A Very special Masterclass


  • Echoes - Roger's blog about returning to Riva del Garda, where he played his final solo concert in 2001
  • Recensione del masterclass (in italiano) e foto - www.tubaforum.it di Mauro Cadei

At first I was a little disappointed that many of my old students in Italy didn't come to my masterclass in Riva del Garda until I was told that the reason they were not there is that they were working. That's a good reason and a great feeling; my students are working! However, Many of my old students did come, and it was wonderful to see them again.

As well as seeing old friends, the focus of this masterclass for me was to meet and hear the new generation of Italian tubists; I was not disappointed, and the future of the tuba in Italy is healthy and bright.

I was very happy that Davide Viada, one of my younger students two years ago at the Fiesole Scuola di Musica, had just won the position in the prestigious pan European Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra with Claudio Abbado as music director. He has made huge progress since I last heard him. My joke in circumstances like that is: “If there is one thing I hate, it's when I don't see a student for a long period of time and the student has greatly improved without me; I find that very rude!” ---- It's a joke!

Perhaps I even encountered the future generation; I had the opportunity to meet and work an eleven-year-old euphoniumist named Pietro Vittorazzo, a student of Emily Harris who has a formidable studio of very young and talented players; she seems to have the mixture of patience, skill and wisdom that opens the door to a positive musical world for these young players. Great credit and respect needs to be given to Emily and the many teachers around the world that take that huge responsibility of starting young musicians and guiding their first musical steps; it is one of the most difficult and under paid jobs in the world.

Twenty years ago I was wise enough to find teachers for my daughter Melody in her musical endeavors. She tried piano, violin, guitar, and horn and nothing really worked. This following story is very painful for me: I remember very clearly once when she was practicing I tried to “help” her. I pointed out to her that one note was very sharp and I asked her to play it again. She did, in fact she played it several times and the note stayed sharp and I kept pointing it out. Finally I noticed tears flowing down her face and she told me she didn't know what “sharp” meant. I tried to remember that teachers (parents) learn as well as students and that was a big lesson for me. Now the painful part: The next day when she was practicing I tried to help her again (really stupid) and she cried again. Very soon after that she insisted on stopping violin lessons. It breaks my heart to tell this story. Of course, every parent thinks his offspring has the potential to be a great musician but I fear I'll never know. I will only say further that during her piano studies, Melody learned the rather complicated piano part to Morning Song by Roger Kellaway and learned it well enough that we could play it together. I'll always wonder--- if only I was just wise enough to not to help!

So I have the deepest respect for the teachers that help young musicians get started, they receive very little credit and sadly very little salary. Emily Harris is a real hero, she supplies the young players who will later step in and continue the great Italian tradition.

Frequently, these teachers are viewed, and I fear view themselves, as failures in musical performance and therefore go into teaching young children. The Japanese have a wonderful attitude about this. Many Japanese music students, very fine players, look forward to returning to their small towns or villages and teaching young players; consequently, there is a very high level of young players in Japan.

I hope that I will have a chance to return another time and hear to progress of the tuba in Italy.

Firenze, Italy, March 16, 2007

Photo L-R: Davide Borgonovi, Gianni Gatti, Francesco Nicoletti, Pietro Vettorazzo, Alfonso Paltrinieri, Roger Bobo, Mauro Cadei, Davide Viada, Emily Harris, Alberto Azzolini, Walter Fillipi, Lorenzo Di Spazio

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