28. January 2016 · Comments Off on NY Phil’s New Conductor Named · Categories: News

The nation’s oldest orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, announced the appointment of its 26th music director Wednesday. Following in the path of Gustav Mahler, Arturo Toscanini and Leonard Bernstein is a 55-year-old Dutch conductor: Jaap van Zweden. (That’s pronounced “Yahp fahn ZVAY-den.”)

He will succeed music director Alan Gilbert, who announced his departure last February. The vacancy at the New York Philharmonic was also the last open position at a major orchestra in the United States — in the last few years, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Metropolitan Opera and the Philadelphia Orchestra have all hired new music directors or principal conductors. Van Zweden’s five-year contract in New York marks the end to an era of head-hunting among prominent American orchestras.

Van Zweden, who begins his tenure in the fall of 2018, is a violinist by training. At the age of 19, he was the youngest concertmaster of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam.

I read it here.

On occasion I’ve had parents or students ask about how they can improve more rapidly. It’s a tricky thing, this “How do I get better more quickly?!” question, because each student is so different. Some pick up an oboe and struggle greatly. Some pick it up and make a fairly decent sound right away. Some can hear note errors and some (most, I’ve found, have very little or no music in their homes) haven’t a clue when they play a wrong note even if it seems rather obvious to some of us. Some have what I call an internal metronome and some are unable to clap evenly.

We are all different. An obvious statement, I know, but not one that everyone realizes when it comes to music.

I was talking to a student yesterday about ability and music and whether it requires an innate talent or if it can be learned by anyone. Can anyone be a Mozart? I don’t believe so. Can anyone play oboe? I think the answer is yes, just as anyone can pick up a paintbrush and paint some sort of picture. My goal with students is to get them to be the best that each of them can be. I can’t compare. I won’t compare. But I will push, to be sure.

What can a student do to help with playing and listening skills?

  • Listen to music: don’t just play the oboe, but hear what others sound like. Attend live concerts. It’s a good thing to do.
  • Practice slowly and carefully. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked a student, “What did you hear?” and get the “I wasn’t listening!” reply.
  • Don’t accept mistakes. Stop. Find the error and work on just that area of the piece. Then link it back up to the rest.
  • No excuses! Don’t just say, “I always do that!” and allow that to be the reason you miss something. (Yes, I hear this a LOT.)

    … there is more … but I’m heading out the door and need to stop typing. 🙂

    But is there a formula? I don’t think so. Certainly more practice can help, but one student might practice for thirty minutes and play quite well while another might practice for two hours a day and still struggle. I think the only formula I would give out would be “Practice to the best of your ability. Listen carefully. Correct mistakes. And be patient with yourself. Very, very patient.”

    One More Thing
    Attend lessons regularly! I can’t tell you how many fall behind because they attend maybe once or twice a month. Truly!