Perlman Music Program: Lessons from the Littles

December 6, 2021, 7:53 PM · Last summer, Perlman Music Program students (dubbed "Littles") formed string quartets to focus on repertoire mainstays by Beethoven, Brahms, Debussy, Dvorak, Grieg, and Prokofiev. In the true spirit of giving, they then crafted a 16-minute video designed to inspire and inform other young players. The joyful result includes rehearsal snippets, fun facts about the composers, and musings on the challenges of chamber music.

I was enthralled to hear these young musicians play and speak. Their finesse, artistry, and technical savvy could put many seasoned professionals to shame. But when the teens talk about themselves, I was reminded how young they truly are. One has two of the cutest cats in the universe, another was a finalist in Scripps’ National Spelling Bee, there’s a violinist who likes to wear flip flops, another whose favorite ice cream flavor is cookies-and-cream, while one cellist's true talent is the ability to Dutch braid her hair in two minutes.

Composer Fun Facts
Each quartet dishes about the composer whose work they are playing and places the piece in historical context. (Who knew that 1941 was not only the year Prokofiev’s second quartet was completed, but also the year Cheerios were invented?) A few other fun facts. Do you know which composer:

• Was called "my little toothy" by his grandmother (and why)?
• Wrote his first and only string quartet at age 55?
• Beat the world chess champion in 1914?
• Abandoned a career as a concert pianist after losing a major competition?
• Wove the F-A-E motif into a quartet (as translated means "free but lonely")?

Fearsome Foursomes
In the video, the young players briefly discuss the challenges they faced working together in what many would consider the most intimate and challenging of musical environments – the string quartet. Issues include staying focused, not laughing in rehearsals, blending sounds, communicating with each other, and rehearsing efficiently.

Violist Dillon Scott talks about "dynamic relativism," in which his quartet "interpreted certain sections based on the context of the surrounding sections." He also notes that when they listen to each other in “an emotional way rather than simply a technical way," it's easier to play in tune "because we are so connected."

Emily Feng, yet another articulate violist, says her group focused on "connecting with each other in order to find an internal drive that was less metronomic and mechanical and more based on flow and feeling."

You'll learn something from these talented Littles, as will your students and children.

Apply for 2022
Applications for Perlman's 2022 Summer Music School are open. For more information on the program and how to apply, click here.

Note: The video was produced by PMP faculty and alumna Mariella Haubs.

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December 7, 2021 at 09:51 PM · Oh my! I LOVED that! How delightful and refreshing! I smiled through the whole video! They were all charming, spoke beautifully from the heart in such a down-to-earth honest way and with such a sense of humor. I learned so much from them. Why couldn't my teachers have taught like that! And needless to say, the music was magnificent. I especially loved the Brahms and Beethoven. If I had closed my eyes I would have thought that adults were playing. Now the most important: How do we make sure that all schools get to see this!

December 8, 2021 at 09:45 AM · nice!

December 8, 2021 at 03:14 PM · Joe, thanks for your lovely comment! I couldn't agree with you more. I'm sending the video to all the teachers I know!

Jean, so glad you enjoyed it!

December 8, 2021 at 04:43 PM · Man, this really takes me back to when I had hair! It's great to hear these really talented kids not only getting into the music, but connecting with each other, which is where the real humanity in music-making abides.

Inspired by these great musicians, I'll practice my string quartet music like I should.

December 8, 2021 at 05:15 PM · Christian, what a hilarious and also wonderful comment! These kids have also inspired me to practice in a different way. They are quite something.

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