The San Francisco Institute of Music
The San Francisco Institute of Music has a mission--to ensure that anyone can learn to play an instrument excellently and to demonstrate the powerful fact that:
Talent can be explained.
From the first moment of learning to play a musical instrument a student's brain forms neural connections and pathways, commonly referred to as "muscle memory." Unless these connections are correct a student will be blocked from reaching their full potential. Muscle memory is either a powerful ally or a nearly impossible impediment. All advanced, virtuoso technique is derived from fundamental principles. Therefore, the development of great technique and virtuoso ability is dependent upon the perfection of fundamentals.
The SFIM Method challenges the pervasive notion that talent cannot be explained. We have researched and studied the methods and techniques of great players for many years. We explain and demonstrate the methods behind the "talent" of the greatest players to every student, incorporating these techniques into their playing from the beginning of their lessons.
When talent can be explained, students cannot be demoralized by a teacher's unexplained demands. Teachers often have vague notions of what is not correct, and even vaguer notions of what is fundamentally correct, a pervasive pedagogical occurrence that leads to mystification, which is chronic confusion on the part of the student. However, when talent (the skill of great masters) can be explained and demonstrated, a student's natural ability is protected and nurtured.
We employ a bel canto approach to learning an instrument. Bel canto means "beautiful singing"--a smooth connection between notes, which ultimately leads to a beautiful sound and a facile, unforced technique. The greatest singers, for example, Renata Tebaldi, Enrico Caruso, among others, used this method. The greatest instrumentalists of the past also utilized this approach--Jascha Heifetz, Fritz Kreisler, Nathan Milstein, Vladimir Horowitz, Sergei Rachmaninoff, even (which may surprise some people) Glenn Gould, all played in this style.
This approach is not only more satisfying musically, but is also physically and athletically correct, which allowed these performers to play without physical or mental antagonism, leading them to reach levels of expression and brilliance unequaled in our present day because this approach had been lost. We teach our students this esoteric knowledge, which we have named the SFIM Method.