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Seek Content in Your Pieces


A young girl came to me not long since, who had received thorough technical training, and who was in many ways an excellent player, but who was becoming a trial to her relatives “because she would n’t practice.” In our first lesson together we tried several things which were well read, the technical difficulties easily surmounted, but without the least regard to marks of expression, phrasing, or the intent of the several pieces.

Finally, I asked, “What do you think this piece means? “She looked at me with a puzzled air.

“Mean?” she repeated, glancing at the notes, the keyboard, and then toward myself.

“Why, yes,” I replied. “Of course you know every piece that is really good has some particular thought to convey?”

“I never heard of it before!” she answered, a bright flush rising in her cheeks.

Upon that I chose one of Schumann’s little pieces from his “Album for the Young,” analyzing each phrase, and having her clearly understand the meaning to be brought out. Then sending her to the opposite side of the room, so that she might hear and not see, I played the composition through.

At its conclusion she came to the piano, her eyes shining and delight showing in her voice, “Oh, I did not know music was like that!”

Think of all this girl has missed! Is it any wonder she did not like to practice? Since the first experience there have been no more messages of like sort from her people. She applies herself to technical difficulties in order that she may grasp the inner thought. She has “waked up.”


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You are reading Seek Content in Your Pieces from the July, 1898 issue of The Etude Magazine.

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