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About Listening

October 1, 2011

Great post here:

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/10/03/111003fa_fact_gawande?currentPage=all

Quoting from the article:

Coaching in pro sports proceeds from a starkly different premise: it considers the teaching model naïve about our human capacity for self-perfection. It holds that, no matter how well prepared people are in their formative years, few can achieve and maintain their best performance on their own. One of these views, it seemed to me, had to be wrong. So I called Itzhak Perlman to find out what he thought.

I asked him why concert violinists didn’t have coaches, the way top athletes did. He said that he didn’t know, but that it had always seemed a mistake to him. He had enjoyed the services of a coach all along.

He had a coach? “I was very, very lucky,” Perlman said. His wife, Toby, whom he’d known at Juilliard, was a concert-level violinist, and he’d relied on her for the past forty years. “The great challenge in performing is listening to yourself,” he said. “Your physicality, the sensation that you have as you play the violin, interferes with your accuracy of listening.” What violinists perceive is often quite different from what audiences perceive.

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I would emphasize the last sentence…”what [the musician perceives] is often quite different from what audiences perceive.” That’s the entire problem — you can’t get outside of your self to reflect on what sounds you’re making. I think Coltrane talked about this.

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