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June 27, 2005

Master Class in Singapore

Dear Doug,

Here is a short entry with my impressions of the masterclass in Singapore.

I spent the morning after my recital working with five violin students, aged 14 to 21. Despite the surrounding streets having been closed for a parade rehearsal for Singapore’s National Day in August, all the students managed to arrive well in time and warmed-up. The repertoire consisted of several staples from the violin repertoire, from Bach's Ciaccona to Chausson’s Poème.

It was wonderful to work with such a nice group of young men. It always makes me chuckle that, regardless of their nationality, most students seem to struggle with similar issues of phrasing. Finding the coherence of a phrase, while retaining details and spontaneity within it, is a hard balance to achieve. Most of the time, it takes much experience of listening and singing, then trying the phrase many times over. Even then, one never finds the perfect solution and must simply struggle with the fact that 'getting a phrase right' is a never-ending story.

What, then, helps in learning the phrase "correctly?" This is a very difficult question because each player must find his or her own answers. There is no single answer or a way to play a phrase "right," and each individual player must find it from inside him or her. However, there are a few elements that can be helpful. For example, supporting students through the process of finding their own interpretations in music are such factors such as experience and exposure to artists of an international level. There is never "enough" exposure because the students are always eager and capable for more. Of course, the kind of exposure is also important since, in the developmental stages, all information can be taken in very rapidly. Having access to great performances, live and recorded, to various teachers and their teaching methods (when one is ready), to an environment that is artistically and musically stimulating, and a support system that encourages growth, development and further future return, all these are important components in nurturing young artists.

Thanks to the new Esplanade Cultural Center in Singapore, with its dedication to educational and outreach programs, the students there are very fortunate to have opportunities of exposure to leading artists.


Posted by at June 27, 2005 2:06 PM


I love that you are blogging (sort of), and am really enjoying your insights about the culture. Will keep visiting, and hope you will consider keeping a regular "blog" of sorts.

Posted by: char at June 27, 2005 11:08 PM