The Weekend Vote
We human beings tend to be inspired by other human beings that we hold in high regard -- as long as we don't go down the wrong road and get jealous!
Inspiration is something we need -- it keeps us in that practice room, holds us to a higher standard, makes us strive. Sometimes that's a superstar whose playing is an example of near-impossibly high standards -- Heifetz, Joshua Bell, Hilary Hahn come to mind. It can also be someone closer and more personal in our lives: a teacher, a fellow student or a colleague.
When I was a child, my first "role model" was probably the late Eugene Fodor, who at the time was quite a superstar, having more or less won the Tchaikovsky Competition. I could not stop listening to his recordings, and I was mesmerized by his playing in real life. He was a native of Denver, where I grew up. I wanted to play the way he could play!
But I've not always been inspired by superstars. When I was in college, I felt more inspired by my fellow students, and not simply because they played well. I remember one student, not even a violin student but a piano student, who had the most amazing practice ethic. Every day, several times, without fail. Such discipline! This was a person who knew how to say, "No, I have to practice." I wanted to be that kind of practicer. To have this role model, this steady example of someone with such iron discipline, was a great motivation to me at the time.
I've also been inspired by teachers. When I was at Indiana University, even though my teacher was not Josef Gingold, I felt inspired by both his wisdom (which I saw at master classes) and his example as a generous human being who had a successful life in music. Sometimes teachers seem to know so much and have such a rich connection with the world of classical music (or other kinds of music) -- this can also fuel our fire.
Out in the "real world" I have been inspired by colleagues, particularly the ones who continue to try new things. One colleague self-produced a beautiful recording -- over one weekend! Wow! Others have found such interesting ways to live their lives in music -- touring with pops groups, starting a chamber series, etc.
Sometimes I can be inspired simply by someone who has kept up their chops -- the professor Stanley Ritchie, for example, plays all the Bach Sonatas and Partitas better than most humans ever will, and he's in his 80s! I'm also inspired when I go to international competitions and see young people who have worked so hard and who have brought their standards to such a high level at a young age.
If you examine your sources of inspiration these days, who is the greatest role model for you at the moment? Please submit your vote and also tell us about who inspires you, and why!
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It's recital season, and I'm finding that for some of my students, that means just one more of many performances. For others who have fewer performing opportunities, it's more of a big deal.
Let's face it, music is a "performing art," and playing for people is part of what we are training to do, when we learn to play an instrument. But it's not always the most comfortable part of the equation.
One thing is for sure: performing improves with practice, just as scales improve with practice, accuracy improves with practice, etc. The more you say "yes" to opportunities to perform in public, the better you'll get at it. And I daresay, it usually gets a bit easier.
"Performing in public" can take many forms: playing in orchestra concerts, playing in a recital, playing a chamber music concert, playing for church, playing in a show, playing in a band, and even busking is a form of performing in public.
Professional musicians often perform in public several times a week, all year long. On the other hand, a beginning student who has not yet joined an orchestra or found another outlet for performing may only play a few times a year. Teachers, also, may not perform as often because they spend so many hours teaching.
How often do you perform in public? What are your most frequent performing opportunities? Do you find it easy or difficult to perform in public?
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Which do you like better: playing in a rehearsal, or practicing alone?
Both are forms of practice, but one involves other people and the other is solitary. Earlier this week in an article about teaching adult students, teachers Susan Blaese and Edgar Gabriel reported that their adult students liked going to rehearsals better than they liked practicing alone. For that reason, the students really thrived, when offered the opportunity to play together in groups.
This made me think, which do I like better? Solitary practice is fairly peaceful, without anyone around to make judgments or push you one way or another. Importantly, you can hear yourself play. It's possible to get caught up for hours, making new discoveries in the practice room. On the other hand, a rehearsal puts you into something bigger than just yourself and to feel part of a group. The music itself can feel wonderful, when everyone locks into it together. Plus, you get to see your friends.
Which do you enjoy better?
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Previous entries: March 2015
The Weekend Vote is from Pasadena, California. Biography
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