MPO Academy – Meet the tutor #1 – Sonja Larson
1. Delineate your role within the MPO Academy.
I am a violin tutor, working one-to-one with my students on solo and orchestral repertoire, while also participating in the Malta Youth Orchestra rehearsal preparations and concerts.
2. What inspires your pedagogical approach?
My approach is inspired by my experience as a professional musician in the US as well as the many influential approaches I have gathered over the years from pedagogues around the world. I do not subscribe to one school of thought, but rather allow myself to be open about what works for the individual student. I tailor my knowledge to each person I work with.
3. What are your goals as an MPO Academy tutor?
The Maltese musicians I work with have the talent, dedication and work ethic to succeed as professional musicians in Malta and abroad. My goals are to help my students approach a possible career in music with excitement, for them to feel inspired about their possibilities, and to nurture them on their way there.
4. What is the relevance of the MPO Academy to the local creative ecology?
The MPO Academy follows the worthy tradition of orchestral training in Europe. As the presence of Maltese cultural institutions grows in the national and international scenes, the Academy becomes increasingly relevant in attracting local and international talent. The training of Malta’s young musicians is vitally important to the Maltese creative community. My work is dedicated to nurturing these future professional musicians and teachers.
5. What advice would you offer to young musicians hoping to pursue a career in music?
In no particular order; Hone your fundamental techniques. Develop your ear. Attend as much live music as you can. Watch other musicians play in person, and not only performers who play your instrument. Practice regular stress relief. Spend time with likeminded people who support your goals and dreams. Create as many opportunities as you can to perform for other people. Five minutes of focused practice is better than an hour of playing. Practice makes better, worse, or nothing at all. Learn how to learn from others, including your teachers, peers, and other professionals. Lastly and most importantly: musical progress and growth are individual things. Remain focused on your own work and avoid comparing yourself. Your progress is yours alone.
6. How important do you think the work of cultural organisations is to the development of young musicians and the future of classical music?
The future of classical music partly rests upon the education of young musicians, and funding is needed to make this possible. Cultural organisations like the European Foundation for Support of Culture can be a great help in supporting educational experiences, granting proximity to great artists and providing opportunities for collaboration between peers and other professionals. Malta’s young talent deserves the financial support to succeed not only in Malta, but also in Europe and beyond.