“I realized that my job is to awaken possibility in others.”


Bach: Cello Suite no. 3 - Prelude

Interpretation Class
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Karlie Roberts (viola)

“Energy is contagious. If you have energy, they’ll have energy. And that’s the secret of great musicians. They have tremendous energy.”

— Benjamin Zander

Video Transcript

Ben Zander: Good. Very good. Bravo. Great. So Karlie, did you have fun playing that? Not much. Not much. You played very well. You’re a wonderful player. She’s at the beginning of her professional life. Last March, she was in high school. Right? So this is a big, big moment. Right? And you’re not having much fun yet. In about 20 minutes, you will be having a lot of fun, I promise. And for the rest of your life, you’re going to have a tremendous amount of fun. Okay? Are you willing to believe that?

Karlie Roberts: Okay.

Ben Zander: Okay.

Karlie Roberts: Yes.

Ben Zander: Because this music is a deep expression of joy and exuberance and for the glory of God. Right? So I would be willing to believe, to bet, that some of the people in the room were listening to you more intelligently than they would’ve if we hadn’t just gone through that thing with Amanda because it’s the same kind of music. Right? Did anybody find yourself listening for the You did. Great. So let’s do the same thing. We’ll do it We can do it quite quickly because it’s actually a simpler piece. The D minor is much, much more complicated and actually more controversial.

Ben Zander: This actually isn’t at all controversial. Come a little closer and let’s do this passage. Do you remember the passage where I discovered that A in the bass when she was playing, and it builds, and it builds? This is the equivalent here where you do this G It’s so obvious what it is, isn’t it? It’s somebody playing a G in a cathedral and filling the cathedral with sound. Can you just do that? Start from the right.

Ben Zander: Do you find this exciting? I mean, this music sort of building and building and building. If you were finding it Could you inform your face about being excited?

Karlie Roberts: Yes.

Ben Zander: Because at the moment, it looks as though as you’re It’s so And the sound of the instrument. And it wasn’t written for a viola, but a cello, and viola’s the same. If you can get a little more, I’ll tell you something very interesting about this. The first two bars Now at this moment, there’s a sequence starting. Now G That’s the See? You get that?

Karlie Roberts: Mm-hmm.

Ben Zander: Can you bring that out? So two bars, and then the sequence begins. Can you take a little time to help the ear? Because otherwise, they won’t know the sequence is beginning. Now.

Ben Zander: Great. That’s very nice. This is tremendously exciting. Imagine playing that in a big cathedral, how you would just make the most enormous sound. That will give you the tempo for the piece. That’s the right feeling. It’s the right tempo.

Karlie Roberts: Mm-hmm.

Ben Zander: So when you begin the same tempo That’s the tempo. And what he’s doing here – like he was doing in the D minor – he’s saying, C and then, to C. So C and then, to C. Just do that. C.

Ben Zander: Yeah. I wouldn’t stop along the way at all. and then and then to C.

Ben Zander: Right. That’s right. You’re right to take a little time on the C to make sure that everybody knows it’s the most important, but don’t take too long on it. It’s like water going over the

Ben Zander: Right. Now, what happens now? You ought to C. C. Then, it goes again to C. The note is saying, “Hello, I’m in C.” Can we try that? And into C. to C. C. Good. That’s right. It’s like a calling card. It’s says, “Hello. Hello. I’m C.” Right. Now, you arrive on the C, but you took so much time on the C that you couldn’t reproduce it.

Karlie Roberts: Okay. So this one?

Ben Zander: Right. So here B. D. A. And to G. Right?

Karlie Roberts: Mm-hmm.

Ben Zander: So just do from Do it one more time for the time. And could you be Could you pretend you are having a great time? It would be great. Say, “Hello, everybody. This is the greatest music ever.” Are you worried? Are you nervous?

Karlie Roberts: The first time. A little.

Ben Zander: No. Don’t. There’s no need to be nervous-

Karlie Roberts: I know.

Ben Zander:  because you’re a priest. You’ve got something to tell. Imagine if the priest went out and said, “Well, I’m not quite sure what I should say. I mean, I’m” No. He’s got to say it. I have a dream. Here we go. and to C. Good. Now and then it goes to C. The trouble is if you do that with that long C, then you have to do it

Karlie Roberts: Oh.

