I spend many months of each year giving workshops and masterclasses throughout India when I really should be practising or giving concerts. Why? The answer is fairly straightforward. As far as I’m aware, India has the fewest Western classical music graduates of any country with a population of more than 1.3 billion people. What this means is that students and teachers have very little access to a thorough musical education and so, often, have to make do with only an exam syllabus, social media and trial and error for their musical improvement. However, the enjoyment and study of any classical music is entirely contingent on such an education, whether gained through a degree or through access to a highly-trained educator.
The classes I offer aim to assist students and teachers in many ways. Firstly, of course, I hear them play and help them in matters of interpretation and technique. Secondly, I am able to offer my experience as a professor and performer in sharing what we might call ‘the secrets of practice’ – because it doesn’t matter how gifted and hard-working you are, you still have to know how to solve a problem. But perhaps most importantly, it’s my job to introduce attendees to the things that they don’t realise that they don’t know – the world of music beyond exams and literal observance of notation, which produces an individual artist. Many of my students talk about opening a door to a world which they didn’t know existed. A world where they make musical decisions as artists rather than copycats and strive to understand the true depth and breadth of musical ideas. For me this is the most valuable and worthwhile thing I can do with my musical training – but I really should be practising!
Karl Lutchmayer will be conducting his masterclasses from 8th – 10th November at Musée Musical, Chennai.