The Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing has about 1000 university-age university music students and another 1000 high school-age students. They call them middle school students. There are two large buildings that house the students, rehearsal rooms, concert halls (2), dining facilities and practice rooms. One of the buildings is 15 floors and the top five floors are all practice rooms; 75 rooms per floor. From walking through the practice facilities I get the sense the majority of students are pianists and string players.
The studio and practice room building of CCOM.
The view from my 15th floor practice room.
After breakfast, I gave a 2 1/2 hour master class to one of the three university trumpet studios. There were about 25 of them and after I talked a little about music in the states and general warm up ideas, I worked with four of them. One of them played a French turn of the century piece I had never heard of, another played Jolivet, another played the Bitsch Variations and another decided to take his master class opportunity and sight read in front of me. He played the 2nd Charlier etude. All of the students in this particular studio “live” out of the Clark Technical Exercises book. It clearly showed as all of these students that I heard had absolutely stunning technique. Astounding, really. They all had very efficient tones, great breathing and posture, poise and were very relaxed and respectful. However, none of them were very musical. There were no taking chances, going out on a limb to be expressive or general nuance. I was surprised because the technical aspect of their playing was so advanced. I don’t know if the lack of musical sophistication was just an age thing or perhaps cultural. Anyway, I do another class on Thursday, perhaps I’ll be able to form a better opinion after that.
Following another very fun rehearsal with my pianist, I went to the evening concert which consisted of the festival host, Fan Lei (clarinetist) playing with The Muir String Quartet from Boston. Absolutely wonderful, expressive beautiful playing all around. Fan Lei’s playing should be an example to the studio I worked with. This guy, “the Big Dog” plays with so much expression, it’s absolutely captivating.