PEOPLE

Michael Guttman

Thursday, 16 January 2014

The violinist shares some words of wisdom

You have to leave room for danger. Routine is the enemy of classical music.

Classical music is the only form of music that has the notion of the ‘mistake’. It can take a long time to cure players of their fear of making one — and it’s exacerbated by our competition culture.

My godmother, the pianist Gina Bachauer, told me she’d play for a neighbour, two cats and a dog, just to gain concert experience. One live performance can be worth a week of practice.

Everyone should learn how to improvise. Nowadays, musicians come to classical music from different worlds: jazz, tango, klezmer, whatever. If you can’t keep up with them, you can get left behind.

We have a wealth of recordings to learn from, but students often just study the most recent ones. Others are so crazy about Heifetz they only listen to him, which blinds them to other interpretations.

If you practise a piece 100 times, when you come to perform it on stage, it can sound like practice session number 101. You have to leave room for danger. Routine is the enemy of classical music.

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