So far, so good, friends. The program I am taking part in is run by Mimi Zweig, the esteemed (yet not at all stuffy) professor of violin at Indiana University, along with piano/chamber music colossus Jeannette Koekkoek, a close friend and colleague of hers. The participants are vioinists and violists…and me. We’re teachers, all interested in bettering our skillset, specifically in working with younger beginners. I’m used to being the oddball at nearly every event I pass through, but here my fondness for and focus upon the adult beginner are looked on as only mildly scurrilous tendencies. The days begin with strong coffee and one of those showers that dumps straight onto the bathroom floor. Then up and down the steep cobbled streets of the castle surrounds to the church, where we get a 3 hour dose of Mimi’s curriculum and approach. Tuition includes all meals, which consist of home-made lunch on the terrace and later dinner at Perbacco, a restaurant that is easy to get to, if you have an off-road vehicle or a hovercraft. The rest of us stagger around the course in Fiats that let us know in no uncertain terms they were not built for it. So yes, we have 3 hours in the morning, then lunch, and then siesta. Some sleep, some practice, some swim, some blog. Then back for observed lessons with one of two charming and ultra advanced young French sisters. I do well with adults, but I enjoy these two immensely. They are always ready with a smile, even after throwing up mid-demonstration due to some ambitious swimming after one of our feasts. After that, we take turns playing sonatas with Jeannette. These sessions are as much coaching as duet playing, and are very edifying for all of us, even a certain cellist you know who rarely feels much in her left ring finger these days. Then it’s dinner, too late for my greedy American appetite, but useful because there are meteor showers starting around 1am. We all share rooms, smartly grouped by pays d’origine, so that the late night jet lag and residual effects of espresso, wine, and inspiration can be shared fluently. I’ll get into the specifics of Mimi’s approach over the next few months, but one thing has changed in my aims already: I will do group classes with all of my students, especially the young beginners. For an increasing number of students, there is neither the time nor the money to provide and orchestral context to their efforts. So I’ll do it, at least for my own pupils.
More soon. I smell lunch.