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The Mind Over Finger Podcast

Apr 26, 2019

In this episode, we’re ending Season 1 of The Mind Over Finger Podcast with a truly spectacular artist!  I speak with violin sensation Kerson Leong about his terrific YouTube series The Art of the Etude, his wise and meaningful practicing methods, and how he approaches violin mastery, and musical expression.

Kerson has an amazingly authentic and profound approach to music making and I KNOW you will love this episode!


In the show, Kerson elaborates on:

  • His journey from starting at the age of four and a half to winning the Menuhin Competition at the age of 13
  • How winning Menuhin was the start of a very long process that lead to him exploring and finding his independence in terms of how to think about music, devise his own solutions to technical problems, and develop his instinct
  • The importance of knowing about the tradition and thinking for ourselves
  • His incredible YouTube series “The Art of the Etude”
  • How etudes allow us to develop our technique and musicality, and teach us so much about how to learn and how to practice
  • How etudes were a real grounding force in his development
  • How we can use etudes to develop musicality
  • How etudes are our “playground” to work on all aspect of performing – technical and musical alike
  • His practicing processes
    • Knowing exactly what his goal is when he enters the practice room
    • Having a clear idea in his head of what he wants to execute on the instrument
    • Keeping the transitions between notes executed as if they were at full speed when practicing slowly
    • Never neglect the right hand when working on difficult left-hand passages
  • How important it is for him to focus on how relaxed and efficient his body is at all times when he practices – analyzing motions and figuring out what works best
  • How letting go of the shoulder rest lead him to a depth of analysis in his physical approach to playing the violin
  • His approach to mental practice


More about Kerson:


YouTube channels:

Facebook page:


Violin Channel Young Artist page:

Violin Channel Facebook artist page:



Kerson Leong first took the music world by storm in 2010 by winning the coveted Junior First Prize at the prestigious Menuhin Competition. Ever since, the young Canadian violinist has astonished and won over both fellow musicians and audiences alike the world over with his rare and innovative mastery of his instrument, his natural ability to convey the subtlest of emotions, and the colossal scope of his live performances. Having been called “Canada’s next great violinist” (Ludwig van Toronto), he has distinguished himself with his unique approach as one of the most brilliant musicians of his generation.

In the 2018/2019 season, Kerson is Artist-in-Residence with the Orchestre Métropolitain de Montreal under Yannick Nezet-Seguin. Other highlights to look forward to this season include his debuts with the Sinfonieorchester Wuppertal, Liège Royal Philharmonic, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, and London Symphonia.

Kerson has played in some of the most prestigious concert venues around the world from Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium and the Auditorium du Louvre to Wigmore Hall and the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing. He is in regular demand as a soloist, having performed with such ensembles as the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Oslo Philharmonic, the Vienna Chamber Orchestra, the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestre National de Lorraine, the Kansai Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orchestra Gulbenkian, the Stockton Symphony Orchestra, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestre Metropolitain de Montreal, the Quebec Symphony Orchestra, and the National Arts Centre Orchestra of Canada, as well as numerous other orchestras in his home country.

Kerson is also an avid and passionate chamber musician. Since his debut at the Gstaad Menuhin Festival in Switzerland in 2011, he has been featured at many renowned international festivals and concert series, including the Verbier Festival, Rheingau Musik Festival, Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Fraenkische Musiktage, Flâneries musicales de Reims, Bergen International Festival, Trasimeno Music Festival, Schiermonnikoog Chamber Music Festival, Toronto Summer Music Festival, Ottawa International Chamberfest, Music and Beyond, Montreal Symphony Orchestra’s Virée classique, and Domaine Forget International Music Festival among others.

Kerson released Bis, his first album for Analekta showcasing a collection of encore pieces, to critical acclaim.  He recorded John Rutter’s Visions with the composer himself and the Aurora Chamber Orchestra for Collegium Records, after giving its world premiere in London, UK.  He has also been invited by Canadian composer Francois Dompierre to record his piece, Les Diableries. Kerson can also be heard on CBC Television, CBC/Radio Canada, the BBC Radio 3, Radio France, Radio Television Suisse, American Public Media’s SymphonyCast, NRK, RAI, Deutschlandradio Kultur, and Czech Radio. He has been a recipient of many awards such as the Sylva Gelber Music Foundation Award (2015-2017) and the Young Soloist Prize 2015 by the Radios Francophone Publiques, as well as having received a Mentorship Award from the Lin Yao Ji Music Foundation of China for inspiring younger generations. He was named Revelation Radio-Canada 2014-2015 for classical music.

Since 2015, Kerson has been an Artist-in-Residence at the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel in Belgium, mentored by Augustin Dumay. Teaching is becoming a growing passion for Kerson, having given masterclasses and taught at various festivals and universities including the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, the University of Ottawa, and Memorial University in St. John’s, Newfoundland. He has always been keen on making connections between music and other fields. Ever since his dad started introducing him to physics concepts about string resonance, they have strongly influenced his playing and philosophy on sound production. Together with his dad, he has given lectures about this subject in places such as the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, the Barratt-Due Music Institute in Oslo, and various universities in California.

Kerson performs on a 1741 Guarneri del Gesu courtesy of Canimex Inc, Drummondville (Quebec), Canada



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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!