A few thoughts on music and teaching…

hcp karine in front of window

A few thoughts on music and teaching…

Music is a creative medium, which allows performers to establish and emotional and spiritual connection with both the music they play and perform, and with their audience. This connection is intimate, personal, and transcendent. A musical composition comes alive only through performance. Once a composer writes a piece, he or she must give it away, in a sense, and trust in the hands of the musicians who perform it! The composition has a little life of its own. Performing music is much more than playing notes and rhythms notated on the page. Every performer must delve into the music, deciphering the composer’s intention. Each person in the audience brings their own emotions and perceptions to the performance as well. What one person hears and experiences at a recital may be totally different from what another person hears at the same event. Compositions bloom and fade like flowers… years of practice are suspended in time for mere moments of beauty.

Teaching music is the art of guiding the creative, intellectual, and emotional development of each student through studying the technique and repertoire of a specific instrument, as well as conveying the history of the music, the time period ancient or contemporary, and knowledge of the composer’s life and intentions. A teacher abandons judgement and assessment and envisions each student’s full potential and all of the little steps, which will lead them to it. Students and teachers are partners, choosing together the pace and the mood in which they will learn. The technique and history of violin and viola playing is taught largely through an oral tradition, passed from teacher to student over lifetimes of learning.

Teaching my students reconnects me on a daily basis to why I love performing. It reminds me of struggles gone by, refreshes my perspective on most everything, and nourishes my sense of humor! Hour of “point your bow slightly away”, “send your left elbow under the violin a little more before each shift to a higher position”, “measure your shift slowly and teach it to your arm with your ear”, “did you start with your scales and technique every day when you opened the case?”, “did you practice with the metronome, more than once???” become years of the same. Guiding children and adults I teach as they master difficult skills, accept the need for both discipline and creativity in their practice, face fears about taking risks, and gain a deep er understanding of commitment is a privilege. Seeing each of them evolve as artists, through their successes and their setbacks, hearing their sounds and listening as they explain their excitement and their frustration is pure joy! I learn as much from my students as I learned from my wonderful teachers in the past. The circle of teaching, learning, life!

Karine Stone