March 2, 2016

Mutual Responsibility

Learning to play the piano, and performing, depend to a great degree on responsibility: to one’s self, to one’s teacher, to one’s relatives and friends, to one’s peers, to the composer, and to the audience.
The first responsibility is to one’s self. “I interview every student before I decide to accept being that person’s teacher,” says Tomoko. Does that person want to learn? Do they seem like to want to make the effort? She continues, “If you say you are going to take lessons, you are taking on the responsibility onto yourself; it is not your parents’ responsibility.”

Especially if a parent pays for the lessons or buys the piano, that person expects that the learner will honor that parent’s support. “You are responsible for your own progress,” asserts Tomoko. “It is up to you to make sure that you practice every day, with conscious intent.” Tomoko knows that such responsibility can be hard, especially when there is a difficult part of the piece. “Be steadfast, and think step by step,” advises Tomoko, “rather than looking at the mountain top, and feeling overwhelmed.” 

“It is also your responsibility to tell the teacher when you have problems with a piece,” says Tomoko. “That is the teacher’s responsibility. She has the expertise to know where the potential stumbling blocks are, and how to overcome them.” The teacher and the student are on the same “team,” working together responsibly to help the student master the piece. 

At a recital, one’s peers also depend on each other to perform to the best of their ability, and to support each other’s efforts. That is acting as a responsible performer, and that responsibility extends to the audience, in that the performer is responsible for trying to provide an enjoyable musical experience. "The audience also has a responsibility to be respectful of the performer," reminds Tomoko, "The performer cannot control how they feel."

And, in the final analysis, there is a responsibility to the composer: to play according to the intent of the composer, to respect his or her musical creation. 

It sounds – and is – a lot of responsibility, but one grows from such responsibility, and can be proud of their efforts. "Responsibility is a very important human value," concludes Tomoko.

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