March 2010

Advice from Masterclass by Vadim Repin

March 14, 2010 20:17

I had the luck to watch, in February, as an audience member, a masterclass by Vadim Repin at Montreal conservatory. It was very interesting to see how this very talented violinist teach. Making everything clear and mimicks when words aren't ennough to explain well. In fact, I have saw two 3 hours masterclasses with Repin over the years.  I just wanted to share a few tricks he told and mention that it's all things regularly discussed here on!  A very good new according to me.  

- Even advanced students still have slight posture problems with lifting the left shoulder, tension, not using all the bow parts and such. So Repin was very clear about the fact that one had to lift the violin from the left shoulder and hold the scrool slightly up since it's the only way to gain a flexible left hand able to do variet and coulours in vibrato. (and shift smoothly) The violin is mainly hold by the left hand; it should be seen as an extension of the left hand.

- One has to FIGHT this natural tendency the body has to tense the left hand when you play forte and energically with the bow...

- exagerate creshendos when needed. Do not just play short notes as if you don't care.

- never do a same melody that repeats twice the same

- In Brahms, don't play for your grand-mother as he said so well...  Do it magistral, grandiose. Hungarian music is like dance so really put this energy on the notes that need it. It's important to end well the short notes. In Brahms, also don't slow tempo when not written

- super important for sound (as students sometimes played well but with not ennough sound  according to Repin...) Good contact with the strings... use this index on your bow hand...

- When playing at the bottom (heel) part of the bow, always make that hand/wrist movement energically. At the tip, you do it but with less amplitude.

- Scales are the starting point... It's pointless to try to master a concerto if you don't practice the basics in scales. One should do at least 2 hours a day of scales or moore if needed... you never do ennough... Just a little story, a student came up very out of control and Repin kindly and patiently made him do scales unstead of playing his concerto... Insisting on the impotance of basics... A good lesson to all violin students I think!

- Follow your little finger. He's the "boss" in octaves and decimas (tenths) and indicates the place you should be.  Never stretch you hand from the weak pinky side. Unstead, stretch more from the stronger index side...

- In triplets, the second not is the most important. (also for counting issues)

And the main message, play with confidence and conviction in your message (be clear in what you want to say to convince people you're doing the right thing...) He often said, "it will be ok just if you convinced me it is (when you play)..." 


So, it's pretty similar to things regularly discussed here, no? Really, for those who think there is a "secret" with these super violinists, I can really say there aren't from what I saw. Every good teacher in a serious conservatory or established school has similar ideas to masters as Vadim Repin. We are not in a world where information is confined to specific countries as it might have been before (???).  Of course, I'm not talking about born physical talent, ear, context, opportunities, frequencies and leghts of lessons.  But, stricktly talking about pedagogy and violin learning methods, it's really not that different!!!

So, in my humble opinion, everyone who wants master tricks, find a good teacher and read ; )


Also, I have found (sorry if you already know this article) a very interesting article about David Oistrakh by Rimma Sushanskaya, a very talented violinist who was his last pupil. I think the article is quite recent since I had never seen it before.;col1


Once again, it shows the talent of this great artist to perform, teach (on regular basis, not just masterclasses), conduct and play viola at the same time!

Have a nice day,



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