Archive for October, 2010

Schubertiade 2010 – A wonderful Masterclass

We had such a great time and did such good work at the Schubertiade in Schwarzenberg! With the singer Thomas Quasthoff and the pianist Justus Zeyen, we worked with 7 singers and their pianists. It was a great joy to watch them learn and put into practice what they discovered for themselves, every day more. Here are Justus and I with the group of young musicians who participated:

Shine on Stage - Masterclass with Thomas Quasthoff: The participants in the festival Schubertiade 2010 in Schwarzenberg. From left to right: Andrea Marie Baiocchi, Manuel Walser, Hisako Yoshikawa, Akemi Murakami, Jakob Ahles, Laura Faig, Justus Zeyen, Anano Gokieli, Klara Hornig, Nora Lentner, Katharina Seidler, Thomas Stimmel, Konno Kenichi

The idea for this masterclass came up a couple years ago, when Thomas Quasthoff and I discovered that we have a common understanding and concepts when we speak about performing and the art of music. Since then, it has been clear to me that my work and the psychologic approach are the perfect enhancement and support function for his teachings. It is a deep truth for me that music – or any performance for that matter – reaches and deeply touches the audience, when energy and emotions are projected to the audience. And artists are able to project emotions, when they are completely in peace with themselves, when there is no side of themselves that they want to hide, and when they are free to be anything they want to be on stage. Thomas is one of the masters of this kind of projection, and as in many great artists, his skills largely function on a subconscious level. So my challenge was to identify them, to analyze them, and to transform the results into methods and learning steps.

I had a 1-day workshop with the singers on Sunday, and then the public Masterclass with Thomas took place every morning, with an incredibly faithful and supportive and interested audience. From the first moment, the singers built a positive and supportive group of peers, and their openness in the group was one of the factors for success. I could show them all the possibilities and approaches the psychology offers, give them an overview and the possibility to reflect themselves and their issues. On that basis, throughout the week, they got individual support in individual sessions with me, as well as through feedback after their public performances. I am still so happy to have been able to pick up on what I saw them do on stage, and to be able to add some support in actually doing the steps Thomas challenged them to take.

It is amazing what you can see as an audience, when you experience a performance:

* Who is the guy singing or playing for?

* Is it easy for me to listen? To give my attention? Do I follow with my full attention at all times?

* Is this person free? Is this person open? is this performer nervous? Blocked?

* Does the music reach me? Does it awaken my curiosity? Does it touch me emotionally?

* Who is this person performing for? Do I feel spoken to?

The performer’s posture and physical presence, his or her inner attitude towards the audience and performing, his intention to make music, the audience can perceive all of this. The audience perceives much more than we always think: Partly through a non-conscious physical imitation (“rapport”), partly though mental images, partly through eye contact and the direction of the message the performer gives, partly through non-verbal communication, the audience gets a complete impression of the performer and his message. Part of this impression may stay unconscious. But when you’re asked if you liked it, it surely influences how you feel. If the performer does not open up, is busy thinking about what comes next, or about technical aspects, we as the audience perceive this as a lack of intensity, a lack of tension, or simply as neutral. But in order to stand out in a very competitive world, performers have to give more than neutrality.

The young musicians were trained over days in a step-by-step process, to address and influence these perceptions of the audience intentionally. This is a very challenging task, because it demands them to open up, to look at their own fears and negative emotions, to dare to go further than they have ever gone as a person, and much less in front of an audience.

So, I can only give thanks to this wonderful group of young singers and pianists:

After the final concert: Masterclass with Thomas Quasthoff, Justus Zeyen and Katharina Seidler; Schubertiade 2010

Thank you for opening up, thank you for your trust, your ambition, your quest for learning. Thank you for your creativity and for many moving and unforgettable moments on and off stage!