Zakhar Bron picks 7 year-old Japan kid

Zakhar Bron picks 7 year-old Japan kid


norman lebrecht

January 27, 2020

This is Himari Yoshimura performing last month at Russia’s International Nutcracker Competition for Young Musicians, with Zakhar Bron applauding at the centre of the jury.

She had already won the Grumiaux Competition. Zakhar made sure she went home again with first prize.

One feels nothing but anguish and sympathy for the poor child.



  • Tiredofitall says:

    I used to be enchanted when I saw this sort of prodigy. A bit wiser in my later years, I now totally concur with your anguish and sympathy comment. And, yet, we have these competitions that encourage this sort child labor. I hope this young girl is given some sort of a balanced childhood. If not, it will plague her in adolescence and beyond.

    • John Marks says:

      I gave violin lessons to my two children who are now adults, both to see if they had a huge interest, and also to perpetuate my own pedagogical lineage, which goes back to Viotti in 18th-c. London, via Leopold Auer.

      I have had a lifelong interest in early-childhood music education, which actually could have been a career path for me. (My daughter got to the point where she played a solo accompanied by her middle-school student orchestra; but from then on, she concentrated on voice.)

      I will now invent a datum based upon my vicarious observations over the course of several decades. (BTW, I knew Ruggiero Ricci, he of the famous, “Put them all up against the wall; then finish the job by shooting the parents!”)

      Perhaps as many as nine out of 10 child music students and/or “prodigies” are forced into it by parents, for a variety of reasons.

      But perhaps one in 10 of those kids discover that playing the violin or the piano puts them on the path to discovering what Eric Whitacre calls one’s “true self.” They take to practicing and make forward progress like a duck to water. They discover the inner logic of the instrument, the inner logic of music notation and theory, and, most of all, they discover “the music inside the music.”

      I had years of lessons, but I only had that moment of discovering the “music within the music”… once. Playing a bit of Bach’s D-minor Partita, I suddenly discovered that there was a separate “music” going on, apart from the sound of the notes.

      That inner music is made up of the motions of the fingers of the left hand and the the movements of the left hand among positions. It has a different pace and a different rhythm.

      But focusing on that inner music made the surface music go better. Had I been able to summon that magic at will… perhaps I never would have gone to law school.

      There is a distressing amount of evidence piling up on the subject of music education that crosses the line into leaving the child worse off for the experience:

      To quote: “There’s no surefire way to become an elite violin soloist, but there’s one thing in particular you can do to help your odds: Be born to musician parents. Even then, you’re probably screwed.”

      But I think it is equally true that if a child is that 1 in 10 (or 1 in 100) for whom studying music is a source of joy, it would be cruel to deprive them or squelch them. And the same can be said for: Chess, higher math, martial arts, bicycle racing, and many other things. There are kids whose parents push them into modeling or acting, right?

      I was tremendously impressed by the young violinist in the YT. My only criticism would be that she was watching her fingers, which at that level should not be needed as feedback, and can be counter-productive.

      Anyway, as was written in China ages ago, in this case, Truth will be the daughter of Time.


  • Mick the Knife says:

    “One feels nothing but anguish and sympathy for the poor child”. Not just one, judging by the other comment here; so you’ve got that on your side. But I don’t feel anguish at all and certainly not sympathy. She looks at ease and enjoying herself playing a Paganini Caprice on Youtube. For that reason, I enjoyed listening to her and she is quite good. Perhaps for this little girl, playing violin comes naturally as one would expect for the rare prodigy so she gravitates to it. Are you aware that there are child prodigies in math, physics and other fields, not just music? And guess what; they are gifted, not necessarily exploited, and enjoy their instrument like you enjoyed your dump truck or toy gun during your joyful youth.

    • Anon says:

      Poor little girl. Those who think it’s ‘talent’ and comes ‘naturally’ are absolutely deluded, have zero practical experience with such matters, and are why sad sights like this exist. Because of her parents’ and her teacher’s ambitions, this little girl’s childhood has so far been ruined. I won’t speculate how early she started playing and how many hours she has already practiced, but the latter is in the thousands for sure. Yes she plays great, for her age is magical playing. But at what cost?….you can see the suffering on her face……and I’ll be damned if in 10 years she’s happy with her life and happy to play the violin. Some souls have horrible fates unfortunately….

      • John Marks says:

        You write:

        “you can see the suffering on her face”

        I ask:

        Could you be projecting a bit, “Anon”?

        Perhaps she just has a serious face.

        I do have some experience in such matters, having been the parent of two talented (but not pressure-cooked) children. As well as having hung out on the periphery of music education for decades. (I also organized and presented the chamber-music performing-arts series at Thomas More College in New Hampshire (US), but my audience was college-age liberal-arts students.)

        Yes, at her age, one cannot play an eight-minute virtuoso piece from memory on half an hour or one hour’s daily practice. But think for a minute and please explain to me how that is fundamentally different from a kid whose parents really really want their kid to figure-skate in the Olympics, or play NBA basketball.

        I knew a future famous NBA player many years ago. When he was a teen, his weekend practice regimen was a minimum of one thousand two hundred practice free-throw shots a day. But he usually did 1,500. And after every shot, he chased down the ball as though the hounds of hell were after him.

        But when he made it to the Boston Celtics… he was one of the weakest members of the team.

        A friend of mine knew Larry Bird. Even at the height of his career, Bird would stay and practice after everyone else went home, until the security crew would ask him to go home, so they could go home.

        As the old wisecrack goes, nobody wants a doctor who says, “You have cancer and I have no idea what to do; so, why don’t we discuss Faulkner instead?”

        You can’t get a bronze medal in figure skating or gymnastics unless you have devoted that kind of time. Anyone with authoritative first-hand knowledge of those fields, feel free to correct me.

        I have no idea what the future holds for this little girl. As my friend Jack Baruth rhetorically asked, “How do you keep them down on the (cubicle) farm, once they’ve played Paganini?”

        Perhaps she will go to the Rhode Island School of Design, and study fashion design.

        I am not claiming any firsthand knowledge of the situation, and perhaps her parents ignored her druthers and presented her with a fait accompli. Or, threatened, explicitly or implicitly, to withhold their love.

        AFAIK, Heifetz gave off the vibe of being a rather miserable soul, and Menuhin, at the end of his autobiography, wrote that that he wrote it in part just to prove that he was “normal.”

        R. Ricci would never have said what he did about child prodigies if his personal experience had been on the whole positive. So, I understand why this video might raise some red flags.

        But, on balance, in the absence of any other evidence, I think you might be projecting. A bit.


  • Ivana says:

    Hanno detto angoscia e simpatia
    Non sapevano forse come interpretare ciò che ascoltavano forse.
    Un suono bello, ricercato, sopratutto nella intonazione ed una interpretazione magnifica e appassionata degna di una grande interprete.