What to apply to “applied music”

My Twitter feed this morning brought up Strad article by David Watkins from a few years ago that claimed performers can’t understand the meaning of a piece if they don’t understand the theory behind it. Since most cello teaching focuses on solo, melodic repertoire, Watkins writes, cellists often don’t know or don’t understand how to accompany.

I couldn’t agree more.

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Recordings, structure, and learning

Most teachers discourage students from playing along with recordings when they’re learning repertoire. Why?

I expect the thinking is that students doing this will copy the dynamics, articulations, phrasings, bowings and so on of a favourite recording, and never become independent interpreters. Or perhaps they won’t learn to cue and respond flexibly to the cues of others? I could imagine that this might be bad if you were a conductor, but I’m actually not sure what the argument against it is for an instrumentalist.

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