Michael SheltonMichael Shelton inhabits the world of music. It is an emotional experience for him and doubtlessly for his listeners too. On his recent visit to Coimbatore to examine candidates for the Trinity Guildhall music examinations, he spoke to Anasuya Menon on music and everything related to it.
"A musician should have a wide range of emotions. Mechanical precision of notes will not produce good music." According to him, if it is devoid of emotion, music will not sound appealing to the listener.
Having played with the BBC Northern Symphony Orchestra, the Halle Orchestra, the English Philharmonic Orchestra and the Manchester Camerata, he decided to become an examiner. "I learnt and played music a lot. By being an examiner, I thought I could make a better judgement too," he says.
Though his area of expertise is the clarinet, he has extensive playing experience in jazz. He has been a member of the National Executive Committee of the Clarinet and the Saxophone Society of Great Britain and a committee member of the Incorporated Society of Musicians.
Michael doesn't believe in the conventional method of examination. He strikes up a conversation with the candidate, putting him or her perfectly at ease, and extracts the best performance from the candidate. "If I feel that the candidate is not in the best of spirits, I usually do not start the test."
A musician should also be an actor. The audience should understand what the artist wants to convey, he says.
Anger, love, sadness, joy - each kind of music triggers emotions in listeners, he observes. It also reflects the mood of the artiste.
An examiner for the Guildhall School of Music Examination, he travels around the world, listens to a lot of country music and to thousands of candidates perform.
Travelling to various countries is a learning experience for him. After the examinations, he interacts with the students and their parents, getting their feed back and egging them on to perform better.
He also gives them tips to fine-tune their talent and that makes it a rewarding experience for him.
And language is no barrier for Michael. "Music is an international language. My clarinet does the talking for me."
More and more young people are taking to learning music world wide, but there is no age bar for learning it. Even at the age of 70, one can be a student of music, he says. "It unites people," he explains.
Towards the end of the interview, he says, "Ah, that's Gabriel Faurae's `Gynopide,' on hearing a mobile phone ringtone.
"I got that," he adds with a smile.