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© Jelte Althuis 2017

coaching

Posted on: April 22nd, 2013 by jelte No Comments

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During my time as a student at the conservatory, great emphasis was placed upon ‘perfection’. I learned how to play as part of a large orchestra. Stage presentation and the quest for new concert forms were neglected areas: “you can’t make a living from chamber music”. Today, after graduating as a performing musician, a steady job in an orchestra is no longer the only relevant option. You are required to create your own place in the market.

In my work with professional musicians, I aim to develop how someone may communicate the story behind the music in the best possible way, without the material, mind or body standing in the way. I deal with issues ranging from mental pressure on stage to which fingerings allow you to play faster, from the impression that posture can give to how to tackle a note that you can’t quite reach.

 My approach is always thus: technical perfection will hopefully come in the end, but don’t only stare blindly at the things you can’t yet do. Hard, senseless practice can sometimes lead to physical injuries and a loss of perspective. My first music teacher told me that “people are only interested in a flawless performance”. Killing! There are other solutions. If I can see and hear that a musician is apprehensive of a particular passage, then I find it interesting to work together on a solution. For example, by playing the preceding note a little louder, the ‘difficult’ note following is less noticeable. I encourage musicians to discover for themselves a solution that works for them.

When working with ensembles, I concentrate mainly upon timing and ensemble playing. It is all well and good to be able to play your own part, but what is your role within the ensemble? How is your communication with the other players, and with the audience? The art lies in telling your own story with the music, whilst simultaneously reacting upon external factors and the atmosphere around you.