In the past few days I’ve spent some time studying scores of pieces I’m going to be teaching in a masterclass at the RSAMD this week. The date has been in my diary for a long time, but because the academic year only began a couple of weeks ago, it was impossible to find out who the students would be, or what they wanted to play, until now. Not ideal, but I’m familiar with the problem.
As part of my day in Glasgow, I’ve set up a short session after lunch, in a smaller and more private room, where anyone who’s interested can join in a discussion of performance topics. Last December I was the focus of such a seminar in Stockholm, where a group of people who had read my books met to share their responses with me. I found this unexpectedly rewarding and came away with a sheaf of notes I scribbled down as they were speaking. The key to the success of that occasion was that the participants had volunteered, and had had time to think about what they wanted to say. Learning from their example, I’ve sent my Glasgow students a couple of pages of thoughts on such topics as the difficulty of knowing when you’ve done enough practice. My aim is just to spark discussion.
Not everyone enjoys this kind of discussion, so I’ve made it clear it’s not compulsory, but I know that when I was a student I would have welcomed it. I just hope I won’t find myself sitting in an empty room on Wednesday afternoon.