Ask the Teacher - Coosje Wijzenbeek


The violin and viola pedagogue shares her advice on competitions, repertoire and bringing out the best in a student

How did you become a violin pedagogue?

I started teaching when I was twelve years old. I never considered myself to be anything more than a mid-level player, but I have always had a natural sort of authority and ability to express musical opinions. What is more wonderful than enabling someone to perform without technical or psychological difficulties? I travelled far and wide to observe lessons by Ilona Fehér, Max Rostal, Pierre Amoyal, Dorothy DeLay and Herman Krebbers, and taught alongside Mimi Zweig as I created my own methods.

What interests you most about teaching?

To those who love teaching, open strings are just as interesting as a Brahms sonata. Without the first, the second makes absolutely no sense. It is more of a challenge to get a weak student to play at an acceptable level than to help a very good student become great. The intellectual and emotional challenge in teaching is how to unlock the best of what lies within each student. Good teachers do not give something to the student: they find ways of getting that something out. 

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