Amazing Kids! Magazine

Issue #29 – Maxim Eshkenazy, Pacific Symphony’s Conductor

Interview by Alex Paulk, student interviewer

AK: What do you believe kids gain from listening to classical or symphony music?

ME: Research after research shows that kids who are exposed to classical music will perform better in their academics. I think this is only the tip of the iceberg. Science is just starting to grasp the immense potential that classical music has over our lives. It is not coincidence that this music has survived for 300 years and in some cases more. There’s something special about it that cannot be explained with research and scientific examination.

AK: What have you learned from working with kids in an orchestra setting?

ME: In my work with high school students and conservatory students I have found that for most of them it is usually the first time that they’re experiencing the particular piece of music that we’re working on. That fact has an immense impact on the way I approach the music and how I work the music before and during rehearsals. I’m quite aware of the fact that for most of them, every rehearsal and every concert is a decision point. Their study loads in their school lives are so immense that the question to continue with music or not is constantly present. My job is to encourage them, make it fun and aim for excellence.

AK: Do you believe learning to read music is always necessary? If so, why?

ME: Musical literacy is important. It will only enhance any musical experience that one may have.

AK: Why do you think playing a musical instrument is a good activity for kids? What else do they learn through playing an instrument?

ME: It is excellent idea to learn an instrument. Albert Einstein contributed a major part of his discoveries on his musical sensitivity and intuition. He was a violinist.

AK: What composer is a good one for kids to start with if they want to develop an interest in classical or symphonic music?

ME: Mozart, Haydn, Bach, Tchaikovsky.

AK: What is the single most important thing parents can do to encourage their kids to have a deeper appreciation of music?

ME: Devotion and persistence; personal example and focusing on long-term goals rather than day to day fussing over practicing.

AK: What is your favorite genre of music, besides classical?

ME: I like Radiohead, Annie Lennox, The Beatles.

AK: Who was your biggest inspiration in your career choice as a conductor?

ME: Gustav Mahler