Zakhar Bron

February 15, 2006 at 07:31 PM · Hi! I was wondering if anybody here has ever studied with Zakhar Bron and whether they could provide some input as to his teaching style. Is he a generally nice person?

Thanks

Replies (42)

February 15, 2006 at 08:27 PM · He is a very nice man, and with a good sense of humour. But he rightly has high demands on his students.

He does emphasize a lot on colour and tone.

Is there anything in particular you want to know? If you ar interested in him as a teacher I can not recommend him too much! He is a wonderful teacher, perhaps the greatest alive today.

February 15, 2006 at 08:52 PM · Greetings,

I agree. You can get him on DVD from Shar now.

Cheers,

Buri

February 15, 2006 at 11:05 PM · I second all of the above, and I must add that he only teaches in Russian or German. Definitely something to take into account!

He also is very intensive when working on vibrato and bow division and cleanliness and evenness of notes in runs....amongst many other things, of course.

He's very tough when teaching, but a very nice person when he's away from the violin.

February 16, 2006 at 02:24 AM · Bron is probably one of the greatest peadgogic geniuses alive right now.

February 16, 2006 at 09:48 PM · Oh that is a problem if he only teaches in russian and german of which I speak neither....I was looking at Schlern's website and they list him on the faculty. Does anybody have more information on his position at schlern? Is he only there for a masterclass or is he really on the faculty?

February 16, 2006 at 10:45 PM · Greetings,

two things spring to mind.

1)if you want to learn more about him through DVDs they have the English translation.

2) My impression from seeing him in masterclass and on the DVds is that languag is not a barrier.

He is just such a fantastic communicator through the violin and gesture.

Its a funny business. I mean I speak fluent Japanese but students come out of my lessons and other people say to them `how did you understand?` to which they respond `Oh, his gestures are so clear.` Of course, this cultural context is rather odd in that the belief Japanese cannot be learnt by a foreigner is so entrenched that a Japanese person often simply cannot hear when a person is speaking their language at near native speaker level, but it does make the point that playing and gesture can say much of what needs to be said.

Best of luck,

Buri

February 17, 2006 at 01:23 AM · I agree with Stephen. A lot of violin teaching happens through showing on the instrument and immitation from the student. However, if you're not very advanced, then some concepts may be hard to grasp without an explanation. It also depends on what kind of a person you are, in terms of how you learn. Some people can just immitate a teacher and then understand the concept, while others still need a verbal explanation.

February 17, 2006 at 01:32 AM · Greetings,

to be honest this has not really been my experience. I have beginning sdtudents of age 5 and 6 for examople who I teach using gesture and a l;ittle English and virtually no Japanese because the parents like it. Kids dont ahve the same resistance to communication in a new language so the lessons take on the same kind of feel that Ashers Total Physical Response work describes.

But heck, I don`t think Mr Bron is going to be teaching that many complete beginners outside his native land. I think I heard he steps in at about Vivaldo concerto level.

Cheers,

Buri

February 17, 2006 at 03:44 AM · Stephen, I agree with you, but at the same time, I was talking more about people of the Conservatory age and level, where, especially if the person has bad physical habits or a musical misconception, some explanation may be required.

February 17, 2006 at 04:43 AM · Is Japanese hard to learn? How and when did you?

February 17, 2006 at 05:54 AM · Greetings,

bit off topic. I don`t think it is really that hard at a basic level. One reason it is an easier `exotic` language (trying to avoid racist nomenclature and probably failing) is that it cna actually be spoken on a monotone and be udnerstood. Not pretty though. Language such as Vietnamese are substantially harder for westerners because so much depends on minute (small) pitch inflections. Indeed, I had a Brit friend who joined the Hong Kong police before reunification with China who fibnally figured out why his colleagues always made him the person going first into a room full of gun toting gangsters. His attempts at shouting `Freeze, drop your weapons etc` came out in his mangled Cantones as things like `My grandma has a banana in her knickers today etc.` The result was such hysteria on th4e part of the gangsters that they usually gave up from sheer laughter.

