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


Bach: Cello Suite no. 3 - Prelude

Interpretation Class
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Julia McLean (viola)

Our job is to go into the world full of energy and joy, be there and available, and give it away.”

— Benjamin Zander

Video Transcript

Ben Zander: Bravo. Very good. Very, very, good. You have not been wasting your time, Indiana. Wonderful. You’re sounding great. It’s just fantastic. You are very straightforward as a musician, which I love. You’re just direct and you are open in your matter of fact. And you produce the music as it comes. I think there is more storytelling in this piece. And I don’t mean by that romantic telling stories, I mean musical stories. Like all of Bach, I think this piece is a story in music. And it’s not quite coming out enough yet. So what’s happening at the beginning is you’re saying I’m going to play it at a lower octave. Do you mind? Because I’m a cellist. This is written for cello, so it’s really should be

Ben Zander: We’re in C major, right? That’s what it’s at. So do that Just do that scale Yeah. Why do you rush those two notes in the middle? You go No and then to C. Still make it a little more and then to C. So it’s very clear to everybody. What I call Aunt Mabel. Do you know Aunt Mabel? She knows what she likes. She doesn’t know anything, but she knows what she likes. Aunt Mabel says, “Ah, that’s in C major.” Right? Because that’s what she’s saying. “I’m in C major.” So have a noble and then to C. Just do that. Again and then to C.

Ben Zander: Good. We’ve reached C. Now, what happens? C to C to C. And then it goes again to C. Just in case you weren’t quite sure, Aunt Mabel, now really knows it’s in C. So let’s have those Cs. Here we go. Come a little closer so that we can talk together here. All right. So

Julia: Over here?

Ben Zander: Yeah. Here. Breathe in and then to C Now you’ve got it. We’ve done it. This is so natural, isn’t it? And I would make it very even, because it’s Bach, and he wants the He’s very architectural and he wanted things so It doesn’t mean that it should be metronomic, but it should be even. Just do it one more time. Together. Great. C. Now, what happens? C. We do it C to B then to A then to G. And that is the dominant of C.

Julia: Right.

Ben Zander: Right. So let’s go on that journey together, from C. C Yeah. I wouldn’t hang around on that E, because Where are we? Oh to B. So you’re telling the audience, C goes to B. And they can all hear it. Even Aunt Mable can hear it. So here we are. From there and then to B. Can you help the audience Just help a little bit with the last two notes. So Just help them. And you might actually, while you’re playing You just look up to check whether they’re with you. Should we try once again from C? Here we go. C. C Help them a little Right. Do it once again. Yes. And this gentleman is beaming from ear to ear because he understands what’s going on. It wasn’t his fault that he didn’t understand it, it was our fault. It’s our job to make this lovely gentleman understand how the music is working. All right. Have you got your G? Now, what happens when he gets to G?

Ben Zander: He’s kind of wondering about it because he doesn’t quite know what to do. Oh, I see what he’s going to do So he’s playing harmonies. So should we try from G? Help him a little bit. Just help him a little. Right? You might look over it, make sure he’s with you. Okay. Once again. From G, he’ll Now, what’s happening is the G has gone down to F to E and we’re in A minor. Right? That’ll help him a little bit. There And just check every now and again to see if he’s still smiling. Okay? Now, we’ve reached A minor, which is dangerous because it’s rather related to C major. So he said, “I don’t want to be there. It’s too early.” And so he changes his mind and says, “No, I’m not going to go there.” And then he does Now comes a very interesting thing And that’s a building line. So, should we do it from there? And then we do it one more time. So, G major.

Ben Zander: You see how lovely it is when you do that in two-bar units? Very, very peaceful, isn’t it? Because it’s Isn’t that lovely? Should we try it from there? Two, and From the A minor. Make it very even Because nothing’s happening to suggest unevenness. Ready? Again. Now, this is right. This is going to be a very important arrival place. So we want to get quieter and quieter as it comes down. That’s beautiful. And notice they’re also in two-bar units. Because this, you It’s every other bar. From C major. Quiet as you can.

Ben Zander: Isn’t that amazing? It’s building and building, like a huge organ in a cathedral, isn’t it? And there’s a beautiful thing here. There are two bars Now here starts a sequence. So you bring out that sequence. Two bars, and then from there. Now here’s Yeah. Go, go, go, go. Yeah. That’s where the sequence starts. So you need a little bit of time to tell the audience because otherwise, you won’t know.

Julia: Right.

Ben Zander: Right. That there’s a sequence. Here we go. Two bars. Now Yeah, no, no. Go, go, go. That’s an incredible arrival point, isn’t it? The dominant Oh my God, that’s so exciting. So make sure that that is So once again, just from the beginning of the sequence. From Sorry, from there. And feel that the G is like a pedal note on an organ. We’ve arrived on the C major chord at last, right? It’s been all that time building and building and building. And when he gets to the C major, OMG. What would you do from here? Right. From there.

Ben Zander: And that’s like a cord in a cathedral, it’s going to fill out the whole cathedral. That was great. Do it from here. But when you get to Each one is more, from here Can we make the high note even more so that we really feel the intensity. Just how you went Here It’s the same thing, upside down, isn’t it? Yeah. Don’t rush. Don’t write And 1 2, 3 2, and 3, 2, and

Ben Zander: Fantastic. You see, that power that he’s built. This is a small instrument with an enormous soul. With an enormous soul. And when you get finally you’ve arrived. You know, this guy had 20 children. Do you know that? Bach had 20 children. I mean, just think about it. It’s just so much energy, so much power. Do it one more time. The last time. We are just right there. So from You know how great that was when you had that coin And Each note is E, E flat, D, and finally C All of that. Should we do that once again? From the big chord. It’s silly. Do it from here, one last time. And it’s the last time you’ll ever do it. You will leave and you’ll be run over by a bus. Right? And then we’ll write to your parents. We say, “We are so sorry, Julia didn’t

Julia: They’re over there.

Ben Zander: Over there. I’m so sorry. You should have heard the last time she did, it was incredible. Here. Once again, from here. Don’t rush. It’s a terrific arrival point.

Julia: Yeah.

Ben Zander: Yes. Bravo. Well done. Well done. Beautiful. Beautiful. That’s beautiful. That’s why we do it. Do you know what Bach wrote when he finished a piece of music? Do you know what he wrote on the score? He wrote, “For the glory of God.” Isn’t that great?

Julia: Makes sense.

Ben Zander: It wasn’t for himself. It was for the glory of God. Or whatever God means to you. I think of possibility as being the word of God. It’s an opening up of the human heart to be available to everybody. And that’s what you were just doing. We don’t play music for ourselves. We play music for the beautiful faces, reactions, and shining eyes. That’s why we do it. Isn’t it great? I mean, that’ll get you up in the morning. Really, it’s just such a joy. And Bach is so full of God. Enthusiasm is the Theo, in the word Theo in Theo, that’s God. So it’s full of God or full of possibility. Our job is to go into the world full of energy and joy, be there and available, and give it away. And that’s what you’re doing now. Before, you were a little bit just in the mode of playing, playing very well. But it didn’t touch the soul. It didn’t get people to say, “Wow, that’s what I want to do with my life.” All right. Isn’t that great? Well, thank you so much. Beautiful.

Kayla Patrick
'I get so much inspiration from these videos'
Lynn Rixson
'Absolutely fabulous as usual. So inspirational Ben is one whole step further when it comes to interpretation'
'Wow, amazing teaching session here, and she truly listens and applies what he's asking of her.'
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