From program notes to Roger Sessions’ Sonatas:
“Listeners to music not only have to try to receive, or be open to the composer’s emotional message (or whatever one wishes to call it) but this ’message‘ also has to get through via another mechanism which is the performer (in this case, me). And it is the performer whose abilities or limitations for such communication, and whose technical adroitness for handling such a task, are always a condition that the listener is forced to contend with.
How many times have I heard a performance, especially of music new to me, where my reactions and assessment have been blocked by a less than adequate performance? How many times has it been hard to know whether these inadequacies have been those of the composer, the performer, or me?”
Helps often presented a Socratic side to his students. Rather than arrogantly belching out some immutable musical truth supported by brute authority, he most often expressing how puzzled he was, coaxing the pianist to a breakthrough through a set of innocent questions.
“I don't know… Is it ME??? or…”