Troyens

Troyens

Monday, December 08, 2014

Suzuki and O'Connor: Now on the Times Front Page!

The story has been up for a couple of days, but this morning it is on the front page. Excellent work by Michael Cooper makes Mark O'Connor look less than great; among other things, the violinist and pedagogue Alice Schoenfeld, who has taught at USC for more than 50 years, remembers her teacher Karl Klingler mentioning Suzuki to her.

P. S. Headline writer, go to your room without supper.

5 comments:

kalimac said...

Re the last point - what difference do the biographical details make? - I'd appreciate a change of focus to a comparison of the methods, which is, after all, why we're interested in these guys at all. Here there are plenty of disinterested third parties familiar with both who could give their opinions.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Whether Suzuki misrepresented his own training, and how good a violinist he was, might bear on people's evaluation of his teaching method.

kalimac said...

Not nearly as much as an actual hands-on evaluation of his teaching method would. By, y'know, actual violin teachers. Suzuki's method is either good or bad regardless of whether he studied with Klinger or not. Similarly, if O'Connor has a screw loose, either that also displays in his violin method or it does not.

Do you wish to revive the "Whether Richard Wagner was anti-semitic, an adulterer, and a general egomaniac sleezeball might bear on people's evaluation of his operas" line of thinking? I'd hoped we were beyond that.

Lisa Hirsch said...

I would not consider these details equivalent. How well someone played and who they studied with bear on their teaching. Yes, of course, it would be good to read some evaluations of the two teaching methods. I bet they are out there, too, given the existence of magazines and blogs devoted to all things violin.

kalimac said...

A violin teacher's personal history can give you a clue as to what kind of teacher they're likely to be. But such shorthand clues should give way to genuine evaluations of what kind of teacher they actually are, once you're familiar with them. Suzuki's method, and O'Connor's, are in books, they have been widely used, teachers are familiar with both. Guesswork based on the individuals' background is no longer needed.

If I'm evaluating a performer, that performer's background may tell me what to listen for, and may help explain things that I actually hear. But I'm going to evaluate what I actually hear and not the background, and if the two conflict, I know which is more important.

I'm not particularly personally concerned with a comparison of the methods, and I know that Suzuki's has long been controversial, regardless of who he studied with. I just find it notable that the focus of the dispute has gone off on to the wrong things.