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Claudia Dehnke

Lesson on 29 September

October 16, 2008 at 3:36 PM

My teacher felt very philosophical today. I will share a few quotes from my teacher, which I found quite interesting...

* on scales: "think of what you want to create and then use your violin to play what is in your mind"

* " everyone hears differently and builds different pictures in their head. Its your job when you perform to create a pictue so clear that other people who are listening will build the same picture in their head. That is what makes a successful performer"

* " don't base your playing on feelings and emotions,you must be mathematical and completly scientific about it!"

* "The violin is a book. The music is the sentences. Now let me tell you something. If you read any book...you have to be able to understand the language that the book is written in...otherwise it doesn't make sense. It is the same with music. You can't go around playing something if you do not have the fundamentals right. You need to have a good posture a good sound and a clean mind (aka. no emotions) to play something and understand it. Now. Read the book properly an dyou will find the knowledge in it."

* " Knowledge gives you security"

* my favoritest ever.." where are you fingers?? Unleash them! Unleash them on the bow!"

* continued from the really long quote.." The music is your letters. How you read it is how you will play it."

* " THINK!!! the more you think- the more your sound will open-without you even realising it"


From David Allen
Posted on October 16, 2008 at 8:28 PM
Claudia, it sounds as if you have a very good teacher. Many people never learn these critical truths. They tend to think it's all about emoting and that if they "feel" the music stronly enough, the audience will somehow know and feel the same!

Thanks for sharing.

From Pauline Lerner
Posted on October 17, 2008 at 2:51 AM
I certainly don't agree with "don't base your playing on feelings and emotions,you must be mathematical and completely scientific about it." A scientist could build a machine to play the violin strictly scientifically and mathematically, but it would sound awful. Music is a way of expressing feelings.
From Jerald Archer
Posted on October 17, 2008 at 8:04 AM
I agree with your teacher on everything they are saying, except for the this advice:" don't base your playing on feelings and emotions,you must be mathematical and completly scientific about it!"
Music is an emotional art. It strives to produce emotional responses, especially for the listener. I feel there are too many players who are akin to robots. Learning the instrument is an academic exercise, but mastering it requires oftentimes that you must "unlearn" these rules and obey your instincts, which is often difficult. I have encounterd many players who have the motions down well, but have no musical inspiration or, at worse, are very limited in their life experiences, both good and bad, that make a great artist what they are. No master violinists gives away their "secrets" and this makes it difficult for them to teach others. It is an intangible element that is produced in performance. At best we can learn a few useful elements of technique in a master class, but by no means come out of the lecture an instant artist. Idealism seems to be the order of the day, and that is fine for some, but makes it difficult to be musically, as a true artist, convincing to others that you truly mean what you play.
From Mathias B
Posted on October 17, 2008 at 1:09 PM
I think the quotes about emotions may be a bit mistakable. The primary trigger of our emotions, when performing written music, should be the written music. This means, ideally we should have a very clear mental image of each and every detail (not talking about emotions so far) and we should be able to transmit every detail to the listener which means we should be in absolute command of the sound. This "scientifically correct" basis does not necessarily mean playing like the Toyota robot (okay, even its technical command...), as the music will hopefully evoke emotions in the player and the listener, which will transform the technically correct playing into something living and communicating. Of course during the process of stuying a piece, technical development and emotional discovery of the piece go hand in hand. When performing the piece, the musician is no "tabula rasa", he knows the road, guiding the listener, but also discovering new details during this journey. On the other side: starting with emotions as a basis, not perfectly knowing the music, what is it you will transmit to the listener? To be very strict: your personal ideas, triggered by an imcompletely known piece, abusing the composition as a tool to transmit them. This works well with some composers and may result in true communication between musician and audience, however the composer will not be as closely involved as (s)he could be. It does not work very well with other composers. Playing Bach, it seems very clear to me that music making gets deeper the more I give up emotional command, just focusing on correct playing and staying open for the miracle to happen. The less I try, the deeper I feel emotionally connected to the composer.
From David Allen
Posted on October 17, 2008 at 7:24 PM
Well, I think that music is in fact a language. If one's command of the language (technique) is flawed the meaning of the communication becomes unclear or altered. Technique is the carrier for the message that we want to give to our audience and the more flwless our technique, the more freedom we have with nuance and interpretation. Others do not feel what we feel. They canonly infer from what they hear, and see in our body language.
From Nigel Keay
Posted on October 17, 2008 at 7:35 PM
"don't base your playing on feelings and emotions, you must be mathematical and completely scientific about it!"
I agree with this comment even if it's perhaps deceptive. I think that music is composed with varying degrees of musicality written into it. In this quote "base" is a key word; a base is what one builds on, better that it's solid, correct and scientific. If it's really going to hinder the feelings and emotions, then take some of the base away after it's there, but I doubt that this will be the case.
From Christopher Ciampoli
Posted on October 19, 2008 at 2:19 PM
If you read any book...you have to be able to understand the language that the book is written in...otherwise it doesn't make sense. It is the same with music. You can't go around playing something if you do not have the fundamentals right. You need to have a good posture a good sound and a clean mind (aka. no emotions) to play something and understand it.

I would add to this context the skills of complete musicianship: aural and oral fluency and a large knowledge of the theoretical components

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