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Conservatory of Music

Guitar Shanghai at the Conservatory of Music

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Last weekend there was a Guitar Festival at the Conservatory of Music in Shanghai with Leonardo Bravo, Oliver Fartach-Naini, Lee Song-ou, Shingo Fujii, Shunsuke Matsuo, Achim-Peter Gropius and some others. There were not only a lot of concerts, but also a competition and some masterclasses, too.

And I feel honored that the organisator Prof. Ye Deng Min used the name of my association and blog for this festival. So Guitar Shanghai becomes more and more wellknown in Shanghai and China!

After the festival I ve met with Achim Gropius the German guitar maker. He repaired my Gnatek guitar some years ago and I like his guitars. We made some sightseeing together and I showed him the old part of Shanghai with the Yuan Garden. We finished our tour at the Grand Hyatt highrise in Pudong, in the Cafe at the 54th floor.

Recently there are so many guitar festivals and competitions in China and Asia! The next three festivals I know are in Changsha (Hunan Provinz China) from 19th till 22th of July and the Tarrega Malaysia International Guitar Competition from 7th till 10th of August. And then there will be the big Altamira Guitar Festival and competition in Shanghai from 22th till 26th of August. The concert of Eliot Fisk on 23th of August is already selled out….yep…

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The Guitar Symposium in Shanghai: Two lectures of Thomas Kirchhoff

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From May 22th through May 24th there was a Guitar Symposium at the Conservatory of Music in Shanghai with a lot of excellent concerts and lectures. Ye De Min, the guitar professor of the Conservatory and organizer of the Symposium invited a lot of extraordinary guitarists – like the young special talented Kang Jun Hong and the Japanese composer and guitarist Shingo Fujii, but also the German professor and organizer of the Iserlohn Guitar Symposium Thomas Kirchhoff to teach.
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I listened to two of his lectures and made a summary for you.
The first lecture was: “how to become a student for guitar at a German Music Academy”, the second lecture was: “how to develop a career with the guitar”
 
Thomas’ First Class:
How to study in Germany:

If you want to study guitar in Germany, you first have to find a Conservatory or a Music Academy and a teacher. You can find the website of each Music Academy by typing the www.hfm- (city of your choice).de. For example: If you want to study in Munich your address is: www.hfm-munich.de, or if you want to study in Detmold, the address is: www.hfm-detmold.de.
 
On the website of the Music Academy, you also can find a list of the guitar professors. It is strongly recommended to contact the teacher before the entrance examination. There are two times for entrance examinations each year. If you want to start in April (summer term), you have to sign up for the examination by December. The examination will take place in January. If you want to start in September (winter term), you have to apply by March and your aptitude test will be in June.
 
Before taking the test you should contact your professor. But please don`t give big gifts. This is not usual in Germany and will not help you. You can only give a small present like a box with Chinese tea or something like that, but that is of no importance and will not help you to get a better test.
 
Without playing the guitar, you need a second instrument and basic knowledge in ear training and music theory. And of course you have to understand and to speak German. The test for these subjects are different at each Academy, and some are easier, some are more difficult. You can find  more information on the website of your chosen academy.
 
The tuition fee in Germany is generally very low, so if you have around 1000 Euro each month you can live very well as a student. Students are allowed to work beside their studies too. Most of the guitar students have jobs as a guitar teacher at several music schools.
 
Foreigners are allowed to earn up to 400 Euro each month. For a German visa you also need to verify that you have a balance in a bank in Germany. The amount of this deposit changes from year to year, so please inquire about the current requirements.
 
A lot of Chinese think that it should be an advantage to study first in China, but for the subject “classical guitar” that is not true. The German guitar professors like to have young and flexible minds. You only need your high school preparation. But on the other side, there is no age limit in Germany. Theoretically you can study until you are a grandfather, if you find a professor who takes you. Sometimes this is easier or more difficult.
 
Sometimes there are 50 students who want to start at the same semester with the same professor, but only one place. And other times there are only four students who have applied for the entrance test, and three free places…that is luck…
 
Thomas Kirhoff`s second lecture: “how to develop a career with the guitar”
 
Most important beside good skills is your individuality. All the famous good players play differently. It is not necessary to win a lot of competitions to be a successful concert guitarist. People who can win the prizes in competitions are not always successful with playing good concerts. A lot of guitar players with great names never won any competition.
 
As important as your skills and your personality are “Vision and Will.” That means you need to have a vision of what you can give to the world and where you want to be several years later. You have to be realistic: are you made for the big international stages or more for to play in a restaurant?
 
If you know what you want to be, you need name cards, a website and a CD. It is better if you already have planned your second and third CD. And then you have two possibilities: one is to manage yourself and the other one is, to find a good manager to help with the details.
 
And it is very important not only to try once. If you really love what you are doing, you will try a lot of times and do not give up so fast. Being a musician takes persistence.
 
And if you want to make a living from concerts, you have to see what kind of other requirements you have. To become really rich playing guitar, is not easy or almost impossible. But if your requirements are not too high, it is possible to live a happy life with playing guitar.