Who are your musical role models?

<p>When you play music, who are you playing for? Yourself, the composer, the audience, your teacher... </p>

<p>Who do you see as your role models in the music world? </p>

<p>For me, it's my teachers from Juilliard, my current teacher from the CSO, the bass teacher at NU who's amazing, and many of the colleague I've had at the NY String Orchestra and at Juilliard and UChicago. </p>

<p>How about you?</p>

<p>Lest you think everyone is ignoring this, you have asked some very deep and personal questions. It has taken some time to come up with my answer, years in fact, because I have been thinking about this since long before you asked. Even so, it is not easy to put into a few words, but I will try.</p>

<p>When I play and sing, it is mostly for myself. On the surface, that may sound selfish. Actually, it probably IS selfish on more than the surface, but I do it anyway. Music is something that I have been doing for as long as I can remember. It is one of a small number of things without which I would not be me. It is something that I will do in one form or another until I am either dead or severely demented.</p>

<p>While I honor and respect the composers and teachers who have influenced me over the years, it is not for them that I play. It would please me to know that they approved of what I do, at least most of them, but their disapproval would not suffice to silence me. Likewise, when I perform in front of an audience, I hope to share with them some part of what the music means to me. If it pleases them, so much the better for both of us. If not, I can usually find a place to play or sing where I will at least not disturb anyone.</p>

<p>In some cases, I play for those who play with and for me. While it is possible to make music without anyone else, it is so much more rewarding when the whole exceeds the sum of the parts.</p>

<p>Finally, when I remember to do so, I play for my parents. They may never have understood what must have seemed to be a compulsive and obsessive need. They could not afford to send me to the best teachers or to buy high-quality instruments, but they did what they could and that has turned out to be more than enough.</p>

<p>I actually wrote an answer to this yesterday, then deleted it. I wrote from a parents' point of view, about looking to my kids' teachers for guidance - needing teachers I respect because I am so clueless about this music world otherwise.</p>

<p>And being inspired by certain stories of the greats that match my own experience.</p>

<p>I know that my kids tend to revere their teachers. It is why, as a parent, I have always paid close attention to it. I even forced my S against his will once to switch piano teachers, because I felt the teacher was too negative. S admitted later that I was right, but at the time, since his teacher said he wasn't good, then that was fact in S's mind. </p>

<p>But I also ventured a guess on my kids' parts, that they are learning more and more to play for themselves - like BassDad wrote about. I know, at least for my S, that when he learns a new piece, he will listen to several different recordings of it, listen to his teachers' advice, and then look for ways to make it his own. I've heard him say that he admires this person's recording of this piece, or that person for that piece. But I know he's been cautioned against allowing "imitation" to substitute for musicality. And I have seen him come away from auditions he didn't win, feeling good about how he played. So no, BassDad, it doesn't seem selfish - it seems necessary.</p>

<p>All of my kids have had multiple teachers, and that has been valuable to them, to hear different opinions, interpretations, and techniques. Learning that there is more than one "right" way has helped them become confident in finding their own voice.</p>

<p>When my S first started composing, he loved Mozart. (He now is much more excited by 20th century composers.) His early pieces definitely had a Mozarty sound to them. I think a certain part of the creative process is grown through imitation, trying the old formulas to see how they're done, and if we can do them. But then, we push against the boundaries and color outside the lines, to make it our own.</p>

<p>Also as a composer, he is aware of the fact that the audience matters. Writing stuff nobody wants to hear is defeating. What's the point? But he can't bring himself to write something to please the masses - he doesn't "do" pop, or melodic. It's a balance he's still trying to find.</p>

<p>I deleted yesterday's post because it was too rambling. I'm afraid I haven't done any better today.</p>

<p>From my daughter's perspective - she sings for herself (and is delighted when the audience is moved by her voice), but her role models are Dolora Zajick and Cecilia Bartoli.</p>

<p>Thanks for your responses. I thought this question might be an interesting point for discussion. </p>

<p>I tend to revere my teachers, too. When I play, I play for them because they've helped me grow so much as a musician and as a person. They've always been encouraging and supportive and open to my questions... I especially play for my teacher who passed away when I was 16 after I had been studying with him for 3 years at Juilliard. He was one of the great bass teachers of all time really, and I think of him whenever I play and try to have as much perseverance as he did. He taught from his hospital bed and was giving lessons to student mere days before he passed away. </p>

<p>I also play for my parents who have never stopped supporting me in any way they can. Without them, I wouldn't be where I am today as a musician, student, or person. </p>

<p>I play for the composers, too. The music is really all about them - Even if I'm playing the work of someone who's been dead for 200 years, they've left their mark on the world with their amazing pieces of music and I feel that I have to try my best to bring those composers back to life through their music when I play their work. </p>

