• The Secret Books
    The Secret Books
    by Jorge Luis Borges, Sean Kernan
  • Among Trees
    Among Trees
Teaching and Lecturing
« Something new: A book from The Great Books | Main | Never did I think I'd photograph another book »

Video of a music class that has everything to do with photography

In classes and talks I invoke William Westney, particularly his Unmaster Class. In this class he works with talented music students to recover the vitality that can be obscured by training.

After visiting Bill's class I asked him to come to my photography class and work with us in the same way that he works with music students. The results are vibrating still.

Bill has posted a video of one of his exercises on his site, and it is quite amazing. He has the students play a piece. Then he has them set aside their instruments and simply speak_not sing but speak_the music. With no instruments they let go of the need to play the score perfectly, and they get to exagerate what the music is saying by acting it out.

Then they take up the instruments again, and when they play you can see that the piece is now a conversation between musicians, and not people playing parallel to one another.

The piece is at Go to the  Warmup; “air” string quartet (Mendelssohn) video (bottom of the page) and play it.

Reader Comments (2)

Hi Sean,
I would love to hear your inspiration for and attraction to this piece. In thinking about your article on Good Art, I'd like to hear your thoughts how it may change the viewer and stay with the viewer.
Having asked you those questions, I have to tell you I read this blog yesterday & came back to respond - so it stayed with me, but why?

January 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterEileen

I'm a little unclear, Eileen. By my attraction to "this piece" do you mean the video lesson? If so, I think it makes the point that musicians--and, by extension, photographers and all artists-- can get so caught up in correct rendering that we can lose sight of the emotional, the artistic, the moral effects of a piece.Easy enough to say, but I think this video demonstrates it in a direct way.
That said, I think that it is a rehearsal, not a final performance. But the way a difficult-to-pinpoint lesson can be made clear is what stayed with me the first time I saw Bill do it. So I was glad to have this demonstration.

January 11, 2008 | Registered CommenterSean Kernan

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>