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#480860 - 10/21/01 02:12 PM Master classes  
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pianoloverus Offline
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About 2 years ago, I started attending many master classes at the Mannes School of Music in NYC. Most of them were absolutely fantastic both in terms of the students who performed and the teachers who gave the master class. I especially liked Jacob Lateiner, Mordecai Shehori, Pavlina Dokovska, Janina Fialkowska, Pedro Carbone, Steven Mayer, and Claude Frank, among others. But I found two of the master classes quite disturbing because of the sarcasm and near cruelty with which the teacher dealt with the student. These were the classes with Andras Schiff and (to a much lesser degree) Vladimir Feltsman. Has anyone elso had this kind of negative experience either as a participant or observer of a master class?

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#480861 - 10/21/01 02:26 PM Re: Master classes  
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Brendan Offline
Brendan  Offline


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McAllen, TX
The general concensus about Felstman is that he is vitriolic at best and treats students like garbage. I had the "pleasure" of viewing this first hand when he came to CCM many moons ago. It got to the point where the poor girl playing started crying because of his rude comments, and when he saw this he started laughing.

I've had some interesting run-ins with less than amiable guest artists. This past year I played Bach for a woman by the name of Dianne Andersen, and she was asking me things like, "Do you even think about the sound that you want to produce or do you just put your hands down and listen to whatever comes out?"

Of course not. In fact, whenever I play Bach I try to play everything at least FF and bring out as many tritones as possible. Especially in the alto voice.

Another funny one was in high school, when I played Prokofiev 3rd for Dina Joffe, who won 2nd in the Chopin Competition back in the 50s or 60s. Well, I had to play last, which meant that my hands were dull by the time it was my turn, so naturally it took a few minutes to get my hands warmed up again. Her first comment:

"I'd never expect to hear such a timid fortissimo from a young man!"

In short, many pianists seem to live by the precept that the term "master class" is synonymous with "public humiliation." And we all know that music is all about humiliation.

[ October 21, 2001: Message edited by: Brendan ]

#480862 - 10/21/01 03:20 PM Re: Master classes  
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MacDuff Offline
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MacDuff  Offline
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I had a particularly rough session during a master class once, and learned later that Mr. Famous Pianist had just gotten a rotten review for a performance of the same work (i.e. I was the victim of his displaced anger at the critic).

I'll always regret not kicking Amanda Vick Lethco in the shins after playing in a master class for her when I was 10 (Schumann's "Soldier's March" -- she got too nasty about the dotted rhythms ONE two three FOUR ONE, clapping loudly in my left ear). wink

[ October 21, 2001: Message edited by: MacDuff ]

#480863 - 10/21/01 04:42 PM Re: Master classes  
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pianoloverus Offline
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"The general concensus about Felstman is that he is vitriolic at best and treats students like garbage. I had the "pleasure" of viewing this first hand when he came to CCM many moons ago. It got to the point where the poor girl playing started crying because of his rude comments, and when he saw this he started laughing."(Brendan)

I guess Feltsman was on his best behavior when I saw him because he wasn't nearly as mean as Schiff. Feltsman's main negative behavior was smirking every time the student didn't play the way he liked. By way of contrast, the students who played for Claude Frank last Friday seemed to genuinely enjoy the experience. Even when he was being critical, he did it with great care not to hurt the student's feelings.He would always say many nice things besides making criticisms and put his hand on the student's shoulder to make them relax. His incredible love for the music was always apparent and he had a way of giving criticism so it didn't sound like he was making a negative statement. As a teacher (of math, not music), I learned a lot about teaching from watching his master class.

I wonder what would happen if someone in the audience(like myself), who has nothing to lose (unlike the student), would say something the next time a master class teacher humiliated a student? Since it would be very awkward for the student and the rest of the audience, I guess it's impracical, but occasionally I've been tempted!

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#480864 - 10/22/01 01:24 PM Re: Master classes  
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Bernard Offline
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pianoloverus, I know the feeling but I think you're correct that saying something would have too many repercusions. You could, however, leave the room and do so quite obviously, i.e., in a miffed manner, loud foot steps, exasperated huffs, a loudish 'tsk', etc.. This might send a message.


"Hunger for growth will come to you in the form of a problem." -- unknown
#480865 - 10/23/01 11:27 AM Re: Master classes  
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okat47 Offline
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okat47  Offline
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Canada
Cruel behavior is inexcusable, but keep in mind that the purpose of a masterclass is to learn, not to get your ego massaged. These people have heard hundreds of people play. Don't expect them to fall in love with you.
I wouldn't take anything too personally.

#480866 - 10/23/01 05:13 PM Re: Master classes  
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PianoMuse Offline
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I have to agree. You know that for one pianists tend to be tempermental. For two, I have been to too many master classes where the teacher has been wishy-washy. I think its nice to have a breath of sharpness, it feels like the teacher is being more truthful. And thirdly, at least for me, but i know many others who are like this, sometimes you need that edge to really get you going and to challenge you to do your best...


"Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music." ~Rachmaninoff
#480867 - 10/25/01 04:58 PM Re: Master classes  
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Dear PianoMuse:

I'm not sure you'd feel that way if you had to endure some of the humiliations I've seen in master classes. All the teachers that I have seen that I considered good were able to make numerous critical comments without being cruel. They were able to inspire the student while they corrected him or her.In fact, as a teacher(of mathematics) for nearly thirty years, I'd go as far to say it is unprofessional to publicly humiliate a master class participant. If a participant is really that bad they would normally be an amateur as opposed to a budding professional, so there is absolutely no reason or purpose, in my opinion, to humiliate them. It accomplishes nothing!The teacher's job is to do the best with what they have.

#480868 - 10/25/01 08:32 PM Re: Master classes  
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Amy Offline
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Amy  Offline
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Right on Pianoloverus!!


-Amy-
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#480869 - 10/25/01 08:52 PM Re: Master classes  
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Bernard Offline
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Bernard  Offline
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Yes, I agree. PianoMuse commented that "...for one pianists tend to be tempermental" and I was thinking about that the other evening and was wondering if it's not indicative of a vicious circle. Temperamental teacher humiliates student... student grows termperamental, becomes a teacher ... new temperamental teacher humiliates new student ... self-fulfilling. ?


"Hunger for growth will come to you in the form of a problem." -- unknown

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