Last week I also attended a number of violin master classes given by Simon Fischer at Dartington Summer School. The classes were attended by students of very varied ability across a wide age range. Whoever they were, Simon provided insights into the students’ violin technique; how they held the violin, the chin rest, the shoulder rest, how they held the bow, the position of their fingers on the fingerboard, helpful comments about their stance, musical interpretation etc. His extraordinary understanding of his subject was beautifully matched with his respect for anyone who came to him for advice, whether 7 or 70, beginner or advanced student.
This kind of teaching is pure gold. There was no cynicism, no ridicule, only interest and a desire to help. The week reminded me how an extraordinary teacher giving a master class can not only help the person playing but also enlighten the audience in what it means to try and play that particular instrument.
If there are any there who do play, like me, it inspires them to practice in a new way. After the class I couldn’t wait to try some of the ideas and immediately found a practice room; I don’t think I have practised my violin so effectively for years. A couple of days later I took my violin along to the class and played. Before I went to Dartington this year I had been encouraged to apply to attend Simon’s “auditioned master class for advanced pupils” but had not had the courage to do so. However, on seeing him work in the open sessions on the previous days I knew that he would take me seriously and help, whatever my standard of playing.
I thought my bowing technique was weak but did not know how to remedy this, he immediately pointed out several unintentional bowing movements I do which hinder my playing and suggested an improvement in my bow hold. With this in mind, a session practising today has made a world of difference to my sound. There is plenty more to do, of course, but I think there’s now someone who could help - and he’s provided books in his absence.
So, thanks Simon, for an amazing set of coaching sessions at Dartington - not just for your insights but also for the infectious good humour with which you delivered them.Tweet
Violinist.com is made possible by...
Discover the best of Violinist.com in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews.