Teaching? Traveling? Great!

One of the highlights of the Brazil trip for me personally, has been our involvement with the schools, conservatories, and students. Never have I felt more inclined towards this type of work than at the present. To walk into a community that provides a safe place for so many kids to come after school and pick up an instrument, find a teacher, hang out with their friends, was invaluable to see. I have not really taught much before for young string students, private or group, but it occurred to me, you do make a difference. For younger kids, you don’t even need to wait to see the affect it has on them! I was floored by all the responses we got from performing in different venues, classes, for different levels and skills of instrumentalists. I certainly could do more of this stuff.

Deep inside, what really got me was having performed these classical pieces, staple works in the string quartet repertoire, young students were excited, beaming and impressed by what they saw! More impressive to me was not our performance, but how fortunate we are to enjoy this so freely and frequently,yet our arrival and stay with them was a big event. One that was between two big music festivals that roll into town. That’s it. Twice a year, and then there was us. Talk about deeply humbling, that our work could be effective and plant within them a seed of desire and passion for making music and perhaps using it to further themselves as learners, musicians, professionals, people.

Hanging out with those same fellas I’ve been speaking about, at times they would converse in Portuguese to each other. To me it was just fun talk, maybe about their latest joke, or making fun of something we did in front of them. But as Paulo explained to me, that excitement and thrill in their voice was about the orchestra rehearsal of the Vivaldi, or seeing the Dvorak Cello Concerto performed, on YouTube albeit. Talk eventually started up about future plans, individual playing, quality, etc. On the side, Paulo and I spoke and he whispered to me, “No, they’re not in it to make money. They just love music. The love the music they get to play.” I couldn’t have put it better or more genuine, nor could I have learned anything more at that precise moment. These were sixteen-year-olds. These were joking-laughing-slap-each-other Brazilians friends hanging out. But these guys had something else I often need. Who am I to be worried for what’s ahead or in store? I wonder if we look like that sometimes. I hope so.

On another note (don’t say it!), as our quartet experienced traveling, rehearsing, performing, and practicing completely on our own, self-sufficiently enabling ourselves to ‘tour’ and stage ourselves for a week and a half of enveloping ourselves in our career pursuits, really refined a lot of things for me. It’s good that most of the time I thought to myself, “I could really keep doing this!” What better than to wake up, rehearse, practice a bit, go do a small performance, teach for the afternoon, or should I say inspire, and then give a performance every few nights! I could really keep doing this! What a routine. Let’s do it.

Any thoughts or experiences in music education and professional performance for you guys?



  1. jleighton said

    I was thinking much the same thing with the few “kiddie concerts” the brass quintet has done but what really made me think was actually after talking about illustrators. Maurice Sendak is an incredible visual artist who has done everything on up to grand ballet sets. On all accounts he is an artist worth the history books. But what sticks out to me is his true passion. He is an illustrator for children’s books; most notably “Where the Wild Things Are.” Almost every American Child has read if not at the least recognizes the artwork of this wonderful book. (Which interestingly enough was adapted for Opera by Oliver Knussen.)

    His influence, therefore, is infinitely more than that of the greats such as Jackson Pollack, Mark Rothko, or even Picasso! This of course is not a argument of greatness because whether we enjoy the three previous artists or not there ground breaking work is invaluable but how important the education of children!?! What indeed is the measure of greatness and is “high art” really more noble than folk or pop art?

  2. Alex W. said

    Undoubtedly, it always starts with the education of the youth in any nation. To make a revolution, anarchist or government based, the effective party has historically (and so subtely) taken the front lines to the education system. Communism? Atheism?

    That has inspired me, as well as scared me. The fact that in the age group, minds are so much a moldable thing. Easily, in a scary way. A slight tangent… I’ve heard it say that to begin teaching music lessons, just go into it knowing that you’ll probably screw up the students in your first couple years. Haha, don’t dig too deep into that statement. Just a superficial commentary on pedagogy and technique, among other things to think about.

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