Considered one of the most important influential composers and musicians of his generation, Ezio Bosso, who is also a conductor, happens to be from my same city, Torino.
There is another thing we have in common: we teach. So, when I heard he was going to lead an open music lesson in the city center, I decided to attend it. Not without feeling a bit uncomfortable.
If you attend a lesson with a worldwide known “maestro”, the title we give to the greatest artists, but also to primary school teachers, you would expect to enter an exclusive club made of the most prominent conservatory students. I was wrong. But let’s start from the beginning.
Ezio Bosso was born and raised in Torino and started to read and play music at the age of 4. Along with a successful career that brought him all over the world, he started a lifelong friendship with an important institution of TORINO, Opera Pia Barolo. Located in the palace of the same name, Opera Pia was funded in 1864 by Marchioness Giulia Colbert Falletto di Barolo to continue the activities of human promotion and social service that the Marchioness and her husband Tancredi carried out throughout their life. So, in a beautiful baroque hall stands the piano of Maestro Bosso, who can come here and play it anytime he needs to find a quiet and cocooning home. In return, twice a year, he gives the opportunity to anyone to come and study with him.
“Come to play, sing or just listen” is the motto of Zusammenmusizieren, making music together”. All you have to do is follow the Facebook page, once you find a post with the words “Ezio Bosso” “Zusammenmusizieren” send an email to email@example.com or call the number +39-011-263 6111 and book your place. You’ll only have to pay 5 Euros. The ticket also includes a visit to the Palace. If you are a musician or a singer, bring your instrument and the score to play or sing, and have a seat. Don’t worry if you play the piano, you’ll find one there. And if you are a music enthusiast like me, just come and take a seat.
Once in the room, Maestro Bosso will ask if there is anyone willing to play something. Up your hand, and reach the center.
I was impressed by the great level of the students. And enchanted by an environment that is everything but closed or exclusive.
So, what did I learn from the open lesson? First of all, that as a teacher, I still have a lot of things to learn (Socrates, I know you are reading and laughing). But here are some ideas given to musicians that can be applied to all our daily activities (Mr. Bosso’s own words will be in brackets).
1. Use your Body Language. A young man, aged 18, stands up, goes in front of Mr Bosso, and starts playing his violin. 15 minutes after, the conductor points the attention to his body language. “Besides telling what is happening to those who are watching you, your body helps you in interpreting a musical piece. You have to work on body and space. And believe in what you do”. Does Mr. Bosso know what Amy Cuddy teaches? In order to succeed in your insecurities you must “fake it till you become it”, says Doctor Cuddy. You need to believe in what you do, and in what you want to deliver to your public. Otherwise, your audience will be misled by a wrong message. Or won’t completely get what you mean.
2. Exit your comfort zone. “Try to push yourself towards your limits, exaggerate and emphasize a gesture and then, eventually, you will reduce it in a second moment. Every time you remain in your comfort zone, you play out of tune.”
4 Follow your body. “There is something called “Body Memory”. We all have it, but it must be developed. When you play in the morning, the light hits you in a specific way. But at night, with less light, you see differently. Your hand knows how to move though, because it remembers the space. Our body is more intelligent than ourselves, so listen to it.”
5 Highlight beauty
“We almost tend to forget good things. We must remember them instead. And emphasize the best gestures. And to me, beauty is not in the hand that holds the bow, but in the vibrating one which grips the upper part of the violin. That is the gesture that has to be put in prominence.” Isn’t this a way to fight bad moments? Instead of remembering and mourning negative stuff, we should plunge ourselves into beauty. And remember good things instead.
6. Break it down. “When you are playing and you feel something is going wrong, just stop and listen. This is what I do” said Bosso “I stop, listen and observe”. To me, this man looks like nothing but a Zen Master. And as a Zazen disciple myself, I couldn’t agree most.
7 Keep it simple. “It’s so difficult to be simple. But when it is clear, also the most difficult music belongs to us. If it is not clear, the distance gets bigger”.
8. Breathe. “Music is in pauses, not in the notes. We need each element, and the moment between two notes is as important as the notes themselves. Music goes alone, you must focus on the rhythm, on your breath, on your voice”. This was the tip given to a young singer. I’ve never considered music from the silence point of view.
9 Get ready to time travel. “Music allows us to travel through time. Studying means to learn about yourself. Not knowing more on a specific subject. Learning about our failings in order to improve”.
And finally something that all the teachers should have clear:
10. “you have to find your own way. A good teacher can’t tell you how to do things. You do. And then eventually he will tell you if the undertaken route is the right one.
Zusammenmusizieren is an event that takes place twice a year. Mainly in weekends, so if you plan a trip to Torino, do not miss it. You might meet me there. Between pauses and notes. I’m the one who just listen.