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On That Note: Exposing Students to Music

Hugues Argence
Cellist Robert Cohen

Every month, Lake Effect brings you On That Note, a series of conversations with cellist Robert Cohen. The Milwaukee-based Fine Arts Quartet brings Cohen state-side quite often, but he also maintains an apartment in London to accommodate his active solo career.

Recently, he's been working with students in England, introducing them to music as a profession and giving them live performances with his cello. After a recent school visit, Cohen says he was unsure about how the students had received his presentation. 

"They were kind of surprised, they weren't sure how to behave," he says. "Then I saw them about an hour or two later and they were suddenly rushing up to me and asking me questions. It was as though it just took that time for them to absorb the information and then they got really excited about things or wanted to talk about it. I thought that was a real lesson to learn abut how people or children respond to things. That when they're absorbing it they don't necessarily show you that they are excited, or that they're interested." 

Cohen has had the chance to work with students of varying abilities, some who have never played an instrument and others who plan on making music their careers. At one arts school, Cohen worked with kids ranging from twelve to seventeen years old, and was amazed by their ability to indulge in the music. 

"What I saw in certain groups was this lack of inhibition, this kind of involvement in the music where you see the children lose themselves in the music and they're somehow free to play amazing masterpieces with a kind of abandonment, an excitement, an enjoyment," he says.

Bonnie North
Bonnie joined WUWM in March 2006 as the Arts Producer of the locally produced weekday magazine program Lake Effect.
For 35 years one of the worlds leading cello soloist, Robert Cohen is an award-winning recording artist, conductor, artistic director and pedagogue who has been broadcast on TV and radio throughout the world. His passionate views on the art of learning, performing and communicating music have been widely published.