Let’s Talk Tuesdays

On Tuesdays, we watch talks or interviews with artists and designers and discuss how to present our work clearly and with confidence. This week we’ll hear from Mitsuko Uchida, a classical pianist and conductor.

As you watch this interview, consider these questions: Does the artist speak clearly and with confidence? Does she use gestures and intonation to emphasize her points? Does she smile and look at the camera? Does she use professional vocabulary?

(Note: These captions are in Czech translated into English, so the ideas are correct but some of the words are not.)

What does Uchida do well? The thing I love most about listening to this artist speak is how inspirational she is. She speaks with such passion about her medium that it really captures your attention and lets you feel her joy. Partly, she does this by the content – the words she chooses. But the other part is the way she says it. She is extremely expressive with her face, her gestures, and her intonation. She uses big changes in pitch and syllable length to add emphasis to her points, and it’s very effective. 

She also speaks clearly, has good volume and speed, looks at the interviewer, and speaks with confidence. Her posture is good, and she smiles several times during the interview. The only thing I would suggest she improve is her volume, which gets a little quiet in some places.

What professional vocabulary does she use? She begins by talking about how difficult it was to learn to play Schönberg, and how when she was at school in Vienna, Austria, she says Schönberg was “a dirty word.” Normally, a dirty word means a bad word like cursing or swearing. In this situation, she means that her instructors didn’t approve of playing music by this composer and only a peculiar, or strange, group of students that played “new” music would play Schönberg.

She goes on to say that she loves his passion for discovering something new which is fascinating for her. She says that every time she plays his music she finds something new in it. She says this is so with any great piece of music.

Next, she talks about Czech music and the great and deeply moving pieces by Dvořák such as his Ninth Symphony (From the New World) and Cello Concerto. She also talks about the genius of Janáček and how she played his music with her friend Magdalena Kožená, who is a Czech opera singer, and she said it was so beautiful your heart melts. This is a great use of metaphor to convey a feeling.

Finally, she talks about how music is limitlessly wonderful and a gift from God to mankind. The thinks there have been many musical geniuses in Western music since the 1700s. She says that to be a musician is not a profession, it’s a devotion, and you have to really love it. If you love it, you know that’s what your life is.

Speaking passionately about your work can really help artists and designers to connect with their audiences. A good language coach can help you choose the best words to inspire others, and also help you speak them in a way that shows your passion, like Mitsuko Uchida.


At Artglish, we help artists and designers to speak confidently about their work. We coach you to speak professionally using the best vocabulary and correct pronunciation. If you want to learn more, click here to join The Studio and try some free ways to improve your English, or check out our Courses page.

I’ve chosen 5 words or phrases for you to focus on today. They are in bold. If you don’t know them, look up the meaning, synonyms, antonyms, and other forms of these words. You can find links to Merriam-Webster dictionary sites at the bottom of this page.

To see the original video, posted by Česká filharmonie on March 28, 2018, click the link below:
https://youtu.be/qVba20Vy0zE

To see Mitsuko Uchida playing Schönberg’s Piano Concerto, click the link below:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-fyWc6Mpd8

Published by

Jessica

I help artists and designers with their English so they can focus on being creative and changing the world.

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