Sunday, July 14, 2013

What Itzhak Says

If any parents out there are wondering what artist/teachers are looking and listening for in young students, there's an illuminating interview of Itzhak Perlman on Charlie Rose from a couple of years back. I've often boasted that I can spot musical talent within seconds. Age is irrelevant for me. Even with, say, a five-year-old barely able to squeak out a song, I can tell if there's a gift; that certain something; a spark, a passion, an ear, of course. Perlman claims in this interview that the spark resonates in the eyes; I wholeheartedly agree. How do you define talent? asks Rose. Perlman goes on to explain that one can not only hear how the notes are magically turned into vehicles to express, but see the 'look' in the performer's eyes; how the young player responds to harmony as an indicator.

I'm reminded of the time a youngster arrived here to play the first movement of a Vivaldi Concerto. The pulse was somewhat erratic, the bow hold somewhat clenched, the vibrato somewhat excessive, but the violin sang nevertheless. I heard a poet and I wasn't wrong. "You have to have something to say to make great music," says Perlman. "The truly gifted have an instinct—and an ear."

But then what happens when you discover the talent in the child, asks Charlie Rose. What happens when there's potential for greatness? And here, Perlman laughs softly. "So many things can happen— parents and managers; parents, record companies and managers. Everything. It can happen in the positive. It can happen in the negative."

Refreshingly candid, if you ask me. Enjoy!


  1. How Charlie Rose knows so little about music (and musicians) baffles me. At least Perlman can carry the interview. He looks great, doesn't he? And he sounds fantastic and says all the right things so well.

  2. Thank you for responding, Elaine. I'm kind of new at opening up my posts to commentary. Yes, indeed, Charlie Rose gives himself away when he asks Perlman, "Well, what are you teaching? Violin or something else?" And you're absolutely right. Perlman handles it graciously and with ease. He's a gentleman and great musician.