The Benedetti Sessions Earlier in the month, I gave a talk and mini-masterclass as part of the Benedetti Sessions to string teachers on the South Bank. The audience was delightful and the student violinist who played an excerpt from the Walton violin concerto, shifted from being anxious and tense to being free and expressive in a mere fifteen minutes.
It always amazes me how quickly a musician can transform and how little it takes to help that transformation. A musician needs to feel emotionally safe on stage and reassured they are ok, even if they slip up from time to time. With this particular student, I got her to feel her feet solidly under her (she was going up on tiptoes), to breathe freely and regularly and to imagine that the difficult bits were easy. Suddenly we heard the real musician underneath the fear and anxiety and her playing was beautiful and incredibly moving.
The Value of Idling I heard a wonderfully inspiring interview on BBC Radio 4 this morning with a psychoanalyst, Josh Cohen. He was talking about how important he thinks it is to ‘idle’ or daydream, and how essential that is for our creativity and overall well-being. What a foreign concept in our driven, over-active Western world where productivity and achievement is everything! Here is the
link: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000dpj4 I’ve started to do much more of this over the last few years and I agree with Josh Cohen, that it makes a huge difference in terms of creativity. So many of my best ideas have come when I’m wandering along somewhere with no real intent, sitting on a train staring out the window or having a phone call with a friend when there is no agenda.
I also find this freedom with time feeds into my practice too. When I have space to explore without a deadline I find I can get absorbed and transported into the music and the process of learning in a way that I find far harder when I feel under pressure. Ideas pop in, a curiosity about what the composer might have meant in a certain passage, a desire to check something in a book. It’s can be entrancing and magical and I wouldn’t be without it.