What we learned from Jennifer Pike

Not only were we lucky enough to see international soloist Jennifer Pike perform on Thursday evening, some of our students got the opportunity to take part in a masterclass held by the violinist on Friday morning. Over the course of three hours, soloists, duets, and chamber ensembles all got a turn with our esteemed guest and benefitted greatly from her expertise and musical insight. Here are some of the things we took away from the masterclass:

Performing is not just about playing notes – sounds simple, doesn’t it? But Jennifer Pike reminded us of the importance of performance in performing, making the music sound like more than just notes on a page. She worked with our students on how they interact with the audience and how they put emotion and meaning into their playing.

Playing together is more than just being in time – for our small groups, one of the most valuable lessons was about how they communicate and play with each other as they perform. The best music collaborations are the ones that see the performers working together and enjoying their music-making, regardless of genre or style.

Be prepared to lead – regardless of whether you are a soloist in front of an orchestra or a player in a quintet, there will be a point at which you will need to take the lead. Every movement you make could make or break how well others performers as well as yourself, so take responsibility and authority.

And finally…know what it is that you want to convey with your performance – what feeling is the composer trying to evoke? How and where does the mood change? Does the music portray something more literal and physical, like the waves of the sea or the sounds of birds? As a soloist or group, the performer(s) should have an idea of what the piece is about when you perform – it will come across, even by you just thinking about it.

It has been such a treat to host Jennifer Pike and her accompanist, Jeremy Pike, this week and we can’t thank them enough for providing such a brilliant opportunity for not just our students, but the local community to come and see such a fantastic artist. Don’t miss our next International Concert Series concert, the last of this year’s series, on 9th May, this time hosting the pianist sensation, Joseph Moog.

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