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In a long conversation with Ernesto Consolo, the eminent pianist and instructor, many points of vital importance to the player and teacher were touched upon. Among other things Mr. Consolo said.
"It is absolutely necessary that the piano teacher should take his profession very seriously. In my opinion there is most excellent instruction to be secured right here in America, with such teachers as are willing to take their work seriously. The time is not far away, I think, when America will enjoy a very prominent position in the matter of musical instruction, and perhaps lead the world in musical advantages. The time is not here just yet, but it is surely coming. You are still young in this country, though you are wonderfully progressive.
"If I have spoken of the serious aims of many teachers of piano, I cannot say as much for the students: they are often superficial and want to go too quickly; they are apt to be in a hurry and want to make a show, without being willing to spend the necessary years on preparation. No art can be hurried. Students of painting, sculpture, architecture or music must all learn the technique of their art; they must all learn to go deep into the mysteries and master technic as the means to the end, and no one requires exhaustive preparation more than the executive musician. The person who would fence, box or play baseball must know the technic of these things; how much more must the pianist be master of the technique of his instrument if he would bring out the best results.
"At the very bottom and heart of this subject of mastery lies Concentration: without that, little of value can be accomplished. Students think if they sit at the piano and 'practise' a certain number of hours daily, it is sufficient. A small portion of that time, if used with intense concentration, will accomplish more. One player will take hours to learn a page or a passage which another will master in a fraction of the time. What is the difference? It may be said one has greater intelligence than the other. The greater the intelligence, the stronger the power of concentration.
"If a pupil comes to me whose powers of concentration have not been awakened or developed, I sometimes give him music to read over very slowly, so slowly that every note, phrase and finger mark can be distinctly seen. Not being used to thinking intently, mistakes occur, in one hand or the other, showing that the mind was not sufficiently concentrated. It is the mind every time that wins. Without using our mental powers to their fullest extent we fail of the best that is in us.