August 2011

Teacher Talk

A series of teaching-articles in the Strad Magazine

Is it important to play etudes and presentation pieces perfectly?
Carola Barnes, Alberta, Canada
Boris Kuschnir: Etudes should be learnt and performed as perfectly as possible. Most of the time, their main purpose is simply to focus on a clear technical task and not so much on the musical aspects. On the other hand,
while also trying to reach a very high technical level, I like to focus on their
musical aspects, praising individual characteristics of the student’s playing and paying less attention to small technical mistakes.

What do you recommend students do to avoid making
tense facial expressions when playing?

Janet Smith, Gloucester, Uk
Boris Kuschnir: There are many ways the teacher can help the student, depending on the amount of facial movement. One good way I have found is to convince the student that all the expression they seek can be made fully with the movement of the hands – especially the right hand instead of using the facial muscles in exaggerated mime. And of course, their whole posture must be relaxed while playing. Another option is for them to practise playing and speaking at the same time in order to relax the muscles.