This last weekend, I took my son Nathan to a presentation with Sir James Galway sponsored by the Greater Boston Flute Association at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. Nathan plays the flute, and Sir James Galway is perhaps the best flautist in the world today, so this was a great opportunity for him to see and hear a master.
This particular presentation was in the form of a “master class”, which amounts to a short lecture for the entire audience, followed by 3 one hour lessons for each of 3 winners of local flute competitions while the audience watches.
Truthfully, I was a little apprehensive about going myself. While I do enjoy listening to music, I am not a huge enthusiast and I do not play any instruments myself, so his mother usually is enlisted for limousine duty for most musical events, but scheduling conflicts pressed me into duty instead.
However, I found the presentation enthralling. Sir James is a fascinating man, a great story teller and knows how to work the audience, all in addition to being a fantastic flautist. Listening to him advise each of the students on stage was interesting. Hearing him demonstrate the individual pieces was a delight.
It got me thinking about the unique position he found himself in early in his career, namely how to learn to play an instrument when your talent surpasses that of your teacher. As in any other area, he had to develop his own techniques and establish his own goals, often breaking with conventional wisdom. I must say that hearing the result, he was obviously on the right track.
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