Something that has always struck me
about listening to the Simon Bolivar Orchestra (the top orchestra in
Venezuela), whether live or in recordings, is their unique group sound: textured,
robust, and fearless. While observing children learning instruments of all
ages and levels in various nucleos throughout Caracas, it has been interesting
to try to trace this sound backwards.
At the nucleo La Rinconada on Wednesday, one of the first things that I noticed in a violin class of 7 to 8 year olds was how much bow they were using. As a strings teacher I am always trying to get my students to use more bow, and so I was amazed at how naturally it seemed to be for them. I decided to back step a bit further, and so went into a cello and bass class of 5 year olds. They had only been playing for a few months and I watched the instructor guiding coaching the group in a measure of staccato quarter notes. She had one student play by himself, in a manner that involved lots of bow and a certain kind of pressure that, to be honest, didn’t sound all that great. But then she had the girl sitting next to him join in the same style, and it started to sound better.
After the 3rd, 4th, then 5th person, it improved more and more and by the time the whole class was playing, it sounded – from an objective musical standpoint – good. I liked it better than I would have had each individual cellist produced a clear, clean tone (by my standards) on their own, and then combined them.
Continue reading on my personal blog.
Sistema Fellow '13