The problem begins when writing level and this is partly to do with the traditional method of taeching young children (brute repetition) which just doe s not work with adults. Happily there are now efefctive memory systems that dramtically simplify the process. (One by James Heisig, for example).

I learnt because I have lived in Japan for more than one third of my life and I didn`t want to starve.

Cheers,

Buri

February 17, 2006 at 12:15 PM · Greetings,

ViolinT:

>I was talking more about people of the Conservatory age and level, where, especially if the person has bad physical habits or a musical misconception, some explanation may be required.

Sure. Otherwise we ebd up with Joachim saying "You must play it zo." Big smile.

Cheers,

Buri

February 17, 2006 at 04:13 PM · Buri, I'm afraid I must take you up on your point that even if Maestro Bron spoke in Russian or German you'd understand him...

It is true that he is very demonstrative, both in his body language and on the violin, but I can tell you from watching him in masterclasses live, that he loves to explain things in great detail, and he uses a very high level of Russian when he speaks (some Russians have difficulty understanding what he is trying to say sometimes!!)

I can also tell you that I doubt very very much that he would accept somebody as a pupil if they could not understand very well what he is saying. I know this because I study with a Russian teacher right now, and although she speaks a fair amount of English, she worries constantly that I won't understand what she is saying. Often she will bring in another pupil to translate for me, so that she can speak without the limitations of her English. I'm sure that Maestro Bron, who speaks even less English than my teacher, would not be agreeable to a situation where the pupil really understands very very little, or nothing at all.

February 17, 2006 at 06:09 PM · Sorry to contradict you Larry, but I speak neither Russian nor German and I had no problem understanding him. Several of his students (that are with him now) don't speak those languages either.

If you grasp his way of thinking you will have no problem understanding him what so ever. But if you don't understand it then his english will not help you either :)

February 17, 2006 at 08:59 PM · Mattias, I am not saying that it is impossible to understand what he is talking about. Of course, with all his motions and demonstrations it is not so difficult to work out more or less what he is talking about. However, and I have been to many of his masterclasses, he likes to go into a LOT of detail, only verbally with no demonstrating, and there is no way to understand that.

Also if he is trying to explain to you exactly how to do something the way he wants it, if you do not understand the language it is really impossible to understand it fully.

I have it first-hand from the Russian-speaking people I was sitting with that it is very hard to even translate what he is saying because he uses very elaborate and detailed language, sparing no detail, and every single word that he says is important and has a lot of meaning. Often their translations made absolutely no sense to me at all.

Some of the players had translators to help while he was teaching, and all of them told me afterwards that they were struggling to understand what he wanted from them, and they cannot really remember anything that they learned because it was all so fast-paced and vague (he doesn't give the translators much if any time to translate, and many sentences are cut off mid-way).

So I really do not mean to argue, but I am certain (in fact I know already as second hand information) that Bron does not accept pupils who do not understand Russian or German (or who are at LEAST learning it). It is not that you won't be able to learn anything from him...of course you will, but for HIM it's a waste of time that you will not be (truly) understanding a single word that he is saying. How would you feel speaking to somebody who you know does not understand the language...

Just one more thing. Often you may THINK that you understand, due to demonstration etc, but can be completely wrong! This happens to me sometimes even with my violin teacher, who often mixes English and Russian in one sentence, and I have to ask her what the Russian words mean, otherwise I am likely to get it all wrong. Every word counts!

Again, please don't feel that I am disputing what you said, I just feel very strongly that you need to speak the language (which I don't) in order to understand him properly.

February 17, 2006 at 09:08 PM · Greetings,

I have seen Mr Bron in masterclass and on DVD many times. One of the most noticeable things abotu his teachign is the way he tempers his language and approach to the level of undertsanding taking place, be it linguistic, conceptual , tehcical or emotional.

I suppose the simplest test is for people to watch the DVDs in Russian and then check in English to see how much they missed....

