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The violist who studied with William Primrose explains how he passes on his mentor’s wisdom
You learnt with William Primrose – is there anything you remember from his lessons that informs how you teach?
Primrose’s teaching was a revelation. I teach my students to hold the viola in the way he taught me – holding it with the left hand instead of gripping it with the chin. This makes your playing very relaxed. He made all sorts of comments on my playing – some good, some not so good! He was a very particular fellow and didn’t let you get away with much. He didn’t accept many pupils so I felt very privileged.
Do you have a phrase you use often in lessons?
I’m always telling my students to practise scales. I encourage them to play all the major and minor scales with different nuances, or with different dynamics. Etudes are also really important. The Kreutzer studies work well for the viola. And there are the studies by Campagnoli – some are very, very difficult but they’re wonderful. They make you play way up in high positions. You develop great control that way.
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