The Violin Channel recently caught up with Kronberg Academy Director, Raimund Trenkler - in Kronberg, Germany.
In a VC-exclusive blog, Raimund shares his thoughts on what initiatives music learning institutions should be taking during these uncertain times to ensure safety and continued learning for its students:
''These are challenging times for all of us and we have to deal with it in the best possible way.
We are glad that the digital world offers so many possibilities to continue keeping in touch with our students on a regular basis. Our principal professors have offered to teach online, via Skype or FaceTime. Although, of course, this can never replace face-to-face teaching, we are extremely grateful for it.
It demonstrates such strong commitment to the Academy and to our students – they won’t be left alone to cope with this situation.
Both the tutors and we as a team are always in close contact with them, giving them advice and helping them in very practical ways.
But, naturally, online teaching has its limits. The work you can do in terms of sound is insufficient, you can’t really go into any depth.
Nevertheless, I’m receiving feedback that online teaching can be used well for some things, especially newly learnt repertoire. Groundwork on rhythm, intonation (this works particularly well!), bow division, fidelity to the score and using different types of bowing can be taught.
However, it isn’t usually possible to delve deeper where musical aspects such as expression and phrasing are concerned.
There are also limits on how much you can work with dynamics, because the quality of the devices varies greatly and the connection is sometimes too slow. Despite all this, we should remember that so much music is listened to online these days, so it is absolutely standard for artists to play “on the internet”.
Consequently, analyzing these sorts of films presents a real opportunity to learn about how one’s playing comes across on electronic media.
Some of our tutors have the students send them videos which they then go over and talk through together. It is the best we can do in this situation. We hope, above all, that everyone will be able to play together again very soon, since at present everything revolves around solo playing.
It’s incredible, though, how interesting formats are being discovered here within this playback process. The creativity is enormous, even if it is somewhat forced at the moment.
We have the same procedure with the theoretical subjects, where homework is distributed and then video conferences or calls are arranged to discuss the subject matter.
One advantage of this teaching situation is that it challenges and helps to build the self-awareness of the young soloists in their playing.
Things that the tutors cannot perceive with the same sensitivity as usual, because of the distance, must be scrutinized and recognized by the students themselves. Just as they must, later on, for the rest of their lives as musicians.
Unfortunately, we had to cancel our events for the first half of the year. This saddened us the most for Chamber Music Connects the World.
We had held auditions at the beginning of March in which we had selected 28 excellent young musicians to prepare and perform chamber music as the “Juniors” - alongside Gidon Kremer, Christian Tetzlaff, Steven Isserlis and Jörg Widman.
But because this project is so complex, it will sadly be impossible to hold it at a later date.
The Kronberg Academy offices are now only manned by a skeleton team with all others working from home. And there is plenty to do.
The time right now – when every institution has had to abandon concerts with audiences – is a time of planning: we need to look to the future, forge new concepts, create programs and schedule concerts and teaching events.
When the time is right, ensemble playing will then become the highest priority once again.