Violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky Discusses The Influence of Music Teachers
"How are pedagogues' teaching methods influenced by their former teachers?" We threw the question over to violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky.
As students, we are molded and shaped into the artists we become. Influenced by the great teachings of our many pedagogues, teachers can be a huge influence on the way we teach our own students. Absorbing all we have learned from our past, we pass down generations of invaluable teachings that will hopefully continue to be shared and passed down to future generations. VC reader Julian was very curious to know more on the topic.
How have your teachers influenced your way of teaching? What are the biggest takeaways from your prior teachers? Please leave a comment below, we are keen to know your thoughts.
Violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky on How Prior Teachers Influence Your Personal Teaching Style
I have been very fortunate to have had 5 primary teachers who have all played a huge role in my development as a violinist and a musician. I can still remember their distinct voices, actions, and instructions. I also had many masterclasses with wonderful professors and I would like to think that I listened to them all with great attention.
Every teacher is unique but of course, there are certain fundamentals that all professors can agree on, such as the need to be as free with your body and your arms as possible, to keep both shoulders from lifting unnaturally, and most importantly to listen to yourself and concentrate for every second that you practice.
I know that there are certain things that I have picked up from all my teachers; I was very lucky to have the very best of the Russian School from Natasha Boyarsky and Maya Glezarova (the legendary teacher who passed away last week at the age of 92), as well as Hu Kun, my professor at the Royal Academy of Music, whose teacher was a student of Yankelevich. Pavel Vernikov was from the famous Stolyarsky Music School in Odessa and a student of David Oistrakh, and Ana Chumachenco is a true violinist of the world, coming from the Schools of Spiller, Thibaud, and Menuhin.
With these wonderful professors possessing such strong personalities, I have of course absorbed a lot from all of them, and when it comes to teaching my own students, I often subconsciously repeat many of the things that they used to tell me. But I think that this is perfectly natural and is also a consequence of what I hear them do, as most violinists have very similar issues to work on and to improve.
I also strongly feel that it is our generation’s privilege to pass on what we have learnt from our teachers and it is a responsibility that we should embrace.
It is also natural that as I develop as a teacher, I look for my own set of solutions to improve myself and my students, based on my own experiences as a performer and a teacher. To solve a fundamental issue that the student might have over a period of time is probably the most satisfying part of being a teacher, because that is much harder than to do a quick fix that improves the player for a day but which doesn’t solve the underlying problem.
At the end of the day, everything comes back to listening and this was probably the most important thing that I was taught by my teachers and the first thing that I try to pass on to my students. As Maya Glezarova used to tell me; “If you listen to yourself, you can learn to play with your feet.” While playing the violin is tough enough with your hands, I understand her completely and I hope that my students do as well.
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A graduate of the Yehudi Menuhin School, Russian-born British violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky is a founding member of the Sitkovetsky Piano Trio. Alexander was awarded 1st prize at the Trio di Trieste Duo Competition alongside pianist Wu Qian. An alumnus of the prestigious Chamber Music Society Two program at the Lincoln Center, he is the recipient of the 2016 Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Award. Sitkovetsky currently serves on the violin faculty at the Zurich University for the Arts and the Royal Northern College of Music.