Saturday, December 21, 2013

Instant or Expresso?

I was chatting with a barista earlier this week who was telling me that he was going to have to close down his cafe :(    He said that within a 5k radius a number of new cafes had opened and that as a result his sales had declined.  I tried to assure him that while there were new cafes propping up that their coffee was not of the standard of his .... the reason why I pass two cafes to get a coffee from him.

This got me thinking...

When my boys were very little I travelled to Yeronga (a 30 minute drive to the other side of town), so that they could be taught swimming by a lady who coached children of all ages and levels.  The reason? She specialised in teaching children, taught them individually,  building their confidence in and out of the water.

Currently, I am taking one of my sons to trampolining at Redcliffe (a 45 minute drive north), as he loves the sport and the tuition is in very small groups and of a high standard.

When something is of good quality there is no compromise.

It seems, however, that with the busy lives we all live, many opt for convenience over quality.  Getting their coffee fix from the closest cafe so as to save a precious 5 minutes on the way to work.  Do we use this saved time?  Do we forget the richness of the finer coffee bean, the experienced extraction, the genuine chat?

Life moves at such a busy pace that some even resort to instant coffee!!  No conversation, just passive osmosis from the (probably commercial) television.  Is this a good use of that 5 minutes saved?

The freshly ground bean prepared with experience and love results in not only a inescapable aroma, but a smooth, drink that is enjoyed every time it is sipped.  Regardless of how many times it is made the barista makes each cup as enjoyable as the last.

Music too must be prepared with experience and love so that when the piece is mastered it evokes a feeling, an expression, a statement, by both the performer and the listener.  The student must be gently guided to see more than the notes on the page.  To understand, and therefore demonstrate, how the dynamics and phrasing can completely change everything they play; how different interpretations can bring different shades to a performance.  They need to be taught to think about what they are playing choosing composers and styles that they enjoy and understand.

Students must be taught to mature past the mindless repetition of notes to get to the end of the piece or to get through the next exam.   If not their lessons becomes more like the instant coffee fix that requires no guidance or expertise to prepare.  The student practices aimlessly without changing the way the music is played smothering the life of a piece.  They go through the motions of playing between lessons but forget the purpose or enjoyment that can be gained from employing a well guided phrase or dynamic marking.

I would like to think that I encourage the  'expresso' over the 'instant' approach.  The latter is sadly experienced by many who have no concept that there is anything else.  They are so caught up living their lives of convenience, that the true experience of living is completely watered down and often missed... music that is never appreciated or shared, let alone played well.

Have a think next time you have a coffee!!