Ben Zander: So only take as long as you can reproduce it when you get to the B.

Karlie Roberts: Mm-hmm.

Ben Zander: Right? So C. And then to B. Then to A. And now to G.

Ben Zander: Can you see? Do you notice that I’m playing the rhythm very straight? Because there’s nothing in this music to suggest romantic pulling around. It shows Isn’t it? It’s just chords. And even, it isn’t even every bar. It’s every other bar. Isn’t that nice? It’s just very simple because it’s building up to such an enormous climax. So would you do from here?

Ben Zander: Now G. Now, go, go, go, go, go. Now, sequence. Build cathedral. More. More.

Ben Zander: That’s like in the D minor, that long delay when finally it arrives. And I would suggest, this is up to you, it’s completely personal, but I wouldn’t let the tension get down until you finally reach that C major.

Karlie Roberts: Mm-hmm.

Ben Zander: But now, the piece is beginning to have sense. It’s beginning to have an architectural shape. The audience can follow it because it’s all in one tempo and you’re not delaying over certain notes so much that it stops the impulse. Because the idea is to create a tremendous sense of motion of exuberance, of joy for the glory of God. That’s what it’s about. Right? So let’s just build that final climax one more time. Say from You can’t do the whole thing, but if you do from here And keep it going all the way. And when you finally get to the So that everybody in the audience says, “We’re home.” All right? From there. Or do from here.

Ben Zander:

Yeah. Already you’ve lost it. So Keep the energy. Keep it. Here it comes. Now we got it. Now we got it. And don’t kick the notes. Just water it. The way you would do it on a keyboard. Should we try one more time? And you’re going to make it more and more exciting.

Karlie Roberts: Yes.

Ben Zander: You know? There’s something wonderful about energy because it gets other people engaged. Energy is contagious. If you have energy, they’ll have energy. And that’s the secret of those great musicians like Rostropovich, and Yo-Yo, and all those people. They have tremendous energy. And people say, “That’s what I want. That’s what I want. That’s what I want.” So that. This afternoon, you will be leading 6 D in violas. Right? So they need your energy, and your joy, and your excitement, and your passion, and your desire. Right? To get to that C. I want to get to C. I want get to C. I want to get to C. I want to get to C.

Ben Zander: Right. Here we go. From there. It comes. Now. More. Here it comes. And do you remember that chord in the other piece? You know? When he suddenly went down to the G and the It’s the same thing. It’s exactly the same. And then there’s a huge pause. And then

Ben Zander: Right? Should we do that? That was great. Do from C And as he goes up, G A. D D. Each one is more, and more, and more, and more, and more. Nice. Here we go. Yeah. I want to remind you of something. Bach had 20 children. Let’s do the Here we go. Wait. 2, 3. Oh. 2, 3.

Ben Zander: Bravo. That’s it. That’s it. That was it. That’s it. You know? There’s physical energy, there’s emotional energy, and the spiritual energy. Physical energy, we know what that is. It’s just to play. Emotional energy is to care and love and be passionate about it. And spiritual energy is about taking people on a journey to a place they’ve never even dreamed of. And that’s what this music does. So now, imagine that when you leave this room, it’s a very sad story I’m about to tell you, you’re going to go out on the street and a car’s going to come and knock you over and kill you. Right? And it’s going to be very, very, very, very sad. And we’re going to send a letter to your parents who say, “I’m really, really sorry, Karlie, we lost Karlie today, but you should have heard her play the first movement prelude. It was unbelievable.”

Ben Zander: So could you play that way? And could you always play that way? You know? When you go into the orchestra today, you’ve got 16, 15 other violas who need you, who want you. They’ve been waiting all week for you. No, they’ve been waiting for me. Actually, they’ve been waiting for Mahler. Actually, they’ve been waiting for full life is what they’ve been Do you understand that?

Karlie Roberts: Yeah.

Ben Zander: Saturday afternoon’s for the youth orchestra. It’s just It’s like this guy, Raoul. Raoul got up this morning. Four o’clock?

Raoul: Oh yeah.

