In this luminous book, Tricia Tunstall explores the enduring fascination of the piano lesson. Even as everything else about the world of music changes, the piano lesson retains its appeal. Drawing on her own lifelong experience as a student and teacher, Tunstall writes about the mysteries and delights of piano teaching and learning. What is it that happens in a piano lesson to make it such a durable ritual? In a world where music is heard more often on the telephone and in the elevator than in the concert hall, why does the piano lesson still have meaning in the lives of children? What does it matter whether one more child learns to play Bach's Minuet in G?
Note by Note is in part a memoir in which Tunstall recalls her own childhood piano teachers and their influence. As she observes, the piano lesson is unlike the experience of being coached on an athletic team or taught in a classroom, in that it is a one-on-one, personal communication. Physically proximate, mutually concentrating on the transfer of a skill that is often arduous, complicated and frustrating, teacher and student occasionally experience breakthroughs-moments of joy when the student has learned something, mastered a musical passage or expressed a feeling through music. The relationship is not only one-way: teaching the piano is a lifelong endeavor of particular intensity and power.
Anyone who has ever studied the piano-or wanted to-will cherish this gem of a book.
For readers who possess the mildest interest in reading about music or how the mysterious process of learning to play a musical instrument is transferred from teacher to student, this well-composed narrative will be a joy to read. Those so inclined will undoubtedly revel in Tunstall's elegant prose based on her 15 years as a private music teacher. She offers graceful discussions of tonal music, how the pull of pop music has altered the musical environment and why the astonishingly hardy phenomenon of the recital endures in our culture. But for those tempted to dismiss this slim volume because they've never had a music lesson or read a score, this too short memoir offers a rare glimpse into a fascinating world. Tunstall cites her students, the endlessly interesting and varied young people who have sat on my piano bench for six days a week for many years, as the inspiration for the story. She weaves together her insights into the role music plays in the development of self, why teaching kids how to practice is a central preoccupation for piano teachers and what advanced piano students have discovered about themselves. This is a gem that deserves a wide audience. (Apr.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
"An elegant, unforgettable homage to the piano lesson and the often mysterious relationship of teacher and student." -- Booklist (starred review)
"This surprisingly moving meditation on learning comes from a veteran piano teacher, who explains the process in such stylish prose that even musically inept readers will be charmed.... A stirring account of teaching's rewards." -- Jonathan Durbin, People
"A joy to read.... This too short memoir offers a rare glimpse into a fascinating world.... A gem that deserves a wide audience." -- Publishers Weekly (starred review)