That is the question that I have been grappling for quite a while now. The art of music is not an easy topic and to express my thoughts I feel a need to take the reader on a little journey of agreements and doubts, which eventually will lead to conclusions that I have arrived at myself. How to perform music is a topic that diminishes me by its sheer magnitude, however, I will try my best to articulate the things that matter to me at this moment.
No one has made such an impact on the cello and the world as Mstislav Rostropovich. His enormous personality and deeply emotional interpretations are carved with a knife into the stone of the history of music. We all marvel at the changes he brought with him to the way we understand, feel and play music. Until today his interpretations of certain pieces are unsurpassed. He looked at the music with devotion and came to wonderous conclusions, sometimes unthinkable before but with his conviction and heartfelt playing, he made them possible. His teaching was based on what is written in the score, and how to understand it. With his huge heart and imagination, he passed his discoveries to the lucky students and listeners all around the world.
During my time at Texas Christian University, I mentioned to students that the order of learning the piece should be outside-in. Now, finally, I found time to make a slide representing this idea.
The premise is simple but easily forgettable when you practice. Best description would be to say:
"Every accent will be different depending on the context in which it appears".
I have spent 15 years in higher education. Studying. About to finish my terminal degree. Had some experience "from the other side" of academia. And loved it by the way. I'm just feeling most comfortable at the university environment. So what one learns for so long?
Country of Lebanon is full of contrasts. You have Christians living side by side with Muslims. Mosques across churches, modern restaurants in ancient ruins, incredible Lebanese food served with French fries and coleslaw, hookah served with sashimi, full symphony orchestra withy great musicians and not a single educational orchestra program. Children here speak Arabic, English and French.
Imagination is a powerful tool that lets us transcend from here to anywhere. It is powerful enough in children to create a different reality. The more we are aware of our surroundings, the less we engage with our imagination. But it has to be paired with knowledge. Without knowledge and understating, pure imagination can be a false trait.