NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Navah Perlman's world-famous violinist father, Itzhak, passed his passion for music to her.
And now that she has emerged as a world-renowned pianist in her own right, she is hoping she can pass that spark to others.8
Perlman will be visiting Paul Robeson Community School for the Arts on Monday, the day after she and cellist Matt Haimovitz perform at the State Theater.
The chance to perform for a group of fourth- and fifth-graders in the school's band and orchestra program gives her a chance to inspire a new generation of musicians.
"I think about it sometimes," said Perlman. "I would like to think there are kids who maybe haven't heard certain things or haven't thought about in a certain way. It's nice to think that sort of exposure could light a fire under someone. It takes very little experience to set someone thinking in a different way."
Perhaps they will be inspired by her story, too.
Early in her career, Perlman was diagnosed with a rare form of rheumatoid arthritis. She was forced to stop playing piano and focused on her academic studies at Brown University.
Her father overcame childhood polio to conquer the music world, so it shouldn't be a surprise that Navah began to practice the piano again by the time she graduated.
She played 10 minutes a day at first and slowly she began to recapture her brilliance on the piano.
Years later, she has gone on to perform as a soloist and with major orchestras all around the world.
Perlman said that when she gets up in front of kids, the conversation does turn to her battle with arthritis. Usually, however, she tries to focus on the music. In particular, she is hoping to impart some "listing tools," as she calls them.
Perlman said that children sometimes believe music, classical in particular, is someone how unapproachable or just intimidating. To provide otherwise, she does a little experiment with them. She will play a piece of music and ask the class if it sounded like a motorcycle chase. No hands will go up. Then she will ask if it sounds like a lullaby. All the hands go up.
"I let them know, you are listening perfectly well," she said. "You understand what the ear hears when it hears something fast and when it hears something slow and that music isn’t necessarily about anything but it evokes images, it evokes emotions and those emotions are appropriate to what you’re listening to and you can identify them."