Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Why, according to me: an introduction

In my article, Dear Harpsichordists, Why Don’t We Play From Memory?, I stated that the main reason I returned to memorization practice was that I had felt that, by playing with music, I had never truly learned my programs. I then highlighted a few of the nice things that come with working from memory:
  • lighting is no longer an issue;
  • pager turns are no longer an issue;
  • I make better repertoire choices (i.e., having to commit something to memory makes one think a lot harder about what one decides to learn);
  • phrasing is better, and interpretations are more personal.
After publishing the article, harpsichord builder Allan Winkler pointed out that I should have said that I could hear this instrument better without the music desk blocking the sound. He's absolutely right.

All of these comments were true then, and they're still true for me today. I didn't get much feedback from that article, but one well-known harpsichordist wrote me to say that, "Every time I hear a harpsichordist play from memory, the playing sounds as if it's from the 50's." I was tempted to reply, "What? You mean accurate and consistent?"

Without getting into why one would think that memorized playing sounds like "something from the 50's," I'd like to suggest a few more reasons that have come up since I wrote that article...and I'll do that in my next post.