Cheers,

Buri

February 17, 2006 at 09:54 PM · Sorry again Larry, my information might be old, but my information is firsthand between 97' and 00'. And I had no problem with him ;)

February 17, 2006 at 10:09 PM · I have been to Mr Bron's masterclasses and I can tell you his main language (apart from Russian) is MUSIC. The students can easily understand him even when they do not have Russian or German. They get it soon enough anyway, this is not a problem. He is one of the best teachers, if not the best, I have watched in action with students. He always finds a way of solving their problems (not just by talking, he also shows them how) and if one way does not work he finds another solution until it works, but the students have to be very good already to start with ! He has no time for slow learners !

February 17, 2006 at 10:30 PM · Alex, regarding Schlern Festival, I believe he is listed as a past guest faculty. I don't know if he will be there this summer. My son's teacher teaches there every summer and she said he had an interpreter when he was teaching there. I am not sure if he was only teaching master classes or not. You might want to contact them to see if he will be there this summer.

May 17, 2006 at 04:58 PM · Hi!

I would like to no if anyone know about any mastercourse with Zakhar Bron This summer and if anyone can send me some info about it.

I'm waiting for any answer. Thanx.

Greetings,

Smolek

May 17, 2006 at 05:52 PM · I have been told he will teach you for free for a year to get you ready for a major violin competition. If you win he gets half your prize. He's doing very well so I guess he knows what he's doing. His book on Etudes is a classic.

May 17, 2006 at 06:11 PM · He has funny hair.

A girl I met last summer says that he is scarry.

May 17, 2006 at 10:53 PM · Greetings,

can you give me her number. I have no hair and I am definitely not scary,

Cheers,

Buri

May 18, 2006 at 12:09 AM · I've got hair AND I'm scary.

Zakhar Bron is truly the greatest teacher of his time for what is desired in today's violinists. He is today what Ivan Galamian was in the 2nd part of the 20th century.

No offense him nor to the great players that studied with him, but that's not the style I'd want to play myself.

That's not because his Soviet style doesn't work, it doesn't work for ME because of my body. If I played like that, I'd be suffering from tendinitis and would have to retire from the concert stage. Given that I play as many as 8 shows a week, I couldn't afford the physical suffering. My body doesn't have the innate tensile strength of a Repin or Vengerov, which automatically precludes me from doing the Bron and even Galamian method.

I also have a different take on the music than Bron and his students do. I tip my hat in great respect and awe of those guys, but that's not how I hear the music when I play that stuff myself. I tend to hear things slower and softer than Bron's students (or modern violinists in general) do.

May 18, 2006 at 02:51 AM · Kevin,

Studying with a particular teacher doesn't mean that you'll end up sounding like them...

Ever heard Ilya Gringolts play?

May 18, 2006 at 03:20 AM · I have now.

He's a great player who plays about 3 times as fast and as loud as I do!

I'm not as tall as he is, nor are my fingers as long. I don't have the tensile strength he has, so I can't sustain speeds as he can. My body is totally different, which is hardly surprising given that I'm NOT a tall white male or even your typical Asian violinist physically. I tried to play that style when I was younger and just couldn't due to my physical limitations. Bron or many other great teachers of the day would probably not accept me as a student even if I desired it.

If anything, I'm the anti-Ilya.

May 18, 2006 at 04:01 AM · Kevin, almost anything is possible. I've seen a little 9 year old Korean girl play Paganini full of tenths and all sorts of violin trickery at typical New York volumes... in this case, size doesn't matter. Maybe you haven't yet found the right way.

May 18, 2006 at 04:59 AM · No, size and physique are all-important.

A 9-year old girl can have superb tensile strength and a 32 year old man can have lousy tensile strength, depending on ethnicity and genetics. No amount of training will change that, and that's why "talent" is "inborn".

