students

Objects — by Arnold Steinhardt

Last summer I was once again a participant in the Marlboro Music Festival.  As always, the school generously provided my wife, Dorothea, and me with a house off campus. This time we were given the former home of David Soyer, the cellist of our Guarneri String Quartet for thirty-seven of its forty-five-year existence. Dave passed away in 2010, his wife, Janet, in 2011. I knew Dave and Janet’s house rather well, a charming, rustic old place set in the woods, and I looked forward to staying in it.  When people asked me whether I wouldn’t feel funny living in their house now that they were gone, I laughed and said no at first without really thinking much about it.  But then I began to wonder whether Dave and Janet would [...]

Enharmonically Equivalent: Greetings from Kingston! — by Avery Waite

What a month is has been! It has been an absolute whirlwind of teaching, cultural discoveries, new friends, new landscapes and rainy October downpours. Despite the consuming teaching schedule, I've been able to absorb different aspects of Jamaica bit by bit. From the breathtaking views of mountainous junglescapes, to stunning sunsets, to torrential thunderstorms, the natural beauty is both staggeringly vivid and refreshingly wild. But, it's a place of extremes and contradictions. The downtown area in which I teach five days a week is definitely tough and worlds away from the well-guarded mansions that dot the mountain-sides above the city. One of the schools, St. Andrews Technical High School, is bordered by a maximum security prison and several violent ghettos. There is a constant turf war in these neighborhoods as rival gang-lords called "dons" [...]

A Celebration of Janos Starker in Memories & Music: Toronto, July 27-28

A Message from Gabriella Starker It is overwhelming as well as comforting to read and hear the outpouring of respect, memories and emotion since my father left us. I am still emotionally unable to look at all of it. I know I will eventually. My father was my inspiration, my mentor, my strongest and most demanding critic and my great friend. I know that most of you would say exactly the same. His devotion and passion for those he taught and inspired was all encompassing. Nothing gave him greater joy or pleasure. Personally I am reeling from the loss of my daddy, even the detail that he was the last family I could speak with in Hungarian when it came to the basics and not the intellectual pursuits. Life without [...]

A Cellist in Kabul (Part 2) — by Avery Waite

After three months in Kabul I feel ready to write honestly about the challenges of teaching here. The thing is it’s almost impossible to separate everything about Afghanistan from my experience as a music teacher; it’s just such a complicated and bewildering place. And the weirdest thing is that the longer I’m here, the harder it is to write about my life. I suppose the overall experience itself is so consuming that I can’t properly distance myself enough to document it. But I will try my best to cover the challenges that I face on a daily basis. The most daunting challenge is teaching in a difficult foreign language. What I didn’t realize at first is that the language of music pedagogy is tremendously complex. It can be very simple [...]

A Cellist in Kabul (Part 1) — by Avery Waite

On September 4th, I packed up my things, hopped in a taxi and drove to JFK airport. My destination, Kabul. My job, the new cello teacher at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music. When I first heard about the opportunity to teach in Kabul, I knew deep down that I had no choice but to go. Something drew me to it. I applied for the job without really thinking it through completely. But when I was actually offered the position, I had to really take a step back and give it some serious thought. In fact, it took me almost three months to fully accept the decision I had made to go. Some days I would be thrilled and excited, and other days I would be scared out of my [...]

A New Look at Sight-Reading (Part 1) — by Robert Battey

As a teacher who specializes in adult amateurs, and who coaches at chamber music workshops catering to the amateur demographic, I have been struck by the differences of approach between these players and the “serious” conservatory students. By definition, “amateurs” are those who pursue the art form simply because they love it, and without the goal of becoming a professional. Conservatory students pursue the goal of professionalism even when, in a few cases, they don’t actually love the art form that much. But inherent in that pursuit are the thousands of hours slaving away on exercises, scales and etudes, always with an eye on the competition lurking in the next practice room or the impending juries. Amateurs “just want to play.” They have no illusions about ever sounding like the [...]

Practicing What You Preach: Some Thoughts on Balancing Performing and Teaching — by Natasha Brofsky

During my preparation for playing a faculty recital at NEC’s Jordan Hall at the end of March, I found myself thinking a lot about the challenges of maintaining a teaching and performing career.  I always find it the most challenging to play for the “home crowd,” especially students and colleagues, because I hope that I will in some way be able to “practice what I preach.” As a cello teacher my listening is focused on how a phrase could be played in a different, more compelling way, and how technique can serve the music. I find that turning my critical teaching ear on myself can inspire me but also paralyze me, because while I am playing I am hearing all the possibilities for doing it better: all the ways I have taught [...]

Defining the Intangible — by Melissa Kraut

Several years ago I was asked to contribute to an article for Strings Magazine on "what teachers look for in an incoming student."  I was excited about the article—what a fantastic idea—a compilation of suggestions from teachers who listen to 100+ cellists a year auditioning for music schools!  Despite my best intentions, I still haven't crafted a contribution. (Here is where I should publicly apologize to the cellist, who is no doubt reading this entry, for the 3 year delay in responding to your request).  My neglect  was not for lack of interest, or lack of knowledge or experience on the subject.  It came down to the difficulty in putting words to something that  is so nebulous—defining the intangible.  The title for this entry popped into my head during audition [...]