Teaching grown-ups

I have just spent three days teaching adults, at a music camp for amateurs down in Wollongong. I am typing this yawning, and with eyes that feel like someone has thrown sand in them, because not a lot of rest was had by yours truly. There was a fair amount of chatting over wine to be had – and I didn’t count on the kookaburras waking me up at dawn, after a few late night conversations. So if there are a few typos, or rambling sentences, you will know the reason.

The weather was hot, and steamy. There was no air-conditioning to be enjoyed. But the music-making atmosphere was quite incredible! All these people, playing music, simply for the joy of it.

I play a lot of chamber music. It is the music I love the most, if truth be told. But I very rarely get the chance to sit and play something, just because I can. I am always preparing things for concerts. I get to play with some incredible musicians, and the rehearsing process if very exciting and inspiring – but I can’t remember when I last sat down to play a sextet by Brahms just because I was with five other string players who were all in the same place as myself, with instruments, music stands, and the correct parts.

I am humbled by being there, with all these devoted players. One of their number described them as ‘chamber music tragics’ – but I think us pros could learn something from these guys. I think that I forget the joy of music-making sometimes as I am struggling to learn some really tricky passage in some duo sonata. I forget how magical Mozart can be, when I’m in the thick of it.

And this weekend has reminded me of all those things. Thank you to the Amateur Chamber Music Society. May you live long and prosper.