The Magic of Amateur Musicians

Janet Horvath_019#2 4x5Guest Blogger: Janet Horvath is the author of Playing Less Hurt. Below is a post she did for her blog on Interlude.

We professionals rarely, if ever read through music for fun. We are too busy preparing music. I avoid sight-reading, if I can. I am a professional musician after all! I take pride in preparation, precision and perfection. I delve beyond the mere notes on the page to reach the heady heights of interpretation with the ultimate goal of a thoughtful, insightful performance. Besides, we judgmental professionals only play in front of others, especially other colleagues, when we are certain that our playing will be impeccable.

My colleagues and I go through mountains of music. Our concentration, our emotions and our physiological abilities are taxed to the limit and we push our bodies physically sometimes to the breaking point. We agonize over every note and every phrase. We analyze each nuance to attain the ultimate interpretation of the music at hand. I’ve always thought this was essential for music-making, that is until I had the privilege of experiencing the Magic of Amateurs.

Each year for the last sixty years, hundreds of avid chamber music aficionados from far and wide have gathered for intensive chamber music playing at the Chamber Music Conference and Composer’s Forum of the East in Bennington, Vermont. These are amateur musicians, many of whom are quite accomplished players, who ultimately chose other careers and whose great passion in life is to make music.

Not a moment is wasted. They eagerly race from building to building and room to room, instruments in hand, choosing from the vast library of chamber music on hand arranged alphabetically, in large Tupperware containers spread across a huge hallway organized by size and instrumentation of the group—virtually everything for two to 10 players. The musicians read music from morning until night with nary a breath taken.

As guest faculty and lecturer I was invited to present my injury prevention seminar—Playing (Less) Hurt, coaching individuals who may have technical issues or issues of discomfort. I also was to post my “dance card” allowing the attendees to sign up to play chamber music with me. “Sure,” I’d said, “I’d be happy to play a few things.…” after all I too am passionate about chamber music. Little did I know what was in store for me.

Keep reading this article on Interlude!

Playing Less Hurt

Making music at any level is a powerful gift. While musicians have endless resources for learning the basics of their instruments and the theory of music, few books have explored the other subtleties and complexities that musicians face in their quest to play with ease and skill. The demands of solitary practice, hectic rehearsal schedules, challenging repertoire, performance pressures, awkward postures, and other physical strains have left a trail of injured, hearing-impaired, and frustrated musicians who have had few resources to guide them.

Playing Less Hurt addresses this need with specific tools to avoid and alleviate injury. Impressively researched, the book is invaluable not only to musicians, but also to the coaches and medical professionals who work with them. Everyone from dentists to orthopedists, audiologists to neurologists, massage therapists and trainers will benefit from Janet Horvath’s coherent account of the physiology and psyche of a practicing musician. Writing with knowledge, sympathetic insight, humor, and aplomb, Horvath has created an essential resource for all musicians who want to play better and feel better.



Hal Leonard Performing Arts Publishing Group, the trade book division of Hal Leonard Corporations, publishes books on the performing arts under the imprints Hal Leonard Books, Backbeat Books, Amadeus Press, and Applause Theatre and Cinema Books.

Posted on February 20, 2013, in Classical & Opera, Music Fans and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: