In conjunction with his work as a performer and a composer, Michel Deneuve has always given part of his time to music teaching : first with Bernard Baschet and his “instrumentarium”, he then set to the task of teaching the playing techniques of the Cristal and how to reach fine musical expressiveness.
Music teaching and the Baschet “Instrumentarium”
In collaboration with Bernard Baschet, Michel Deneuve worked on perfecting a new system for teaching music, particularly well-adapted to children thanks to a series of small and play-oriented instruments with simple “keyboards” and rich and varied tones which form what is called the “instrumentarium” : percussion instruments, strings (struck or plucked), small Cristals.
The point of departure precedes the notions of solfege and playing techniques. To achieve this, children learn to play with sounds in the same carefree manner as they learn to play ball or use building blocks, giving spontaneous lee-way to their creativeness. In a game-like context, musical instructions are progressively suggested : silence, listening, timbre, intensity, low and high-pitched tones, resonance, rhythm, etc. Just as a child learns to give form to his or her building blocks, he or she learns to give form to the sounds he or she hears.
“After several years of experimentation, then through worshops in French schools, we began training music teachers in order to reach the greatest number of students and prepare the future.”
In 1984, Bernard Baschet created the association “Sound Structures and Teaching” to establish this new system for teaching music : since then, more than 500 European educational centres have participated in this work. Several of them have acquired the whole “instrumentarium” and gain more and more experience every year.
For more than ten years, to his great surprise, Michel Deneuve discovered he was the only person to devote himself to the Cristal. As a natural consequence, he decided to turn to teaching, wanting to transmit his knowledge of this instrument to give it a future. “Just as with any other instrument, a minimum of ten years (spending your whole time on it) is required to acquire a good technique. However, although essential, it is not enough by itself to master the art of music. The first thing when teaching how to play a new instrument is to find an appropriate and efficient language to pass on, as well as possible, the music written for the instrument and its playing technique.
“Being the first person to teach the Cristal, for me, this is also a process of transmitting a technique which, to this point, has only been corroborated by my own experience. My thinking about a teaching method for this instrument started during the 1990’s, when other cristalists emerged, whether or not they were my own students. I remain very prudent about what I feel to be considerable responsibility concerning the outstanding capabilities of the Baschet Cristal.”
The growing interest in the Cristal led Michel Deneuve to open a school, “L’Ecole du Cristal”, in 1998 at the Baschet Brothers’ workshop in Paris to transmit his experience acquired in more than 30 years of exploration and playing the Cristal.
In 2002, the music conservatory in Brive-la Gaillarde inaugurated a Cristal school. Michel Deneuve teaches there once a month to eighteen regular students. Each week, his course is continued by his assistant Antoine Mas who is also his pupil.
To be released: – full method for the Cristal – an instrumentarium treatise on the Cristal for use by composers