The shape of one's hands and the length of the fingers in proportion to the palm dictate the repertoire what people can play. Plenty of 9 year old little girls (particularly Korean ones, most of whom grow up to be taller than me) have longer fingers than I do. Chances are that I and a lot of people cannot do the Perlman and hit all four Fs on all four strings all at once merely by stretching his fingers. Only one with hands as big as his can pull that off, and practice or even surgery can't make that happen for a smaller hand. Similarly, you've heard William Roth rave about Michael Rabin's "pinky that would turn violinists green with envy". I know of no way, not even surgical, to elongate one's pinky.

I have such a flexible body that I can play the double unison trill in Paganini Caprice #3 in tune. I also can bend my pinky completely backwards and touch either of my thumbs to my forearm. Most people I know can't do that.

That same physical flexibility also limits me in many things I do, not just the violin. Sports, work, relationships, health, even family ties. Tensile strength is what separates great athletes from good ones, and it's no different for the most physical of instruments, the violin. My experience is that tensile strength is one of the determining factors of why certain guys like Gringolts can make it in a certain venue and other people with his same amount of training in the same type of method can't. Mind you, I had a kung fu martial arts studio for 3 years and saw people all the way from handicapped folks to professional UFC cagefighters to a 6'5" guy who had played in the NFL with the Green Bay Packers. All of the professional athletes had innately great tensile strength that allowed them to practice longer and harder and do things that ordinary people just couldn't do.

I've been playing the violin for over 20 years and trained at Juilliard just as Ilya did, so it's not from lack of trying or exposure. Then again, I'm a completely different type of violinist who's successful in a totally different venue - that of pop violin. There my flexibility is a major strength, particularly when I pirouette and spin into a split at the end of Monti's Csardas. The audiences I play for like that kind of stuff, at least that's what they tell me.

I attended Western medical school for 3 years, so I learned quite a bit about the human physiology and what it is and isn't capable of. In fact, it was my physical condition that kept me from being able to finish my education (extreme physical fatigue factor). I learned why my life had turned out the way it did and was amazed at how much genetics influenced my decisions without me realizing it.

Nobody can combat Mother Nature after a certain point.

May 18, 2006 at 05:51 AM · Wait, you can do that after Czardas?

August 8, 2007 at 03:04 AM · I have observed a few of my friend's lessons with Zakar Bron and these are my observations:

1) He is a world-class teacher who really knows what he is doing. He is extremely organized and is very results oriented.

2) If you want to improve your left hand technique, I'd say this is the man to go to.

3) A concern that I had with Bron was his right hand teaching methods. He tries to develop a "weight lifting" approach to bow technique and as a result I'm concerned with the longevity of a particular student. Excessive tension and force may bring out the character in a certain and appropriate music, but with that can result in temporary or permanent injury.

4) If you want to win gold medals at international competitions, this coach can prepare you really well and has the political power to help you win (provided that you do REALLY well on that day).

5) For his teaching style, he is very agressive, can be really demanding and condescending. Away from the studio, he's the nicest guy. At the lesson, he can be very difficult.

6) Also at the time (2 yrs ago), my friend was paying like $1000/lesson for a 2 hour lesson.

Overall, he's defintely a great teacher. Although he and I would not be a good match.

August 8, 2007 at 03:24 AM · "has the political power to help you win"

What's the basis of the political power? I'm always interested in how people force others to do their bidding.

August 8, 2007 at 03:55 AM · Not to get into this again on violinist.com but remember the tchaikovsky competition this year and mayuko kamio winning (the student of Bron)?

I hope you get the idea...

August 8, 2007 at 09:13 AM · Well sure, I was there for that. What I'm asking about is the mechanism. Do you get a visit from a Soprano, either the good kind or the bad kind, depending? Or does he hypnotize them? "I am the master and you will obey me!"

August 8, 2007 at 12:45 PM · Well, she didn't win CMIM 2006, she got 5'th, and Bron was in that Jury too.

Jinjoo Cho won, a student of Paul Kantor, also in the jury.

Is Kantor a more powerful cheater than Bron?

That is just rubbish. Innocent until proven guilty.

