For as long as I’ve been a violinist, I’ve been inspired and motivated by watching other people play. It was the case when I saw Joshua Bell perform when I was five years old, and it was the case when I, as an undergraduate, watched older students in my studio give recitals and perform with the school orchestra. These experiences help me generate new ideas and become a better violinist.
I am an Artist Diploma student at CU Boulder, and one of my degree requirements is a recording project of orchestra excerpts. I decided to turn this content into a Youtube series.
Here is the intro video:
In the early stages of this project, I was struck by two things:
After I realized this, I reflected on what videos I post online. I, like most other graduate student musicians, have dozens of unlisted videos on Youtube. These are mostly for auditions, not to be seen by the general public. There is almost a taboo against sharing very much of our playing online. It seems gauche, somehow. Least of all orchestra excerpts, unless we are playing them in a masterclass.
I was struck by what a disservice we were doing to ourselves and each other. I love what I do, but I’ve always resented a certain culture of secrecy in the classical music world. People are not necessarily forthcoming with information that might help someone else get into the best schools/summer festivals/orchestras. I think there is an unwillingness to post both our hard earned knowledge and videos of ourselves playing. There are notable exceptions, but I found the type of content I was looking for largely absent.
Why are older students, like myself, so unwilling to share the videos I know they have of themselves playing excerpts? Not just the "practice fails" type videos, but the real stuff; our best efforts are often firewalled. If I may speculate, I think it’s because of how naked this style of playing can feel. Excerpts are like a stage designed specifically for us to walk upon and bear intense judgment. Why do that in the vicious waters of the internet? And anyway, no one wants to post things that will age quickly. We practice, we change how we play, and we get better. Youtube videos persist, though.
This is all a very long winded introduction to my project: creating a series of Youtube videos in which I play a wide range of orchestra excerpts, with 5-10 minutes of commentary from myself. I’ve posted the first four videos on my page, and I’d like to share them here on violinist.com, in case anyone in this community would benefit from watching them. I want them to be like the videos I sought for at the beginning of this project and couldn’t find.
In my most idealistic frames of mind, I would like to encourage others to post what they have, so we can all improve as a community. I’d settle for one or two people getting some phrasing ideas. I’ll be posting updates of this project as I finish the videos (there will be about 15). Enjoy!
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