Teaching chamber music: light-bulb moments

5. Magnus Johnston (front) with Navarra Quartet

Giving formal chamber music training to students during their school years is vital for fostering a lifelong commitment to the art, writes Graham Oppenheimer, senior chamber music tutor at Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester

I can still vividly recall my first experience of chamber music as a twelve-year-old at summer school. I was amazed not only by the ingenious construction of the finale of Mozart’s String Quartet in G major K387 but also by the freedom and brilliance of my own voice. I realised that my part mattered in this wonderful new medium. This was a real light-bulb moment that has always remained with me. Since then I have felt privileged to have had a career dedicated to chamber music, and as senior chamber music tutor at Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester since 2002, I have been able to create such opportunities for others. My fellow teachers and I feel passionately about the importance of chamber music for young string players and recognise that one of our very important tasks is to oversee similar light-bulb moments for our own students.

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