I can. But it is a skill that requires serious practice, not just for the sake of learning the violin, but because even once you have mastered the instrument you need to learn it well.
This is something that my teacher, John Ems, was the first person to emphasize. John always said, “If you want to learn to play, the only thing you need to do is go out and find a willing student.” So, I used to play every day in the apartment of my friend, the bass player for the Brooklyn Philharmonic. It’s always been easy for me to get out there and play.
I love the sound of the violin, and what I love the most is the fact that you have to pay attention to the notes and you have to get it right. The fact that it is something you have to focus on for hours makes everything more rewarding.
I think that you have to be committed to it and you need to be ready to do whatever it takes. But I also think that playing the violin at 30—that’s the reason why you want to get it right.
What are you doing for your concert season?
I’m doing concerts for the first time with the Brooklyn Philharmonic from May 23rd through the 23rd.
When we do rehearsals it’s all about making the music come alive and doing it as well as you can. In every rehearsal there is nothing left to prepare for and nothing to do. We are in rehearsal for 24 hours a day. It’s crazy—it’s like a musical practice room with little lights and a violin. We’re working through our songs, not only with our ears but with our ears and eyes.
What do you do on a typical Thursday or Friday evening before your concerts?
Right before the concert starts on Thursday nights, usually at about 5.00 in the afternoon, my wife makes the best coffee in New York and takes every single drop of coffee off my tongue before singing. We’re out at a friend’s house. There is nothing interesting, so I don’t eat much. I eat a lot of vegetables and a few kinds of food—a lot of meat, fish, and eggs. When I have a little time I always go to the park to swim.
During the concert, on Friday evenings, the majority of my time is spent sitting in a little table reading music together. There are a lot of people who have never played or played very few years—
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