August 8, 2007 at 01:47 PM · Bron seems to have a bit more allies in Europe. And after all, the competition was held in Russia!

This is a very delicate topic and I need to clarify that I am NOT accusing anyone of cheating and I respect both Bron, Kantor and all top teachers.

I personally didn't have a problem with Mayuko winning tchaikovsky because as a former artist manager and presenter, she was always on my radar for a long time (even back when she first won the Young Concert Artist Award in her early teens). She had qualities that music business people really looked for and I knew it would only be a matter of time until she made it in the business. I know everything is subjective, so this is all very difficult to explain. Also, the win at the tchaikovsky for mayuko might have not been totally because of Bron -- remember the sponsorships from the japanese corporations, etc etc?

In addition, I think overall Bron having a "reputation" for being a top coach may or may not bias judges in his favor. Although one would think that the performance on the actual competition should be the deciding factor, things happen. Judges are human and human beings make errors too. Also sometimes publicity surrounding a competitor can influence the jury.

Also, perhaps the majority of the jury preferred Jinjoo's playing in the other competition. Not everyone can be on their A-game all the time and since I didn't follow the other competition where mayuko got 5th, I cannot comment.

Sometimes different regions of the world seem to prefer a certain type of playing or sound than other areas. I've seen the top echelon artists where although they're respect worldwide, might not have the same popularity in "country x" vs "country y". This doesn't mean they're better or worse players. Just different preferences. Popularity among mass audiences doesn't always equate with respect of the musician colleagues.

So there is not 1 "formula" for all of this.

Having been in the world of the music business on the management side, I've seen it all. I'd rather reserve this discussion for another time in the future because someday I will write a book on "Surviving the Darkside of the Music Business". Read Steven Staryk's book and there is a chapter about this and hopefully you'll understand what I mean.

September 2, 2008 at 05:37 PM · on what brivati said about bron coming in at the vivaldi concerto levels that means that u have to be good but not advanced really. vivaldi concertos r not really concsidered difficult pieces. in this case it means that bron would begin to teach u at a level that shows that the student has potential to learn the hard pieces and great concertos in the future.

September 2, 2008 at 07:56 PM · A great big welcome back to two of the most knowledgeable and interesting members of this forum -- Sung-Duk Song and Kevin Huang.

Great to see you guys here again!

September 2, 2008 at 09:01 PM · Beep. Restart. Runner jumped the gun.

September 2, 2008 at 09:33 PM · Roy,

I don't think they're here anymore or at least not registered. If anyone does though get a chance please try to attend Prof. Bron's classes. Not only for his excellent teaching but to also see the big talents he is able to attract.He has come to the prefecture here where I live for the last couple of years and always picks 36 violinists to work with over a two week period.You'll get to hear Sibelius and Tchaikovsky played on half-size violins which was a first for me. Even one first grader played the Brahms Concerto note perfect.I asked her after the class what made you decide on the Brahms and she told me the story how she wrote a letter to Santa Claus and he put it under the Christmas tree for her and just started to practice it. But it is scary when you see these talented kids and wonder where they're headed. Prof Bron also ends with his recital. This year he played the Spohr duets with his new protege Erzhan Kulibaev

September 3, 2008 at 10:25 PM · Bron also teaches in Madrid, he has been doing it for many years in the prestigious Reina Sofia school, where they have auditions almost every year for new students, and he also teaches in a summer course in Santander, a nice city in the north of Spain. And not all his students speak so well of him, although I guess that is a common thing...

September 3, 2008 at 11:11 PM · I see that he is coming to Sydney for a Summer school from January 10th - 24th 2009. Must be his first trip over here.

September 3, 2008 at 11:57 PM · Watching and listening to these kids play was similar to watching the Chinese gymnists perform at the summer olympics in Beijing. Of course there is the question of age but they're so small. I wanted to run up to them after they performed and ask them may I take a violin lesson from you and how much do you charge? Even though they're 40 years younger than me and half my size.

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