Anyone who has ever been interviewed by Israeli media will flinch at the directness of the question, Itzhak takes it with practised equanimity.
What kind of a teacher are you? “I think an okay one,” he laughed a sonorous, free laugh, and not for the last time in our conversation. “I’m not old fashioned; I don’t believe in forcing students, and I remember how much I hated practicing myself. My first teacher would blame my parents if I didn’t play well, ‘You don’t make him practice!’ Even today, I hate practicing, but at least I understand that it’s important.”
How do you identify talent? “Sometimes it’s enough to look them in the eye. Once a child understands what he’s playing, I can identify that in his playing. The really talented have special instincts and an ear that reacts in a way that others don’t.”
Can anybody learn to play? If I practice 12 hours a day, will my zero talent turn into something? “Maybe. They say that a good teacher is measured by what he manages to get out of average talent, not out of geniuses. Sometimes, you teach someone for two years, and suddenly, during a lesson, something happens, this thing that you’ve been waiting for breaks out. It can bring me to tears. But zero talent is maybe a bit of a problem,” he laughs aloud again.
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