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Make deeply moving musical performances
Make deeply moving musical performances

Mon, Jul 18


San Francisco

Make deeply moving musical performances

Learn the most important skill musicians need: How to create musical performances that deeply move people.

Time & Location

Jul 18, 2022, 6:30 PM – 8:00 PM

San Francisco, 2 Waverly Pl, San Francisco, CA 94108, USA

About the Event

Why this course?

When we play music, we want the people who listen to have a moving experience. And we want that for ourselves, too! But can that really be taught?

Yes! you can learn how to create transformative musical performances—and that’s exactly what this course is all about.

Some former students say

“I used to get discouraged trying to figure out how my music should go. It felt like I was expected to just know how to do it. When I studied with Paul, I learned a clear method you can use to create great performances, and it has literally changed my life!”

  • Sarah F., Violinist

“If you want to understand how music really works and make your playing far more enjoyable, I highly recommend this course.”

  • Robert H., Cellist

Join this in-person course for musicians to learn the practical methods some of the world's top musicians use to create great musical performances. These methods set them apart in auditions and competitions.

The course is led by Paul Henry Smith, a former student of Leonard Bernstein and former conservatory professor. Some of Paul’s former students hold positions in major symphony orchestras, such as the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony, and the Detroit Symphony. Paul is excited to launch his newly revised and updated course for 2022.

What we'll cover

We start by briefly exploring how we perceive sound. What is universal about how we hear? How does sound alter our experience of time?

We analyze two simple musical phrases to see how harmony, line, and rhythm create musical motion. When we play the phrases as a group, we’ll learn how to hear and feel the musical motion, not just see it written in notation.

Lastly, as we play, we’ll focus on the process of fitting our sound with the musical motion inherent in the score. This is where the rubber meets the road. This is the process that leads to great musical performances.

What you’ll learn

After the course, you’ll know how to…

  1. analyze music to understand how harmony, line, rhythm create musical motion,
  2. read scores to understand what dynamics, timing, balance, and color, are needed at every moment, and why,
  3. align your sound with your understanding of the musical motion,
  4. critically assess whether your performance is inhibiting that motion, and how to correct it, if it is, and
  5. balance all of the elements of your performance so that a great experience might occur

How the course is organized

There are four sessions that meet one evening per week. Participants should plan to attend all four sessions.

Instruction takes place in a small group setting, at the piano, or with other instruments, and is designed to encourage questions, suggestions, and musical inspiration.

Each session focuses on playing music (this is not a course on music theory or reading music). So, participants should bring their instruments.

If you would like the instructor to focus on music you are playing or practicing, whether solo or as a small ensemble (duo, trio, quartet), please contact the instructor a few days prior to the session.

Who should take this course

This course is for high-school or undergraduate musicians and accomplished amateurs of any age who are open to exploring and developing their ability to create deeply moving musical performances. It is open to musicians at any experience level who want to learn how to go beyond just playing the notes, and who want to understand what it really takes to create a moving musical experience.

Teachers … do you have curious students?

If you have students who are deeply curious about how to play the music they’re working on—beyond the technical aspects of learning the instrument—and they light up when the discussion turns to “figuring out” how to play a phrase, this class is for them! Please sign them up, or have them do it. It’s free and there is no age limit.

About the instructor

The sessions are led by Paul Henry Smith, a former conservatory musicianship professor and student of Leonard Bernstein at Tanglewood and of Sergiu Celibidache at The Curtis Institute of Music. Paul has taught at Oberlin, Columbia, Brandeis, Harid Conservatory, and elsewhere. He has also led research projects at the MIT AI Lab and the MIT Media Lab into how technology can inform our understanding of musical performance. Paul also founded and led award-winning music tech startups, most recently at Harvard Innovation Lab where Yo-Yo Ma selected his company, Sonation, to receive seed funding.

Additional, advanced workshops

Participants in “How to make deeply moving music” may be eligible to participate as performing musicians in upcoming Symphonic Laboratory intensive ensemble workshops. Prior workshops included “Barber, Adagio for Strings,” “Mozart, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik,” and “orchestral excerpts for cello.”

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