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IN THE PUBLIC EYE

The primary purpose of a musician is to be heard by an audience – yet so many performers are self-conscious about the idea of their practice being observed and judged. Perhaps it’s time to practise out in the open, writes Toby Deller

One of the curiosities of classical music is that a fear of being overheard should be so common in a profession so defined by listening. Many of us will have experienced this mindset taking hold when trying to practise in poorly soundproofed music rooms or shared accommodation. In our self-consciousness, we shy away from practising things that need work; we resort to playing passages where we sound assured, and spend time apparently working hard on problems that, in truth, we have already overcome. We feel anxious, not because our neighbours will complain about the disturbance, but because they will judge what they hear. Admittedly, this is more likely in a music school than in a block of flats, but even then the thought can nag away: ‘Is my practice really necessary?’

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About The Strad

In a French-themed issue, the Ébène Quartet discuss their huge Beethoven project and we examine the early violins of J.B. Vuillaume. There’s a look at Michel Colichon and Nicolas Lupot, and Jean-Luc Ponty gives his Sentimental Work. Plus a Masterclass on Schubert’s Arpeggione Sonata.