Aquiles Delle Vigne
Trading in students, and snipers
(Article on Cadencia Music, Spain)
Freedom, a value that cost so much blood and so many tears, must be won every day. When establishing the limits in our social, artistic and human relations, we are constantly called on to reflect more deeply on what freedom must, but at the same time what it can, generate in the depths of its essence.
Unfortunately, while everyday we fight, paradoxically we see evidence and demonstrations of acts of great moral violence which proves to us that though time passes and things change externally, men and tyrants continue to disguised themselves as lambs.
Music as “the maximum expression of all philosophy”, according to Beethoven, should “tame the savage and wild beasts”.
Music, the hymn of fraternity among men and a synonym of the superiority of human beings, capable of bringing together the spirit of mathematics and physical training, should allow us to free the feelings of Nobility, Goodness and Friendship.
Teaching, teaching music, should be a labour of Love, as it deals in transmitting Important Vibrations to the generations thus shortening the distance between God and his creation.
In other words, this is a divine benediction which allows us to change ourselves, be it only for a few instants, from Men and Women into Demigods, i.e. raise ourselves a little above the state of “beasts” and to taste the Eternity of fundamental Values, at least as occasional visionaries.
Also Truth, like Freedom, must be conquered each day, in order to protect Ethics and Morals in their totality from hypocrisy and deception.
So like Freedom, Truth does not “belong” to us, until those times when it is revealed to us in life. God speaks to each of us, from time to time, in the shape of symbols, illumination or inspiration.
To all and not to one alone.
This truth must be shared, offered and conserved as an essential value.
To alter its concept or expression would mean betrayal.
This Truth, with Freedom, must be the base of how Music is taught, there will of course be more than one fingering, types of gesture and concepts of style.
Lessons on technical training, the development of musical training and all the rest that makes up the base of teaching, is paid for in a natural way with money, because professors need to live too.
The only way “other lessons”, such as shared Truth, demonstrated Morals and religious behaviour when in front of Art or the Artist, can be paid is with silence, respect and gratitude, not with gold coin.
In this way we teach to be and not to do.
These lessons belong to the ideals of our life, not to our everyday lives.
The best lesson we can teach our pupils, is the how to find the road toward freedom, to the point that they can free themselves from our influence and have reached Truth. Until they are no longer constantly, totally or even partially dependent on their master or professor.
We must make every possible effort so that our pupil knows how to think for himself and does not become our slave.
He or she must, thus, share our Friendship and become “unique”, “authentic” and “him” or “herself”. After the first few years he or she must overcome the concepts of artistic or pedagogic “subservience” and “slavery”.
Our students do not “belong” to us. We cannot keep and control them as if they were our slaves or we controlled them through an addiction.
We must teach them to be independent from us. We must avoid trying to condition their freedom of thought. And even more basely, we must not hold over them the threat of exams or national or international competitions and in the same way, we must not create false illusions as regards our “support” for their administrative and bureaucratic career in the future.
No one has the behave like God and decide on a the life or death of a student, projecting on the student in one or another one’s lack of pedagogic success or neuroses.
No one has the right to look for his or her “reflection” in their students, nor have they the right to deny their pedagogic or artistic responsibilities and also socially only because their life has not been that great.
Our students are human beings that must grow up free, without having to beg, and they can be neither “sold” nor “commercialized” at our pleasure.
We must teach them that we are not God and that they are as free as when they were born.
That they know.
We are not there to form sects, above all because these sects would be formed for and of the morally weakest of the pupils, the mediocre, those without nothing personal to contribute and who can only repeat the less important things as parrots do.
This because they cannot free themselves and they have become docile slaves.
And when they become older, because they would continue to live in the shadow of the details and the superficiality that are only the exterior of the real teaching.
They are those who systematically attack their colleagues with poison darts, work to create ambushes. Poor souls! Their darts fall harmlessly from armour! They live so deep in shadow that we find getting close to them deplorable.
They are the ones who will never be anything but pupils, because the culture is only “repeat, imitate”, “do like this…” instead of thinking, reflecting and being a real disciple “continuing to develop and not simply repeating”.
Genius is unique. Only the mediocre and imitators must copy.
It is difficult to be a disciple of a Great Artist and only copy. The only thing you can copy are his manias and caprices, because his genius is unique and irreparable, and it cannot be copied.
This is why we have to teach them to be themselves, to become, to be authentic suffering and searching with them and our own very limited resources.
Teaching means that at one and the same time one must create at each lesson and not repeat the same stupidities hundreds of times, bureaucratically.
Teaching is an infinite series of variations, like le Goldberg, on top of a single theme: love, freedom and constant development.
Anton Rubinstein used to tell Joseph Hoffmann, his best disciple, as he came into his next lesson to play the same piece, “… but, I’ve already done the lesson on that work…” Hoffmann answered, “Master, I want to see if I am doing everything you taught me”. And then very intelligently Rubinstein would come back with, “… Yes, but I’ve already changed. I can’t remember what I told you last week, in fact, I’m looking for new explanations …, perhaps everything I tell you will be the opposite of last time”. What a great lesson!
All great artists are evolving continuously, while those who train imitators keep their pupils from making any progress.
At any rate, it is better to become an authentic but original “beggar’s parrot” than to be a ridiculous and tragic copy of a great artist.
Our pupils are human beings who come to us to receive the best of that which is highest and most noble transmitted to us by our masters, their great lessons of love.
To give them anything else is dishonourable and base.
To oblige them to depend from our orbit is to degenerate the ideal of the pedagogue’s life into a weapon for commercial exploitation. If this were true, it would be a clear signal of our total lack of personal success, as musicians and as human beings.
However, thank goodness, among the many briers and much discord, one not infrequently runs into precious treasure.