A Totally New Experience!
A couple of days ago, while searching the web for a tuba edition of the Schubert Serenade for a student, I encountered something quite unexpected.
I went to Google, entered “Schubert Serenade for Tuba” and the first thing listed was http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVYDaqafCGM. Big surprise, this was extraordinarily fine playing for a young girl between approximately 16 and 18, I first thought she must be a tubist from one of those extraordinary Japanese high school bands. The tone seemed very pure and focused for what appears to be a student model Yamaha BBb tuba, the vibrato is exactly what I like and the musicianship is evident especially for such a young player. Her name is Ayako (a beautiful name) and although I could point out a few musical and tubaistic issues, in general I would say her potential was formidable.
As I listened further I was flatterd that she had clearly listened closely to my recording of the same Schubert Serenade and had imitated it to every small detail; I began to get concerned that she really needed to develop her own musical identity. Very quickly, I noticed few strange things; she didn’t need to breath, her fingerings made no sense, and that the imperfections (very few and very small!) came at exactly the same places that I had made in my recording 26 years ago!
Clearly it was an excellent job of miming; she had obviously listened to my recording many times and thoroughly practiced the mime. This all was clear within only ten or twenty seconds; the first ten to see it was mime and the second ten to believe it!
My reaction was a combination of laughter and pride, an unusual combination! They say imitation is the highest form of flattery! I couldn’t help but think of all the times I have pulled all the shades in my house and secretly conducted Mahler symphonies to recordings of Zubin Mehta or Simon Rattle. Perhaps I should video that and put it on YouTube!
May 22, 2011, Tokyo