October 22, 2018

Time Matters

Time is a central motif in music, not only in composing and interpretation but also in developing musical competence. Tomoko has several insights about various aspects of time within the construct of music.

A key element in music compositions is timing; the notes and measures impact the pace, the rhythm, the tone, and even the physical playing of that composition. Most composers also indicate timing in their pieces textual (such as largo versus presto). This latter timing element is somewhat open to interpretation, and is reflected in different treatments by the performer. Glenn Gould is particularly noted for his unique interpretations, which included variations in timing.

Timing can also be applied to learning how to play the piano. Tomoko asserts that “you can start learning how to play the piano at any age.” However, she does suggest that a good time for children to start is five years old because fine motor coordination usually develops between ages 5 and 7. On the other hand, it is good for the beginning student to be mature enough to read music, and have some cognitive and emotional development. At the same time, Tomoko very much enjoys adult learners: “They bring experience, self-motivation, and musical appreciation.”

Tomoko also believes that timing affects performance. “I do not like proteges; they may have the technique but they seldom have the experience to interpret the piece deeply.” Tomoko is also concerned that children who perform the piano professionally are exploited to some degree. “You need to have a balanced life as you are growing up,” she says. “It is better to delay professional competition and performance until you are an adult.”

Tomoko also chooses piano pieces based on developmental timing. “Mozart can be easy for children but hard for adults,” she asserts. “Because Mozart was first a performer, he wrote music aht is natural to play.” She cautions, “However, Mozart was also a super mathematician and used musical numerology, so he can be very complex.”

Tomoko also notes the amount of time that one should devote to practicing the piano. “You should practice every day, at least one solid hour. Don’t move from the piano bench,” she counsels. “A second hour each day is also good, but you can break it a bit.”

Tomoko realizes that there can be a time for silence. “At some point you might feel depressed and not way to play or hear music. You have to be quiet.” That can be a good time to be quiet in nature, to feel the rhythm of life. It has its own timing.

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