Last update:
Feb 8, 2020

Young Generation

Today, people are concerned about the future of European music education. How young people make use of their time, and their philosophy is not compatible with constant practising. Also, few are satisfied with just one profession. Teaching has also changed. The hours reserved for each student are not as many as they used to be. Music education has been institutionalized, leaving less space for flexibility between teacher and student. In the past, the teacher spent considerable time with the student, also when not working, sometimes even whole summers. When I was young, I studied with Levin at his summer house. In those days, a teacher was a kind of a parent on a different level.

The role and support of the parents is crucial in the question of developing the best string players. Parental help and control must be present as a child cannot practice by him/herself. 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. Excellent 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. South-Korea, China and Japan produce more string players compared to Europe. In those countries, musicians are systematically educated and being a musician is an esteemed profession.

Over the last few years, orchestras and public radios have acknowledged that increasing musical awareness is everyone’s task. In Cologne, for instance, there is much discussion about how to increase the young generation’s enthusiasm for classical music and how the radio orchestra should have an important role in this.
I believe the first step is to inspire enthusiasm. Inspiration is born through collective experience, through group effort – through experiences working in symphony and chamber orchestra. Many students quit music in their teens while a great experience in an orchestra might add to young musicians’ study motivation and help make important career decisions. In 2007 I became involved in the Nordea Jean Sibelius Orchestra project, in order to give young musicians, the opportunity to experience this. During the first few years, there have been 300 participants. The orchestra has carried out 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