<p>My role models... My great teachers, the bass section in the BSO, fellow students, some of the great solo and orchestral bassists like Edgar Meyer, Joel Quarrington, DaXun Zhang, Duncan McTier, etc. etc.</p>

<p>I love this question, and also had to think a minute before answering.</p>

<p>I know for me, I play for myself. I don't play well enough for other people to necessarily enjoy listening (although better than a novice, but that is small solace, considering my age!), so it is a private pursuit.</p>

<p>For my son, music is about sharing, about connecting musical ideas with another person, about exploration. It is still poignant to me that he loves to have me listen to his practicing, on either instrument, and actually does his best practicing with an audience, even of one person. He has always performed well in public too, because having an audience is what gives his music life and meaning. He adores the connection with other musicians and with the audience.</p>

<p>He has too many influences and role models to count; I know this was a question on at least one application, and he had a lengthy response. But these influences morph and change too, as he develops and changes.</p>

<p>This is an interesting question and one I would love to hear my son's answer to. I have watched him struggle with his music so much over the last few years as he searches for his own sound and his own voice. (He's been through so many mouthpieces and brands/sizes of reeds on this quest....) I believe he plays primarily for himself. His relationships with his instructors have all been pretty business-like with little personal or emotional attachment. The person who has taken him under his wing and mentored him is not a sax player. I know S cares about his opinion a great deal. </p>

<p>It has also been interesting to see who among the greats is king at any given moment, from Cannonball Adderly when he first got the jazz bug and was still playing mostly alto, to Coltrane and Joe Henderson. It changes all the time.</p>



<p>I sing for myself in most cases. However, I will say that when I'm doing musical theater roles, I do sing for the audience...but for myself first...does that make sense?</p>



<p>My role model in music was Julie Andrews. I just love her beautiful and expressive, but very approachable, soprano voice. </p>

<p>My best mentor was my high school choir director who truthfully taught me the most about singing of any of my teachers. He was one in a million.</p>

<p>Great question.
For me, I sing for myself. No matter where, auditions, performances, opera, it's always for myself. I like it that way because it makes me feel like I don't have to impress anyone. My motto is to sing like no one is listening. It eases my nerves.
I work for the people who support me and the people who don't. The hours practicing diction and the exact way to say a German e versus an Italian one, the countless rehearsals and the scales - it's all for everyone else. I work to show the people who support me exactly why they are, and to show the people who don't exactly why they should.</p>

<p>I asked my son similar questions through his musical development, and have yet to get a definitive answer. Instead, it is a number of insights.</p>

<p>Like binx's son, mine will not only listen to numerous recordings of a "new" piece by various artists, he will also study the original score. As to who he actually plays for, I have to say primarily for himself. He's expressed that he is not complete without playing, that he is missing part of his being.</p>

<p>That's not to say that part of it is not the joy of sharing, because that is a very big part, as he would much rather play to an audience. In a small ensemble, chamber group, or string quartet, I get the distinct feeling that he's playing to a trinity: the composer, his immediate peers, and himself. It's almost an ephemeral, spiritual experience.</p>

<p>He's had a fantastic array of mentors/teachers, and playing to please is probably not the words he's use. Playing to honor is probably closer.</p>

<p>It's a hard question to answer.</p>

<p>I have to agree with many that I sing for myself. It's a cathartic experience for me, but it has become so only by the influence of my voice teacher of four years and the musicians (not necessarily just vocalists) who pursue music with the same passion I do. </p>

<p>I don't pretend to be indifferent to audiences' reactions. On the contrary, I love the fact that I can make a large group of people react so uniformly to a performance. I also agree with operasinger that I like giving people a reason to support me and believe in me. That so many people have become so involved in my music and my future continues to baffle and humble me.</p>

<p>I play for the music itself. That is, I play out of conviction that the music I play deserves revisitation from each generation, that music is among the most potent means of recording human experience that we have. I strive for clarity of communication in all repertoires, but especially to my beloved subfields: baroque music of Italy and northern Germany, and Hungarian modernist music from Kodaly to Kurtag, especially Bartok (if I ever attain a position of influence in academia, I intend to coin the term "Magyar modernism;" at that point, you'll be able to identify me!)
So, when I say that I play for the music itself, I don't mean it in the solipsistic sense of preserving it only out of aesthetic fondness. I mean that music is a powerful tool for humanity, and its history and traditions must be cherished as register of the thoughts and feelings of those who have come before us. And what can be better for the human soul than to that find a work of art some two centuries old has direct and cutting relevance for today?</p>

<p>As for musical role models: Thomas Zehetmair, the Austrian/English violinist/conductor/quartet player is a hero of mine. The great teachers I have had have instilled in me a desire to teach others as they have taught me.</p>