. I was looking for my keys.) People constantly nickel and dime even established pedagogues, with the implication that their services could not possibly warrant the expense. Can you imagine trying to bargain with a heart surgeon? Would you go under the knife of someone who charges $2,000 O.B.O? Of course not. It’s...

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