HP Artists: Best Advice

Several HP and Polyarts artists give their best advice and tips to having a great career in classical music

Stephen Hough pianistHarrisonParrott Foundation

Stephen Hough

If I had a motto it might be: ​‘Everything matters; nothing matters’. There’s a chapter about this in my latest book, Rough Ideas. We should take care in whatever we do. Every encounter with every human being is important and can create good or bad vibrations. A check-out person goes home to their family in either a good or bad mood and that can affect their children, which can affect other children at school etc. But in the end, nothing matters. We can get worked up about a phrase in a piece, but in 500 years’ time it’s not going to matter if I put that crescendo in my Beethoven sonata a bar too early. If we can keep these two ideas in balance I think we have a chance to be mentally healthy and joyful. 

Stephen Hough reads from his book Rough Ideas

Andreas Scholl, counter tenorHarrisonParrott Foundation

Andreas Scholl

My advice is to have patience and to move with the repose: make sure you progress and have ambition, but keep learning, and work with musicians who are better than you, so that you’re always stimulated by seeing how they work. That will help you become a great musician. 

Andreas Scholl & Tamar Halperin "Twilight People" Album

Ollie Howell composer dummer instrumentalistHarrisonParrott Foundation

Ollie Howell

I’ve always tried to be someone who’s says yes to everything, but it’s also important to know when to ask for help. You might know you’re going to be up against deadlines and need to bring in other people, or you’re just a bit overwhelmed – it doesn’t mean you can’t do something. It’s good to know when to ask for scheduling help or emotional assistance. Don’t be afraid to reach out rather than internalise all the stress.

Patricia Kopatchinskaja violinistHarrisonParrott Foundation

Patricia Kopatchinskaja

I think whenever one dares in music, one can never go too far. Any rules can be broken because music making is an exploration, a dream, a mystery, an experiment with an uncertain outcome. Read more here

Alban Gerhardt cellistHarrisonParrott Foundation

Alban Gerhardt

As a string player, I learn so much from singers – so many colours. I tell my students, don’t only listen to the cello – listen to great singers such as Fischer-Dieskau, Schwarzkopf or Wunderlich. Read more here

Istvan Vardai cellistHarrisonParrott Foundation

Istvan Vardai

Entering competitions and preparing the required repertoire in a limited time can be very helpful for performers. The key is that no one should ever take competition results too seriously. Whether they win or fall out in the first round, it doesn’t matter.
I entered many competitions as a useful way of getting performance experience, because ultimately, performing in public is how you develop your decisions and your own way of playing. You learn how to deal with pressure and stress, so it’s helpful.

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