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Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Pupil - Donald Justice

Picture me,the shy pupil at the door,
One small, tight fist clutching the dread Czerny.
Back then time was still harmony, not money,
And I could spend a whole week practicing for
That moment on the threshold.
                                               Then to take courage,
And enter, and pass among mysterious scents,
And sit quite straight, and with a frail confidence
Assault the keyboard with a childish flourish!

Only to lose my place, or forget the key,
And almost doubt the very metronome
(Outside, the traffic, the laborers going home),
And still to bear on across Chopin or Brahms,
Stupid and wild with love equally for the storms
Of C# minor and the calms of C.



This poem, more than any other I  have read, captures the anxiety and magic of being a young student of music.  Nothing more dreaded than the exercise book (here Czerny, for me, the brass player, Arban), nothing more stressful than playing a piece for review, nothing more magical than the music of the masters.  "Stupid and wild" is a good way to describe most music students.  I hope that I can remember that same enthusiasm, and to instill it into my own students.

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