Musicians in Master Class

Renowned guitarist, composer, and professor from France, Olivier Chassain, came to St. Louis this past weekend to give master classes to many guitarists. I was honored to watch one of my students play for him!


I also attended as many of the classes as I could to observe the maestro’s instruction and take notes. For any musician who might be interested, and especially any guitarists, here are some of the most notable quotes from the weekend:

“As a musician, you are an interpreter, and you are a pedagogue while playing. You must have the generosity to be an advocate of the music and express the will and cleverness of the composition itself… you must be the ambassador of the composer’s piece.”

“Play a piece of music each time, no matter how familiar it is, as if you were playing it for the first time. You must be captivating to the audience.”

“Never repeat yourself the same way twice in a musical phrase.”

“Be inventive when you play! Life is risky, from the minute you stand up and quit your bed.”

“Music is convivial communication.”

“Guitarists need to breathe just as wind players do.”

“Especially when playing as an ensemble, everyone needs to follow the sentences, punctuation, and breathing of the music, transcending your own self to play as one entity together.”

“When you see a stage act, the characters are exaggerated. So also musicians need to bring out what they are projecting, increasing the different emotions, making more effort to communicate to the audience. If you are convinced yourself, then it will be evident in the music, if it is strong enough. Give the best of you! Don’t be reserved; be generous.”

“Sing everything, always! Vocalize each line and phrase with your voice.”

“There are two ways of practicing- slowly, and very slowly. But slowly is already too fast. When you play slowly, it is like using a microscope. But you also don’t want the colors to become grey when the piece slows down! You need to paint each note with the same bright clarity no matter what the tempo is.”

“Music is two things: notes, and the silences between them.”

“The best technique is one that nobody notices while you are playing. It must look easy and natural, even if the music is very demanding. But technique is not a goal in itself; it is a way to make the music alive and singing.”

“Relaxation doesn’t come first in technique. It is the consequence of channeled effort. Use the minimum effort necessary to produce the maximum possible results.”

And here is my favorite quote of all, one that I want to frame and hang up on my studio’s wall to remind myself what the ultimate goal of being a musician is:

The real musician is not one who plays the notes,

but the one who plays the music between the notes.”

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1 Response to Musicians in Master Class

  1. Pingback: When I Want to Quit Being a Teacher | lifeistheteacher

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