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The musician´s ear

The ear is regarded as the musician´s principal resource. Research has shown that listening skills have a direct bearing on music perception and performance. The acclaimed piano pedagogue, Boris Berman[1] (2002:3) aptly mentioned that „you cannot refine your touch without refining your ear“.

Thus, by improving our listening skills, our performance can be enhanced. For this reason, various courses and training methods for aural development (ear training) have been developed in an endeavour to refine the musician´s ear. [2]

The key to improving our level of performance thus lies in the ability to optimally engage the ear in our daily practice sessions.  Boris Berman refers to two kinds of `musical ears´ – the `subjective ear´ and the `objective ear´. The subjective ear refers to the player´s image of the kind of sound he or she would like to produce. The objective ear refers to the musician´s ability to monitor the sound actually being produced.

As an aid to support the `objective ear´, we could make use of audio and video recording devices in our practice sessions. Optimal attentive listening in combination with optimal movement and breathing, can put us on track to optimize our performance. In the next section of this blog, the role of movement in performance, will be discussed.

[1] Berman, B. 2002 & 2018. Notes from the pianist´s bench. New Haven & London: Yale University Press.
[2] Gerber, A. 2008. Critical success factors in cello training – a comparative study. (Section1.3.3.2 – Aural development). Doctoral thesis. Goldsmiths College, University of London.

Anzel Gerber - cello teacher

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