“Seymour: An Introduction”: Inspiring Documentary for Piano Teachers

I’m already inspired by his teaching, and I haven’t even had a chance to see the film yet, just the trailers (waiting for it to arrive closer to home here in Gloucester). I did go immediately to the library to check out one of his books, With Your Own Two Hands: Self-Discovery Through Music. Also an inspiration. (Don’t go to Amazon to buy it, they’re hawking the books for hundreds of dollars, you can buy it from his publisher here.)

Ethan Hawke has made a documentary about Seymour Bernstein, a concert pianist who at the age of 50 gave up his concert career to focus on teaching. (See trailer below.)

When it came out I listened to an NPR podcast about the film. One of his students is playing very slowly a beautiful passage of music—I immediately recognized it, Brahms Intermezzo in A, Op. 118, No. 2—and Seymour instructs her: “Don’t let go of this E until it’s time to play it […] and then it’ll sound perfect.” I went right to the piano and took out the piece, and played it—only the melody, though—as he instructed. It was a revelation. And I had that Intermezzo in my head all day.

“‘The most important thing that music teachers can do for their pupils,’ says its octogenarian subject, ‘is to inspire and encourage an emotional response—not just for music but, more importantly, for all aspects of life.'”

My wait is over, I just found out it’s playing in Salem. I’ll be seeing it this weekend. 🙂

Trailer from the documentary: