Masterclass / Play with Presence (part 2)
Observations from a Masterclass with Mauricio Fuks
Another big topic that afternoon was phrasing and intonation. One Young Soloist was asked how often he practiced playing scales on a daily basis. Mr. Fuks then quickly added the statement ” When playing scales one must pay attention to intonation, because that improves the capability for better coordination”.
“I want to hear your phrasing!”. And, “if you want to play for people (and not for yourself), you must play more practical, so to speak, while at the same time you must also play to be heard so that the audience can recognize your great sensitivity”.
Earlier, with a different Young Soloist, Fuks fcussed on the importance of intonation, and made the point that any composition has to be viewed against the backdrop of the composers own language. French and German composers were compared, with Mr. Fuks saying at one point in time “This is serious German Music, not French Music!”
Playing with the composers name Bruch, Maestro Fuks wanted to make an important point with regard to intonation. He looked at the Young Sloloist. Then delivering a funny word-play with the composer’s name Bruch, of which the young musician performed a piece. Fuks remarked, “You play with too much sugar, the composer´s name is not Brüch!” pronouncing this German composer´s name so that it sounded like a French word. “If some sweetness in the piece is required then German sweetness must be intonated, not French. There is a difference. German and French sweetness are very different, musically peaking”.
Fuks again quoted his former teacher Maestro Heifetz: “What does the audience expect from a musical performer? It´s a clear sound”!. He went on using Heifetz words, “ a concert is not a guessing game”. Then Mr. Fuks concluded for the young violinist “Intonation is of the essence, sweetheart!”
In 4 hours Mr. Fuks dropped an amazing number of hints and techniques to improve the Young Soloists´s capability for better intonation, phrasing and dynamics. He always found words that sounded helpful, never losing sight of the strengths that the young musicians revealed during their session.
In my opionion, the special and often funny way of making remarks and providing feedback can be viewed as hallmarks of his teaching approach. And everybody in the room felt his extraordinary presence, as a teacher and a great human-being who wanted to inspire and provide help for self-help. It was a fantastic experience to watch him tutoring those young aspiring artists.
Later on in his final remarks Mr. Fuks stressed the point that he was doing his work in complete continuation of what the permanent teachers for Kronberg Academy are doing in the regular educational units. His engagement should be seen as a complementary piece of education for Young Soloists.
After conclusion of the last session all remaining players seemingly went away with joy and inspiration. The last day ended with a long farewell procedure where the 11 Young Soloists came to Mauricio and gave him a heart-felt hug before they were headed into different directions to pursue other business.
What a great place this is, I thought. A place where young and older musicians come together and create an atmosphere of committed work, respect and openness gaining new skills for better artistic expression, phrasing, intonation and a deepened understanding of what “presence” means. And that´s just one of the key goals which our study programme “Kronberg Academy Masters” wants to achieve.
Michael Heinz / KronbergAcademy