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Individuality and Spontaneity in Musical Expression


There is no more hopeful indication of musical progress in America than the evidence of increasing effort on the part of the most thoughtful teachers toward developing the minds of their pupils along lines of individual and conceptual expression.

Earnest teachers are not satisfied that their pupils shall play with mere effect. They desire and carefully labor for more than this. The thing beyond this which they seek is the certainty of a habit of thinking music, and thinking it clearly and vividly. The pupil who has this attainment gathers clear impressions from the music page in the very first survey of it. Little time pictures, tune pictures, chord pictures, and whole stories are presented to his eye and mind by means of the characters on the page. Thus in a very short period of practice he gains something for the mind, as well as for the fingers and hand. This which the mind now possesses is a picture which becomes more or less real, and filled with living impulse in proportion to the thoughtfulness and earnestness of the pupil.

Individuality and spontaneity in expression come from this conceptive habit of study and practice. The mind and heart which are full of fine conceptions must and will seek utterance, and the very fact that they are full impels the utterance and gives spontaneity.

How shall our piano-playing become less conventional, more individual, more characteristic, more spontaneous? Is it not necessary to train students more thoroughly into scholarly habits? Is it not needful that the teacher should more and more impress on their minds the need of knowing and being as well as doing?

Under the influence of such instruction we may well hope that our pupils shall attain playing ability which shall show individuality and spontaneity in their most pleasing and satisfying manifestations. Intellectuality, conviction, and character form the foundation of temperament, individuality, and spontaneity in expression.


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You are reading Individuality and Spontaneity in Musical Expression from the July, 1898 issue of The Etude Magazine.

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