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The Mind Over Finger Podcast

Mar 22, 2019

I’m really excited about today’s episode and I think it’s a particularly inspiring one! As a performer and a teacher, I constantly feel the presence and the influence of the musicians that have helped shape me as an artist – with their knowledge, wisdom, skills, and with their examples! There are too many to interview them all, but there are three that I consider as the main pedagogical influences in my life, and you will get to meet them in the coming weeks!

I begin today with Canadian violinist, teacher, and conductor, Jean-François Rivest who was my teacher from the age of 9, when I began Conservatory, all the way to the age of 20, when I graduated from the University of Montreal!

Jean-François and I have an amazing conversation about learning to listen to ourselves, paying attention, nurturing our imagination, live passionately, and broadening our horizons as humans and musicians!

We elaborate on:

  • His artistic journey, from gifted violinist to passionate teacher, conductor, and artistic administrator
  • Why we need to grow and enrich parts of ourselves who are not specifically related to music in order to become a better musician
  • Why we must pursue, at least, some of our dreams and how that requires action and difficult decisions
  • How he taught me to PAY ATTENTION and nurture curiosity in my life
  • The extreme importance of imagination
  • Ways we can tune our radar to learn to listen and hear better
    • Opening our “musical eyes” to how the music is constructed – theory, harmony, etc.
    • Develop our inner ear through “ear training”
  • How we can develop more awareness with the help of mentors, guides, and teachers who will teach us where to “look,” and introduce us to the tools and skills we should acquire
  • How he thinks that music is an exchange of imagination between the composer, artist, and listener and, therefore, why we must develop our imagination in order to fully grow as a musician
  • How growth is a lifelong pursuit and becoming a “better” artist involves growing as a person
  • Why practice is “management”


More about Jean-François


‘Rivest is a magician: with a touch of his magic wand he always transforms any concert into an extraordinary and unique event’ (Le Soleil, Québec, 2010)

Québec conductor Jean-François Rivest is renowned for his energy, his extremely precise technique, his style, which is passionate, moving and deeply involved, and his great communication skills. His discography serves as proof to the ease with which he masters a large variety of musical genres ranging from the baroque era up to today.

He has been Artistic Director of the Orchestre Symphonique de Laval, (10 years) and of Ottawa's Thirteen Strings Ensemble, (5 years), as well as Conductor in Residence of the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, (OSM) from 2006 to 2009, where his tenure has been particularly significant.

Jean-François Rivest firmly believes that the next generation of musicians must rely on performers that are also active as pedagogues. He has worked for several institutions and has been teaching orchestral conducting as well as a variety of advanced performance classes at Université de Montréal since 1993. He is the founder, Artistic Director and principal conductor of the Orchestre de l'Université de Montréal (OUM).

From 2009 to 2015, he has been Artistic Director of the Orford Arts Centre, (now Orford Music), nearby Montréal where he presided over the destiny of Orford’s prestigious International Academy and Festival. His period at the head of the Arts Center is unanimously seen as a time of tremendous artistic renewal and growth. In the 2012 Opus Prizes Awards ceremony, he was given the Opus Prize for the Artistic Director of the year (2011).

Mr. Rivest, who trained at the Conservatoire de Montréal and at the Juilliard School in New York, quickly established himself as one of the foremost Quebec violinists of his generation. His main teachers were Sonia Jelinkova, Ivan Galamian and Dorothy DeLay.

Being the father of four children, family is at the center of his life. He is passionate about nature and outdoor activities, such as scuba diving, kayak, climbing, trekking and photography. He has even participated in several expeditions of a challenging level. Jean-François Rivest believes that the many facets of nature are a vital source of artistic inspiration!



Le chef d'orchestre québécois Jean-François Rivest est réputé pour son énergie, sa technique d’une extrême précision et son style passionné, émouvant et profondément engagé. Il maîtrise naturellement une très grande variété de langages musicaux (du baroque au répertoire d’aujourd’hui). Invité régulier de nombreux grands orchestres, au Canada comme à l’étranger, il a été chef en résidence à l’Orchestre symphonique de Montréal (OSM), de 2006 à 2009, où son passage a été particulièrement significatif, ainsi que directeur artistique de l’Orchestre symphonique de Laval, (10 ans), et du Thirteen Strings Ensemble d’Ottawa, (5 ans).

Jean-François Rivest croit fermement que la carrière d’interprète doit se doubler d’une action pédagogique afin de former les prochaines générations de musiciens. Il a œuvré au sein de plusieurs institutions et, tout particulièrement depuis 1993, à la Faculté de musique de l’Université de Montréal où il enseigne la direction d’orchestre et divers cours d’interprétation avancés. Il est le fondateur, directeur artistique et chef principal de l'Orchestre de l'Université de Montréal (OUM).

À titre de directeur artistique du Centre d’arts Orford, (maintenant Orford Musique), de 2009 à 2105, il a présidé à la destinée de son Académie prestigieuse et de son Festival international. Ses années à la tête du Centre d’arts ont été un franc succès et considérées par tous comme des années de grand renouveau artistique. Il s’est d’ailleurs vu décerner le Prix Opus du Directeur artistique de l’année 2011, lors du gala 2012 du Conseil québécois de la musique. Formé au Conservatoire de Montréal et à la Juilliard School de New York, il a étudié principalement avec Sonia Jelinkova, Ivan Galamian et Dorothy DeLay, et s'est imposé rapidement comme l'un des meilleurs violonistes québécois de sa génération.

Il est père de quatre enfants et la famille est au cœur de sa vie. Il est passionné de plein air et de nature (plongée sous-marine, kayak de mer, escalade, trekking, photographie) et a de nombreuses expéditions importantes à son actif. Jean-François Rivest croit que la nature, dans toutes ses manifestations, constitue une inspiration vitale dans la profession artistique !



Most sincere thank you to composer Jim Stephenson who graciously provided the show’s musical theme! Concerto #1 for Trumpet and Chamber Orchestra – Movement 2: Allegro con Brio, performed by Jeffrey Work, trumpet, and the Lake Forest Symphony, conducted by Jim Stephenson.

Also a HUGE thank you to my fantastic producer, Bella Kelly!




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