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Advice from Virtuoso Violinist Joshua Bell

Posted on Monday, October 19, 2015

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What would you ask virtuoso violinist Joshua Bell if you had the chance? Last spring, Special Music School students had an amazing opportunity to enjoy a special private performance at SMS High School and receive advice from one of the world’s greatest classical performers.

Here are a few examples of what Joshua told them:

“Classical music can be relaxing, but it’s also incredibly intense. I think it can be more intense than any rock concert you’ve ever heard.”

“I’ve played many thousands of concerts in my life, and you’d think that I wouldn’t be getting nervous anymore, right? That’s not true, unfortunately. I still get nervous, but in a good way. For some reason, the older you get, the more nervous you get.”

“Before going onstage I try to relax. I eat a banana. I take a nap two hours before so I can get really calm, so I’m ready to go onstage and give everything I’ve got.”

“I try to practice two or three hours a day, sometimes more if I have the time. When I have four hours to practice, I love it because I enjoy practicing.”

“Practicing really works, as you know. It’s not about the amount of time; it’s about quality of time; it’s about getting better. So repeating when you do something wrong or something you don’t like, going back, repeating it, and getting that right, not just playing things you know you already played well is really, really important.”

“You feel good after you practice. It’s just getting started that’s the hard part. It’s like jumping in the water. Sometimes you don’t want to jump in the water because it’s cold, but you know that once you get in, it feels great.”

“There’s no one way to establish a career in music, but there are a lot of routes. You can do competitions. That’s a great way for preparing repertoire and getting people to hear you. You never know what performance opportunities are going to lead to, and you should take every performance opportunity you can. It doesn’t matter how small it is. And there are also a lot of ways to have a career. You can play solo music. I do a lot of chamber music, which I hope all of you are doing, and you can have a career doing all those things. You can teach. You can write music. You can play music. There are so many ways to do it. You just have to find what’s right for you. There’s no one formula.”

“Even in pieces that you know, there’s a sense of improvising. It should sound very spontaneous. There’s an art to sounding improvised, which is very important. Music should always sound as if you’re making it up at the moment. You’re telling a story.”

“You feel good after you practice. It’s just getting started that’s the hard part. It’s like jumping in the water. Sometimes you don’t want to jump in the water because it’s cold, but you know that once you get in, it feels great.”

“It’s a blessing to have a school that concentrates on music. I know there are a lot of schools that don’t have music at all, much less focusing on music, so we should all count ourselves very lucky to have this school [Special Music School].”

Kaufman Music Center

Tel: 212 501 3300
info@kaufmanmusiccenter.org

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