Martha

 
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她是我的恩師、我的動力、我的靈感,也是我來到波士頓的契機。

她是,知名中提琴家Martha Strongin Katz。

但是當年的我其實不熟悉Martha的教學方式,只知道她是鼎鼎大名的Cleveland Quartet創團成員,還有就是我高中時的中提琴老師Donald McInnes對她十分的尊敬。他說當時他們都在南加州大學時,她是William Primrose最優秀的得意門生,常常和海飛茲同台演出。

三年前戰戰兢兢的去上第一堂個別課時,一進門Martha就要我先把琴盒放下,全身放輕鬆站穩然後深呼吸。和音樂無關,只是任何時候在演奏前,都要想像且感受全世界的支持都從腳底傳來,屏息以待我們的演出。而就是這樣的支持,讓我們可以盡情的拉出每一個音。

 Cleveland Quartet在白宮為Jimmy Carter總統演出。

Cleveland Quartet在白宮為Jimmy Carter總統演出。

Martha無時無刻都是親切大方的,每一堂課的第一句話總是how was your week? 放假中也會抽空打電話聊天。無私的關心著我們的學習還有生活,領著所有學生互相支持。

就像她的音樂一樣,Martha給人的總是寬闊和溫暖的感覺。在每週的大班課裡,師丈總會帶上一盒手工餅乾。不管是誰拉,也不管當天表現的好不好,我們所有人都會熱情的鼓掌,因為Martha也一直都是這樣為我們鼓掌的。她會要求每一個人都要發表意見,滿意的聽完後,她的魔法就出現了。

在一顆顆黑色音符中,找到珍珠的魔法。

我們都容易嚴苛的看到自己和別人的缺失,尤其在要求完美的古典音樂學習的路上,每個人都執著於某個錯音,某個換弓,甚至某次沒有一百分的演出。但即使再不完美,Martha卻總是可以找到我們的優點,即使渺小,她卻一直耐心的教我們如何把它放大。在這過程,每個人的優點都開始被發掘,缺點也慢慢的減少,拉琴變成找回自我的方法。

每個人都有不一樣的音樂,而她教導著我們的就是如何做自己,如何讓我們的音樂與眾不同。其實這應該是簡單的,每個人的詮釋都是獨一無二的,但我們總是充滿太多懷疑。她要我們以自己為榮,即使現在還是學生,也要以我們正在努力成為的未來自己為榮。

Martha說拉琴是件很美好很自然的事,如走路般。一首曲子甚至只個一個音到下一個音就像一段路程一樣。不管是拉得好,拉不好,演得好,演得不好都要好好的享受才值得,因為這都是我們在音樂道路上的一段旅程。

我們心中都有音樂,只是透過中提琴唱了出來。

而Martha,是首完美的歌。

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When I was accepted to Martha’s studio at the New England Conservatory, I was not particularly familiar with the school, but what I knew for sure was how fortunate I was. She is the founding member of the Cleveland Quartet and my former teacher told me repeatedly how much he admires her. He told me how Martha was William Primrose’s best pupil, how she performed with Heifetz, and how all the other students looked up to her. He also told me about her smile. 

Three years ago, when I nervously walked into the green studio for my very first lesson, the first thing Martha asked me to do was to put the viola away. Stand still, breath and relax. “Feel the support from the earth”, she said it with all the warmth in this world. Now, whenever I perform I always remind myself to take the time to feel grounded and prepare calmly. It was with that worldly support, I learned to play every note freely. 

Martha is always generous and kind. Every lesson began with How Was Your Week and she also called during holidays to see how we were doing. She selflessly cares for our studies as much as our lives, reminding us the importance of sharing and supporting one another. Martha truly is the embodiment of great artistry and human-being. 

In our weekly studio classes, no matter how one’s performance went, everyone would applaud for as long as we could, because that was how Martha applauded for us too. Then she would kindly ask for our comments and after we all spoke our minds, her magic would appear - the magic of finding pearls in the midst of  black notes. 

We were all trained to be critical for the “betterment” of ourselves - we buried our heads in wrong notes, crooked bow changes, and those failed performances in the past. But, no matter how immature our music sounded, Martha was always able to find good qualities in our playings, even the qualities we overlooked because how small they were. She taught us to believe in ourselves and our potentials, be proud of who we are trying to become. My time with her was an adventure of self-exploration, I let go of flaws and insecurities on the way, and I learned to walk forward with more confidence.

Martha said playing the viola is a beautiful and natural act, just like walking. Every note and every phrase is a journey. Life as an artist is a lifelong journey after all,  we need to enjoy it. Music lives within us, we simply sing it out through our violas. And Martha, she is the most wonderful song in my world. 

 Our green studio. 

Our green studio. 

 
Rayna Chou1 Comment