Last update:
Oct 2, 2013

Young Generation

Nowadays many people are worried about the future of European music education. The way young people use their time and their philosophy is not compatible with continuous practicing, and few of them satisfied with having only one profession. Teaching is another great problem. The teaching hours reserved for one student are not as many as they used to be, Schools have been institutionalized. Flexibility between the teacher and the student is seldom possible. Earlier the teacher spent lots of time with the student, also when not working, even whole summers. The teacher was almost the second father of mother. When I was young I studied with Levin at his summer house. In those days a teacher was a kind of a parent on another level.

When wondering about how best string players have always been educated, the role and the support of the parents is very important. The child cannot practice by him/herself, parental help and control must be present. Unfortunately the modern lifestyle makes it difficult for many parents to commit to the activities of their children. Suzuki and many other methods are based on teaching the mothers first and the kids after that. Great results have been achieved for example in Norway with a similar method. A number of great violinists have emerged after working with their parents in these small groups. In autumn 2011, I will start giving master courses in the Oslo music academy. Each master course will have three or four students.

Comparing with Europe, more string players are produced in South-Korea, China and Japan. In those countries the musicians are systematically educated and being a musician is a very esteemed profession there. In the last few years various orchestras and public radios have acknowledged that increasing musical awareness is everyone’s task. For example in Cologne there is much discussion about how to increase the enthusiasm in young people about classical music and how the radio orchestra could participate as a media institute.

I think the first step is to inspire enthusiasm. Inspiration is born through collective experience, through group effort: through experiences in orchestra and chamber orchestra. In 2007 I became involved in the Nordea Jean Sibelius Orchestra project, in order to give collective experiences for young musicians. Many students quit music in their teens and on the other hand a great experience in an orchestra might add to young musicians study motivation, and it might help make important career decisions. During the first few years there have been 300 young musicians. The orchestra has had several rehearsal camps and concerts around Finland. We are about to do our first recording for EMI records, including Beethoven’s Coriolan overture and Sibelius’ First Symphony.

Taken from the book by Pekka Tarkka & Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Kapellimestari, published by Siltala 2009