Ben Zander: You left New York. Right? And you drove here. Why?

Raoul: I want to see this.

Ben Zander: For this. Right. For this. Whatever it is we are giving, Raoul got up in the morning for four o’clock. And so, we cannot hold back. You get that?

Karlie Roberts: Mm-hmm.

Ben Zander: Because Raoul, we got to keep Raoul awake. We got to keep him awake.

Karlie Roberts: Oh, okay.

Ben Zander: Yeah. Now, this is all about Raoul. This isn’t about you at all. And if you have to look at the music, fine, but you don’t really need to look at the music. All right? Okay. Can you Yeah. Come, come, come. All right. And just think before you start what a journey this is. You know? Until we’re going to get to that end. Oh my God. That end is going to storm at the gates of heaven. Have you ever been there? Gates of heaven?

Karlie Roberts: No.

Ben Zander: No. Well, you’re just about to take a hundred people there and 10,000 people out in the world.

Karlie Roberts: Okay.

Ben Zander: And maybe 100,000 or 200,000 or 500,000. Isn’t that exciting? Doesn’t that get you off in the morning to think about that? You know Jacqueline du Pré? You remember Jacqueline du Pré? I’ve told this story, but it’s so wonderful. She was five years old. She was a year younger than that kid. She was playing the cello in a competition and she was so excited. She was running down the corridor like this. And one of the mothers said, “Well, I can see that you’ve played.” She said, “No, I’m just about to.” Isn’t that great? “I’m just about to.” She was five. She was so excited.

Ben Zander: How are you feeling now?

Karlie Roberts: Fine.

Ben Zander:  Excited. Exactly. Raoul is going to have the experience of his lifetime. He’s never going to forget this. Right? He won’t need the plane. Did you drive?

Raoul: Yeah.

Ben Zander: You drive. You are great. Fantastic. Okay. Here we go.

Karlie Roberts: Okay.

Ben Zander: All right. Here we go. Don’t think about your left hand. Think about Raoul.

Ben Zander: Good. Good. Good. So Karlie, you’re great. You’re great. And they’re saying you’re really great. Your playing is for them. And anyway, you can communicate whatever body, eyes, heart, breath; closeness is what we’re about. I couldn’t get I couldn’t get you. I was helping you, but I couldn’t get enough from you. So that’s the next thing for you. I mean, you are on a fantastic path and you’ve got the greatest teacher and you’re in a wonderful town and you’re playing in a great youth orchestra. It’s going to be fantastic.

Ben Zander: The only thing missing at this point is your open heart. Do you get that? Just open your heart to people like Raoul. He would come from Japan to hear you. It was just New York this morning. Do you get that? I don’t think musicians realize how powerful they are. I just don’t think they have any idea how much power we musicians have. People do ridiculous things for music, like getting up in the morning at four o’clock and saying, “I got to get to Boston.” Isn’t that amazing? I mean, isn’t that exciting? It really is exciting. If you could get that. And when you are practicing, think of Raoul. Look at his face. Isn’t that great? I mean, look at him. He’s just You should have a picture of Raoul on your practice.

Ben Zander: You get it? Look. We’ve never met before. This is our first meeting and we’re going to spend the whole year together, and we’re going to go on tour and we’re It’s going to be fantastic. But this is the beginning of a journey, of an openhearted journey. It’s going to be spectacular. Well done. Bravo.

Karlie Roberts: Thank you.

Jacques Lottering
'I have watched all these videos over and over in this series and can report I have interpretation of life, Mr Zander sees to that, but one draw back is when I go watch recitals at the local music society nowdays even though the artists are established and impress the average person, having taken in all Mr Zanders lessons I find most performances a little disappointing as I know they can do so much more with the pieces they playing, be more sincere and move an audience so much more. I am also a Tempi fanatic now - if I listen to a Beethoven or Bach piece and the artist is playing a safe tempi when it should be much faster I tend to skip it. Thank you Mr Zander for your lessons and please know I am richer for watching them.'
Caio Mata
'Energy, energy, energy Mr.Zander has such a fantastic spirit !'
David DeMar
'Ben Zander is a national treasure. He unlocked the young lady's true potential'
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