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


Beethoven: Six Bagatelles - no. 1

Interpretation Class
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John Stapleton (marimba)

“You’re using the instrument for its beauty and for the gorgeous sounds, making gorgeous shapes.”

— Benjamin Zander

Video Transcript

Ben Zander: Oh, my God, you are something. Goodness me. You’re a beautiful player.

John Stapleton: Thank you.

Ben Zander: I mean, it’s just the sound of that instrument. It’s like magic.

John Stapleton: Yeah.

Ben Zander: So beautiful. I have very little say to you are a beautiful player sometimes because of the nature of the instrument you are playing is vertical rather than horizontal and-

John Stapleton: Or just being a percussionist in general.

Ben Zander: Right. All percussionists suffer from that, and harpists too incidentally. They play as if it’s a percussion and pianists too often. So, the only thing I would say to you is, think of the musical line and maybe move it a fraction more. Like that in andante. Let’s try that together a little bit. So, we get that phrase one, two.

Ben Zander: Good. I love the way you do that. Did you you could do even. Little free. I just So emotional and romantic.

John Stapleton: Right there.

Ben Zander: Let me just say one thing to you. You are of enormously dedicated and serious musician, but you’ve played one little passage three times and you made the same mistake each time. So, when you are practicing, take that little passage, just those few notes and play it 5, 6, 7 times until you’ve got it absolutely clear. Would you just do that now? Right from here? Just that. Once again. No, don’t do trills. You can do trills.

Ben Zander: Now you made a mistake. Again. Now, don’t go on. No. Good again. No. Almost. You have to do it three times in a row.

John Stapleton: Three times in a row.

Ben Zander: Without making a mistake before you go on. Once again. No. Once again. Again. No, don’t go on. Don’t go on. You haven’t done. Again. Once again. We’ve got it. So now do from here.

Ben Zander: Yes, a little applause for you. That’s practicing. Practicing is taking one little difficult bar and playing it over and over and over again until you’ve got it and then playing it three times in a row without a mistake, then you can go on.

John Stapleton: Yeah.

Ben Zander: It’s really worth it. Okay. You’re great. You’re doing a beautiful job. I love the way you’re playing it. Now. It is free. It’s very musical and you are not the victim of this instrument on the contrary. You’re using it for its beauty and for the gorgeous sounds, making gorgeous shapes. It’s beautiful. Do you want to play the other one?

John Stapleton: I don’t know.

Ben Zander: Okay, this is fine.

John Stapleton: Yeah.

Ben Zander: In that case, let’s do them. Okay. Do once again. And he has this wonderful little word grazioso. You see that grazioso?

John Stapleton: Right.

Ben Zander: Like a beautiful ballerina lifted up in the air. Yes.

Ben Zander: Beautiful. Wonderful. Amazing. Look at this face, he is so delighted. I tell you what he’s delighted about, he’s delighted about the instrument, the sound of the instrument, the fact that you had to stretch like that to play, and he’s delighted by your musicality, by your beauty, by the sweetness of your playing. It’s a really It’s a wonderful combination. You’re great. Well done.

'I never knew about this instrument, it sound very beautiful especially the low notes! It seems very difficult to play so accurately as he does, impressive'
Athasit Watanawongsarat
'Fantastic. I love it.'
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