Having both an active performance and teaching schedule is one of the most appealing aspects of my career. Both career paths exist for the benefit of the other, as the teacher-performer relationship is cyclical. For example, I might notice an extraneous right-hand motion as a student transitions from up to down bow. Creating a systemic, logical, and entertaining presentation that both identifies and solves the problem plants a seed in my subconscious. When rehearsing later that evening, I’ll become aware of my similarly extraneous motion and work, with my own prescription, on how to fix it. Of course, the Teacher-Idea-Performer pathway works in both directions. Being able to diagnose, verbalize, and solve challenges when coaching a chamber ensemble makes me a more effective chamber musician. In actuality, we’re teaching ourselves as much as we are our students.
Emily and I love to teach. In the course of a normal day, we connect with people of various ages and developmental stages; at our university, we teach private lessons, present music history lectures, coach chamber music, lead courses on career development, and conduct the string ensemble. Additionally, we teach students in our private studios, ranging from age 3-18. While seemingly a long day, teaching is, for us, an energizing practice that not only allows us to watch a student’s development, but also shapes how we approach our own music making.
Working with adult students is always a fascinating endeavor. First of all, adult music students usually want to be practicing, playing, learning; they’re self-motivated by an intense love for both music and the particular instrument that they’re studying. Perhaps they played in high school but left the musical realm to study a “real” subject at school. Maybe they’re quenching a life-long desire to play an instrument and finally have taken the plunge. Or, they could have maintained their playing chops while simultaneously working in another field. In any event, adult students are an enthusiastic bunch.
As new Artistic Directors of the Crested Butte Music Festival, one of our first orders of business has been to bring to Crested Butte an adult chamber music institute – one that marries the stunning natural beauty of central Colorado with an immersive chamber music learning experience. I can think of no two better ingredients for a week of experiences that will continue to shape its participants long after they’ve left the mountains that encircle Crested Butte.
The Crested Butte Chamber Music Intensive is for those adult students that wish to delve deeply into chamber music repertoire while also enjoying Crested Butte’s myriad outdoor opportunities. Activities include daily coachings, rehearsal time, and a lunchtime masterclass that brings all participants together for both performance opportunities and a chance to learn how to approach various musical issues and situations. At the faculty concert, participants will be able to hold their coaches to the same high standard. The week will conclude with a capstone performance in the Crested Butte Music Festival’s Mirror Palace Spiegeltent.
Emily and I hope to see you this summer!
To register for the Crested Butte Chamber Music Intensive, click here.