The new Warehouse


Later in his life Wieck published a book entitled Piano and Song: How to Teach, How To Learn, and How to Form a Judgment of Musical Performances. His methods appear progressive, flexible, nuanced, emphasizing the individuality of the student and leading the student on by means of the enjoyment of music-making rather than harsh discipline and drills. In practice, however, he might not always have lived up to his ideals. When Robert Schumann was living and studying in the Wieck household, he reported seeing Wieck punishing his nine-year-old son, Alwyn, for playing the violin poorly, tearing at his hair and yelling, “You wretch, you scoundrel, is this the way you try to please your father?” Clara seemed unconcerned at the violent scene. Shocked, Schumann wrote in his diary, “Am I among human beings?”[11]

For Wieck, mere finger dexterity was not the focus, and he did not advocate monotonous, mechanical exercises. He emphasized evenness of tone, a beautiful, song-like legato, and expressiveness. While including finger-stretching exercises to increase the student’s span, he was careful to avoid fatigue by limiting the number of hours of practice per day and insisting on long walks and fresh air. Overall musical development was essential, achieved by lessons in theory, counterpoint and composition, and regular exposure to the best possible musical performances.[12

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