Itzhak Perlman, the prodigy violinist who contracted polio as a child, was awarded a Kennedy Center Honor. He is considered the classical world’s most accessible virtuoso and, although he had no intentions of conducting, he found later that teaching and conducting were very important to him.
He believes that the most important thing is listening—really listening. Because he listens better now, he has more of an awareness of what he is doing. This is particularly important to him in his teaching as well.
He related how his first teacher would tell him what to do because if he didn’t she would “chop his head off.” His second teacher had a totally different way of teaching. When the violinist would play something for her, she would ask, “What did you think of that?”
Perlman responded, “What do you mean what did I think of it? I’m here to follow your orders.” His teacher prompted him to think about what he was doing.
At his famous teaching academy, Itzhak Perlman teaches his students in the mode of his second teacher and continually is rejuvenated at his students’ progress.