Listening to sounds and exchanging ideas: Dr. Guy Figer talks about Keshet Eilon’s Spring Seminar

Listening to sounds and exchanging ideas: Dr. Guy Figer talks about Keshet Eilon’s Spring Seminar

As the air heats up, so does the atmosphere: registration for Keshet Eilon’s Spring Seminar is at its height, and, at the starting line, our teachers are warming up, too. Dr. Guy Figer, who teaches violin at the Israel Conservatory of Music in Tel Aviv, has been an instructor at the Spring Seminar for several years now, and during the runup to the event he gave our blog a brief interview on the seminar’s importance. So just why is such a seminar important – and which musical work does he most enjoy teaching?

– What is the importance of this twice-yearly seminar for students such as those who come to Keshet Eilon, who have already been playing for a number of years, who show talent and discipline and who practice every day?
These seminars are very important from both the musical and the social point of view. They give young violinists from Israel’s periphery a chance to receive instruction from excellent teachers and provide them all with a golden opportunity to sit in on open lessons with a variety of instructors and hear a range of opinions. The students also get the chance to listen to one another play during a lesson or concert and exchange ideas and experiences.

– Is it important for a musician who is accustomed to study with one particular teacher to be exposed to other instructors?
Opinions on this are divided. Some teachers take advantage of the seminar to work intensively with their students. I do that, too, but only in special cases. Mostly I prefer deliberately to send my students to other teachers, so as to expose them to other opinions and broaden their horizons.
I usually also like to hear other teachers’ criticisms of my students, because I think we all have to learn and develop. That’s what’s wonderful about music and art: there’s no limit to how far you can develop.

– Is it important for students to meet one another?
It most certainly is! When a weaker student hears a more advanced one, he or she is motivated to strive to improve. Also, every student has questions, troubles and preoccupations that he or she is glad to share with colleagues who are experiencing the same things.

– Do the teachers learn anything during the seminar?
Of course they do. Look, the seminar is a wonderful place to talk and exchange ideas, and we teachers are happy to share in this.

– Is there any particular work that you especially enjoy teaching?
For me, with music – as with food – it’s hard for me to pick out any one specific favorite work or composer: it’s the variety that makes it all so much fun. I greatly enjoy Bach’s sonatas and suites for solo violin, and the music of Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert.
I also very much like 20th century music. The only CD I’ve recorded so far comprises music for violin and piano by well- and lesser-known 20th century composers. One of my favorite works on the CD – and in general – is Francis Poulenc’s Sonata for Violin and Piano.

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