On the last day of the year, I find myself pondering the things that gave me most satisfaction during 2011. To my surprise, I realise that some of my happiest working moments were to do with teaching masterclasses. I say ‘to my surprise’ because I fended off teaching for a long while, thinking it was not for me. Not because I wasn’t interested, but because I didn’t believe I could ever live up to some of the examples I had when I was a student myself. In particular, the piano guru György Sebök set a standard which terrified me for ages afterwards. (There are some wonderful YouTube clips of Sebök teaching, which show his skill with words.) Whenever I was asked to teach, I always thought, ‘What’s the point? He could say it so much better.’
Gradually, however, as I acquired more and more performing experience, there came a point when I couldn’t help realising that I did actually know a lot more about certain pieces than my students did. I also discovered how to put certain things into words, or more to the point, I gained the confidence to say them. I’m still inspired by Sebök’s dazzling powers of observation, but in the meantime I’ve also found that young musicians’ hunger for new ideas can be inspiring in itself.
So I’d like to thank everyone who took the trouble to get in touch over Christmas and say that they’d enjoyed working with me. I enjoyed it too. A very Happy New Year!