Masterclass / Play with Presence (part 1)
For 3 days world-renowned violin teacher Mauricio Fuks stayed in Kronberg last week and worked with a couple of the socalled Young Soloists from Kronberg Academy. Maestro Fuks had to listen to and work with 11 young aspiring musicians, 6 violinists and 5 cellists. They were all expecting new insights and new challenges as takeaways for their own musical development.
While these days were intensely busy, there were also moments of inspiration and motivation on evenings that provided both musicians and the teacher with some inspiration through films and joint performances.
The last day, May 22nd, provided an opportunity for me to sit in and follow two sessions where I could observe an incredible teacher doing his masterly work.
What was special during those 4-5 hours in the Academy Studio was the fact that I could witness a dynamic and famous teacher who never lost his direct contact to the young musicians. After each student had finished his or her prepared musical piece he began to analyse and immediately initiate a deep dialogue. In his crisp and clear English he uttered a bunch of citation-ready statements that could all be used in any musical textbook in the section on stage performance, intonation and phrasing and how one can improve delivery, i.e. better performance.
From time to time maestro Fuks brought up little anecdotes, often going back to his own student years under famous American violinist Jascha Heifetz, who was known for his stringent teaching style and criticism. Those anecdotes not only helped to soften tensions but also served as additional learning impetus.
In one of the sessions one of the Young Soloists was going through a series of playing situations with the aim of establishing more communication links to his accompanying pianist. That exercise was tough, it required hard work. Then Mr. Fuks said “ It´s good to sweat!”. And he recalled an anecdote where he was tutored by Mr. Heifetz, early on in his educational phase. “Although I was struggling with an Asian flue I wanted to accept that lesson that he had offered me on short notice. I hadn´t prepared my piece and felt weak because of the flue. But Mr. Heifetz quickly noticed that I didn´t play with energy and enough presence. So he said I don´t see any sweat on your face!” And Mr. Fuks went on by quoting another thought of Mr. Heifetz: “The paying customers in a concert are expecting from you, the musician, that you deliver, whether you have the flue or not.” Later Mr. Heifetz added: “Once you are in playing mode you have to deliver”. Mr. Fuks´s quotes from those lessons that he underwent himself decades ago caused the Young Soloists in the room to nod in agreement.
One way to improve performance is by means of video-taping one´s own sessions, alone or with others. Mauricio Fuks´s advice was “be your best teacher”. And the aim of teaching would be to become more independent. It seemed that that message got through to all the other young masterclass attendants who were in the studio.
Performing chamber music is all about communication. That´s what Mauricio Fuks stressed several times on that afternoon. Especially for chamber music performers it is essential, so he said, to communicate across all senses and on all levels. Communication links one with the audience, the more intense the better. “You must feel the energy of the other players that are on stage with you”. Part of the communications process is to listen and to feel what the other fellow musicians are doing and, at the same time, make one´s own sound intonation clearly be heard by the audience. Then Mr. Fuks turned to the Young Soloist and strongly underlined: “Have the public in your hand!”
Michael Heinz / Kronberg Academy
Schlagworte: Asian flue, Audience, Bruch, Cellist, Intonation, Jascha Heifetz, Kronberg Academy Masters, Maestro, Mauricio Fuks, Phrasing, Practicing, Scale, stage performance, Stage presence, sweetness, teaching style, Video-taping, Violin teacher, Violinist, Young Soloists