Leon Fleisher, an icon in the universe of pianists, put it succinctly.
He channeled the wisdom of Artur Schnabel that embodied the idea that a musician must have an internal sense of what he expects to hear before playing a single note.
Fleisher further insisted that playing by accident, or having a pile of notes flood the air waves without intention and meaning, is meaning-less. (You can bundle “technique” into a ball of unspun yarn if scads of notes, by chance, are aimlessly rendered)
So how does pre-hearing apply to the whole learning process from beginner level to advanced?
In my experience, there should be no differences in approach among players of varying proficiency, because all music must reside in the imagination in embryonic form before sound emerges from silence. (Daniel Barenboim concurs)
By example, I recapitulated my own process as I learned the “Courante” from J.S. Bach’s French Suite No. 5 in G. (BWV 816)
At first I looked at the opening page, encountering a sea of 16th notes, but to help organize them, I “sang” phrases to myself and then aloud. How would I shape the treble melody that launched the basic motif or germ cell that sprouted into a two page development?
And how would I group the notes, execute the ornaments, swell and taper phrases? (not to mention consider the contrapuntal/imitative relationship between voices)
Fleisher urged young musicians to “experiment” in the privacy of their studios and practice rooms–certainly an ideal way to sort through the complexities of phrasing.
But where did fingering come in since it must serve the shape of lines that flow from the very first note?
I believe that fingering choices should be ruled in or ruled out through a process of trial and error, (more “experimentation), making sure these decisions comport with what the player imagines as he journeys through infinite measures. (in accordance with PERIOD STYLE)
In the attached video sample, I imagine, sing, play, experiment and refine. (repeating the sequence as I fine-tune my explorations)
After all, music-making evolves, transforms, and absorbs new awakenings.
In brisker tempo: