October 2011

Teacher Talk

A series of teaching-articles in the Strad Magazine

How do you encourage students to develop their own musical ideas rather than just copying your phrasing, or even that of Heifetz?
John Jones, Cardiff, UK
Boris Kuschnir – I would ask a student such a few questions:

1. Why do people not organize exhibitions of copies of works by Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Raphael, Picasso and other great painters

2. Why do painters by great artists cost millions, whereas copies of those paintings are sold for €10 at the supermarket

3. Why did tickets for concerts by great violinists such as Heifetz, Oistrakh, Menuhin and Stern sell out a year in advance, whereas performances by violinists who try to copy those great musicians take place in half-empty halls

4. Why has nobody succeeded in copying Stradivari violins – or other classic Italian violins – in such a way that they sound like the originals

5. When does that student feel happy? When they put their thoughts, feelings, worries, pain or happiness into their interpretation? Or when they copy the interpretation of Heifetz?