Friday, January 30, 2009

In His Shoes

While Ilkka is away in Finland, performing a recital and offering masterclasses at Pori Conservatory, I've stepped into his shoes. If my readers are disappointed by fewer posts this week, I hope these excuses are sufficient: I'm coaching Ilkka's batch of talented, eager students, as well as my own pupils, feeding our cat Seymour numerous times a day (Ilkka spoils him with an array of dishes—buffet style served on my best China). I sit in the passenger seat chewing my thumbnail as Sarah, our 16 year old, drives herself to school each morning (at least Sarah plays Oldies - Billy Joel and Simon & Garfunkel - for my benefit). I'm acting concertmaster for Rainier Symphony for two weeks, and at the suggestion of David Waltman, guided the responsive and supportive strings through a sectional last Tuesday. I returned home from the rehearsal, as Ilkka often does, feeling uplifted from adventuring into challenging repertoire in a nurturing and positive environment. I could write a whole essay contrasting the Egotism of so-called musical professionals (Parallel Universe, remember, in my That's Gratitude post) as opposed to the Humility of the music lovers, who are accomplished in other fields. If I had my life to do over, I'd choose another career besides music; a sort of back to the future is taking place in the arts nowadays.

As I look forward to another day of teaching Ilkka's students, I remind myself, first do no harm. Listening to the various styles and noting the different techniques of learners, I'm mindful of a trait known as Individuality. One youngster plays with a too-careful approach. What to do? We play-act, and I conjure up Konstantin Stanislavsky, the Russian theatre director, writer and actor, in my imagination. We're going to dramatize the Barber Concerto and allow each scene to unfold, step right into the composition, and lose ourselves in the process. The crucial goal for teachers should be to energize students into finding the way themselves!

A phenomenal pupil of my husband's, violinist Rose McIntosh from Seattle Pacific University, is blessed with dramatic flare, and strong musical conviction. Her playing reminds me of the late Ginette Neveu. Rose will be performing the Sibelius Concerto with Thalia Symphony this Saturday afternoon, January 31, and I'll be there, bursting with pride. I hope you'll join me.

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