Adrian Allan wrote: ↑
Mon Aug 07, 2017 3:25 pm
...it doesn't come close to a pupil-teacher relationship built up over many months or years.
It's not supposed to.
In the right hands, a masterclass (from the players point of view) can be inspiring and enlightening. In the wrong hands it can be degrading and embarrassing. As someone who has played in many classes, and one who has given master classes I feel they can be quite useful.
The last master class I participated in was for Oscar Ghigla. This was about 7 or 8 years ago now. I performed for him the Rossiniana No. 1 by Giuliani. Now I had played for Oscar once before, and I've watched him teach and have heard stories. This is a guy who will stop you after the first note you play if he doesn't like what he's hearing. And he has no problem stopping you in the middle of the performance. So here I am performing the Rossinana (18 minute piece, btw). Now I sat through 2 other performances/classes before I went up (sitting in the room for 2 hours before my time), and had to sit down and play this piece...not a smart idea.
Anyway, I played the piece - definitely was not the strongest performance on my part. Every moment of that 18 minute piece I wished that he would just stop me and we could work on the piece. But no, I performed the whole piece. I'm pretty sure I missed every single scale in that piece, kicking myself for it too. So after the 18 minute performance, he got up on stage and sat next to me - and then speak to me about "being the hawk and hunting rats". IE - not being scared of the scale and "attacking it". He also spoke about dealing with consistency and practice with scale passages in pieces. This speech went on for at least 30-40 minutes. Oscar, being a wonderful speaker offered a lot of imagery in his words. At that moment, I wasn't ready for it, but looking back every word of that was correct and lives with me to this day. He also went into a thing about the politics of Italy at the time when Rossini wrote the arias and how the political climate is represented in the music. Also about how he "grew up" with these arias and how they are second nature, and the performer must too study those arias completely. But after he was done with the speech, everyone in the room thought the class was over. Nope, Oscar excused himself quickly to use the facilities and said "stay there, and when I get back - we'll work on the piece". The whole room was in shock! Oscar came back and we started actually working on the piece. Needless to say, after about a 90 minute class with him, Elena called and asked "where he was" because she wanted to eat dinner. So we had to stop the class. I must say, that I learned a lot from that class, but I also had to be "talked down from the ledge" from a friend/teacher of mine too. It was intense. I didn't know what to make of it. I definitely left confused. At the time, I wasn't happy with it - but now as I look back, there was a lot given to me in that class. And I'm sure Oscar could have given me much more.
Too many players are there to "impress" the teacher who's there. That's not the point. Play your best, and be receptive to what will be taught. Try new things, and give them a shot in your practice at home. Sometimes you'll hear the same thing your teacher has been saying, maybe phrased differently, maybe phrased exactly the same. Reinforcement is good. And everyone can learn from a masterclass.