Monday, May 07, 2007

What's the difference...

between an amateur and a professional?

That was a recurrent theme during T-'s last studio class.

An amateur practices until he gets it right.
A professional practices until she can't get it wrong.

It occurs to me that playing in an amateur orchestra fosters an amateur mindset towards preparing music.

A major benefit of playing in an orchestra is that the music stretches you, and can be an impetus for adding technical principal, fast. But the risk to this is that the requirements are often beyond what your "technique bank" can afford. Sometimes you can be seriously overdrawn. So you prepare as best you can, figure out the best way to "fake" it, actively engage your imagination to hear the music the way you want it to sound, even though it doesn't. Practice until you get it "right enough," then move on to the next challenge.

Some of my current angst over how I am playing is a side effect of having my ears opened to the sound I am actually producing. It's painful in my lessons, but so worthwhile. At least, I think it is. Might it be better to remain ignorant, enjoying my imaginary music? Sometimes, while I am practicing the orchestra music that is still beyond me, I wonder.


Funky Smith said...

Sort of like the difference between a talent and a genius.

In orchestra--just fake it. Just do as best you can and fake the rest. Unless you are principal, of course.

Maricello said...

Loved your comment on enjoying your imaginary music! Yes, I think we all imagine the sound we are producing to be so much more exquisite than it is, or mentally edit out the less than perfect parts. I know many amateur cellists who truly love playing the cello, despite what it may sound like to others. I have not seen such a love in players of other instruments, though I may be biased.

I do think some professionals might occasionally fake it, and are often very critical of their own playing.

Guanaco said...

Love the quote. I frequently hear it from my teacher.

Although orchestra is often a stretch, it is also a strong motivation to me to keep on working at it, to play better.

For my part, I am far too critical of my sound in spite of my teacher's comments to the contrary. I might be less frustrated if I did think I were playing better.

Gottagopractice said...

That's what I mean, funky smith. Playing in orchestra can foster a pervasive "just fake it" attitude, an entrance to the slippery slope of mediocrity.

Maricello, I've observed the same disproportional love of the 'cello. I still wonder why.

And yes, guanaco, that's a very good reason for playing in orchestra. Maybe try a little "imaginary music" <g>.