Anne-Sophie Mutter, 52, is regarded as the best violinist in the world. She owns two Stradivarius violins, an Emiliani from 1703 and a Lord Dunn-Raven Stradivarius from 1710, and believes that an instrument can take several hundred years to attain its peak performance. With her foundation she nurtures young talent. For her latest CD, “Live From the Yellow Lounge,” she ventured into the RAW-Gelände, a complex of derelict railway workshop buildings, now a counter-culture hub in the east Berlin neighborhood of Friedrichshain. This month, the mother of two will be performing at the Berlin Philharmonic.
Tagesspiegel: Ms. Mutter, you were a child prodigy, at 13 years old you performed with the star conductor Herbert von Karajan. Then came the launch of your international career. Do you have any tips for parents who want to get their children enthusiastic about learning an instrument?
Ms. Mutter: The best way is to start when the child is around five, without too much explanation. Just put a little fiddle, or a recorder, or a drum into the child’s hands. These instruments can also be borrowed. The most important thing is, though, that music plays a role in the everyday. The child has to feel that Mama and Papa think it’s cool. If classical music plays on the radio at breakfast time, it’s not going to be the end of the world. One does not always have to sit quietly in the corner, with the hands clasped.
For me it’s an obvious thing to take small children to the opera. Some don’t dare do that because they’re afraid the child will cause a disturbance. You don’t find these concerns in Eastern Europe or in the Far East. There are two possibilities: Either the child falls asleep or is enraptured. Opera can be as natural as going for a walk, or doing handicrafts.
Good, the child snatches up the recorder and blows into it. After an hour, the parents feel like their skulls will explode. What happens then?
Oropax. I can highly recommend the wax version. Look for a music school and let the child try out different instruments. It worked for my children.