The American violist talks about learning how to relax and to not take things so personally


The following article is published as part of a larger ‘Life Lessons’ interview with violist Kim Kashkashian in The Strad’s February 2017 issue, out now – download on desktop computer or through The Strad App.

'Relax! Relax and actively listen! [My teacher] Karen Tuttle used to keep a notebook of observations on her students. When she shared it with us 30 years later, next to my name I saw that she’d written, ‘Oh, that poor child!’ I really was very tense indeed.

I once saw the composer György Kurtág teach a masterclass during which he reduced one student to a puddle of tears. His wife Márta, who was sitting in the audience, came up to him and said ‘György! György! Stop now!’ Only then did he see that the student was upset. ‘Why are you crying?’ he asked. ‘We’re just working on the music – we’re one musical family. Why are you crying?’ Once you can remove the personal and just concentrate on the music, you’ll be much happier and much more relaxed.

Recently my t’ai chi teacher told me, 'You’re using too much desire and not enough intention.'Thinking that way opens a lot of doors because it gets rid of the personal – things aren’t tied to

your feelings in the same way.'

To read the full interview with Kim Kashkashian, download The Strad’s February 2017 issue on desktop computer or through The Strad App.

Photo: Steve Riskind

Read: The wisest thing anyone ever told me: violinist Julian Rachlin