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without any guidance at all. Where the teacher finds it necessary to suggest an alteration in the reading, reasons should always be given. But alterations should be made as little as possible, so that the pupil is allowed to develop his individuality, and to make the fullest use of his musical sensibilities. Individuality, however, must not be permitted to degenerate into mere eccentricity ; the teacher must be continually guiding, and when necessary must exercise a restraining influence. Youthful students with considerable natural gifts can generally be relied on to give interesting renderings of pieces, but their very youthfulness tends very often to lead them into exaggerations, and it is here that the teacher has to step in. At the same time, care is needed not to antagonise the pupil by apparently capricious changes. As stated above, reasons must be given-the pupil must be shown why what he has been doing is undesirable or inartistic. In this way his musical feeling can be gradually made finer and more truly artistic.

With regard to technique, one is safe in giving really musical pupils a good deal of mechanical work to do, but it must not be done mechanically. The better a player's technique, and the more command he has of his instrument, the better he is able to express himself in his renderings. It is a regrettably common fallacy to believe that a person can perform really musically, and yet lack a thoroughly comprehensive technical equipment. Such lack leads to one of two things. Either the performer is so intent on getting a reasonably accurate rendering that he has little time to think of the actual interpretation, or else he concentrates on interpretation at the expense of accuracy, and the result is a mass of wrong notes, &c., which is equally offensive to the ear of the listener. Moreover, it must be realised that "technique " does not imply merely mechanical facility and agility, but includes, among other things, control of tone production in every kind of passage. So that, however accurate the playing of a piece of music may be in respect of notes, and however fluently it may be rendered, bad tone will completely spoil it for the musical listener.

Another common fallacy is that the study of technique pure and simple tends to deaden musicianship. This would be true if students were made to work at nothing but technical exercises, and to avoid entirely work calculated to develop musical feeling. Such a method of study is so obviously ridiculous that nobody would ever attempt to carry it out. But there are teachers who seem to think that even a moderate amount of purely technical work, in the form of mechanical exercises, is undesirable, and who apparently expect their pupils to pick up technical ability almost casually from their pieces. Such a method might almost be compared to expecting a child to learn to read by merely giving him books, without first teaching him the alphabet. To obtain mechanical ability of any sort, it is essential to study it by itself, without other matters to distract the mind. When facility in performing any given mechanical process is attained, it can be applied when desired in pieces, plus a good interpretation The careful and thoughtful practice of what are called technical exercises, together with scales, arpeggios and " studies " is essential, and the better the

To be continued

 

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