Professor of Viola and Chamber Music at the Conservatorium Van Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands
What do you look for in a prospective student?
I look for potential based on technical and musical ability, and most importantly, an individual voice. I get most excited about students who are hungry for challenges and new ideas.
What are the particular advantages or challenges of studying at this institution?
Alongside the tradition of ‘authentic’ practice in the Netherlands, the school offers a broad range of possible study for students so they can become not just good violists but complete musicians. Students learn primarily with one teacher but receive additional coaching from all the other professors, so every student gets the best guidance.
How would you advise students to prepare for an audition?
Have a diverse repertoire, show your own personality and, depending on the level of study, know what you are looking for. Be prepared to talk about your ambitions, motivations and difficulties.
What is the most common problem you face when students first arrive?
I’d prefer to call them ‘challenges’ rather than problems: every student needs a personal approach according to their needs. It’s important to take the time (and have the patience) to change their technical set-up if necessary (posture, breathing, bow hold). Amsterdam offers so much of everything, with its culture and nightlife, that it can become the biggest distraction. However experiencing that is also a very important part of growing up, not just as a musician but as a person.
Is there any general advice you would give to someone thinking of applying to music college?
Our profession is the best there is, but be aware that by choosing it as a profession you might lose your favourite hobby. Expectations in this field of work are extremely high, but if you are willing to go for it completely and you have the necessary talent, do it!