Master Classes for adult beginners

April 25, 2010 at 02:39 AM ·

I would love to attend a masterclass for adult beginners, where every aspect of playing is addressed and where this a LOT of attention to detail. It would be great if one of you estimed teachers held a class like this in say, California????? (Japan is a bit too far)

You would earn the undying gratitude of at least one adult beginner! Maybe you'd even have a lot of fun??

Replies (23)

April 25, 2010 at 02:55 AM ·

Hey Catherine--I'd sure love to do your masterclass! I LOVE teaching adult's a bit of a specialty for me. However, I'm in Northern Arizona, and have a full time job, so I can't volunteer.  I wonder how it would turn out over a web-cam? Have you ever done a web-cam lesson? Has anyone ever tried a web-cam lesson?  Good luck, Catherine. You can always email me with questions if you don't get your masterclass.

April 25, 2010 at 03:53 AM ·

There's this:

Princeton Chamber Music Play Week:  workshops for adult musicians

2010 Schedule
Play Weekend PA Bethlehem, Pennsylvania May 14-16
Play Week East Kutztown, Pennsylvania June 20-27
Play Week West Denver, Colorado July 4-11
Play Week Virginia Lexington, Virginia July 18-25


April 25, 2010 at 04:41 PM ·

I posted the same issues to various teacher, but they all reacted the same, as if I pop my head off, or they just ignore the questions. That's kinda a downer for me, I know as a dult beginner or learner, we all get something good to a masterclass of sort for just adults only, at least in this subject we all in the same page. I kinda thinking that because we are adults, and way too late to learn the minute detail of the trade, it seems we have no right to learn those stuff, but again, we want to learn it, ( we have expressed it haven't we?) or if not at least to understand it.

We know that were not  be able to be virtuosos, but we want to be a decent player, that is why we are seeking/learning/paying for the lessons.


April 25, 2010 at 06:11 PM ·

Thank-you to all, for responding; Lora, I'm in Arizona too, so one of these days we might meet. Like Elinor says, I'm not dreaming of becoming a virtuoso, but I do think that some really good technical instruction would give me a boost and get me closer to where I want to be.

That said, I love my teacher because she has always respected me as a student, (although I'm an adult!) but I am feeling I need a more in depth approach.

I would also be so much fun to meet and play with other adult beginners.


April 25, 2010 at 06:28 PM ·

> I would also be so much fun to meet and play with other adult beginners.

I play duets weekly with another adult student of my teacher's.  It's so much fun, and very good for us in terms of developing sight-reading,  playing in tempo,  counting, awareness of the other player(s), and other skills that are required when playing in an ensemble (although neither of us has any plan to join a community orchestra soon).  I encourage other adult beginners to do the same. BTW, the duet book we are currently playing is Easy Baroque Duets for Violin by Betty Barlow - it's super easy (thus sight-readable for beginners) and the music is very nice.

April 25, 2010 at 06:35 PM ·

I agree this would be really great!  I also feel that they would never do this for late-starters as if they "didn't worth it" : (   It is also difficult to not get prejudice in competitions or such when you are a late starter.  But, in my opinion, a masterclasses for late starters with a good serious  teacher (and, no it's not necessary to be Itzakh Perlman ; ) where adults don,t feel "clumsy" since they are with their peers would be very fun and instructive!

Hop your wish will be fullfill Catherine!



April 26, 2010 at 05:09 AM ·


I think this topic can be explored in a lot of depth with care taken not to limit oneself too much.

To begin withit is worth tasking a closer look at what a masterclass actually is or is not.   There wa san article in the Strad a few yeras back about masterclasses which interviewed various players who conducted them and studnets who had particpated.  What emerged at the end as far as I can recall wa sa complete lack of consensus about what exactly one does in such a situation.   I think somebody wrote above that they were looking for `more depth` but actually in many ways a master class may actually have `less depth@ than one is used to. One of the reasons for this is that if the masterclass is an open event then the discussion of the teacher may well be (but not always) aimed at the general public.  If,  on the other hand ,  the masterclass is within the confines of an elite institute such as those done by Verngerov in the Academy then the situation may be the opposite.   So what do you want from a so called `masterclass?`

Do you want to perform and be coached publically?  Or are you hopin for a more intimate and close denvironment in which the teacher gives you her undivided attention and explores your palying in detail?

If the latter,  then how are you going to integrate this with the instruction and ideas of the teacher you already have?  Suppose the master teacher (something else taht we have yet to se edefined-  does it simply confer itself on anybone who does a masterclass?)   tells you soemthing that is in direct conflict with your current teacher`s advice and is harmful to you at the presnet moemnt? Who are you going to trust?  This is one of the reasons it is highly inadvizable to have more than one teahcer ,  at leats until your technique etc is well and truly stabilized.

It is fr this reason that many superb teacher sna dplayers will only make the simplest generalizations during a masterclass although these may well be highly benifical when attached to the auru and intensity of a super power musican and player.  

Then ther eis another kind of masterclass which is actually my prefrred syle of teahcing although I have never had the chance to implement it in Japan.  This wa sbasicallyhow Auer taught in which everyone was in the same room and learned form everyone else simultaneously. In an ideal world the student shoudl have individual lessons and thes ekind of group lesosns in the same week.

all in all,  my impression is that it is more a question of frustration at the way adults are treated by some teachers (whioch can be shameful and stupid on ocassion) and a perhaps a lack of decent performanc eand learning opportunities together in a sympathetic environment.   There are certainly an increaisng number of courses available in which amateur adults of any level can enjoy lessons,  chamber music and the like and this might perhaps help with the lack that you feel.

Anotehr idea I like to argue for is adults getting together in group sessions and teaching themselves ,  rather like the Jane Austen book club.  This might involve swappign techniques and comments of teachers, playign duets and other chamber music an dthe like. Then if one really wnated some kind of masterclass set up it might be posisble for everyone to chip in with enough cash to get a differnt or more renowned palyer to give a mornigns lessons with all of your group in attendence.

In a sense I suppose I am saying that if you want a masterclass badly enough then it is up to you to decided exactly who it is intended for,  what level, what degre eof asistnce,  opnesee to the public and so on. Then go ahead and get it organized.   That`s anotehr thing adults are really good at ;)



April 26, 2010 at 02:54 PM ·

The violin master classes that I have observed have been very informative.  The participants have been college students, but the observers have been all ages.  Its possible to learn a lot (maybe more) by observing and taking notes - then build the appropriate ideas into your own practice routine.  Some suggestions are:

First, if you are part of a large violin school, get several people talking to the school's management about master classes.  If you are in an individual teacher's studio, talk with other students about organizing and funding a master class.  Spread the cost and its not much for any one person.  If some of the participants are young and some are adults, so be it.  It is possible to learn a lot by observing also.  I am skeptical about the value of groups of adult students advising each other, though it may work in some situations.  Really good advice comes from people who have "paid their dues" and know a lot about the music, the instrument, and practice technique. 

Second, look around at several master class teachers and get feedback from participants and observers.  You can tell them you have certain objectives, but in my experience you mostly get their "violin personality" .  For example, one person, a concert master, brought up rhythm in many contexts.  Another person, a noted international soloist, brought up creative expression in many contexts.  Both sessions were excellent.

Third, find ways to play in or listen to master classes several times a year, if you really want to develop technique and artistry.  Take notes (or a video) while there and put the appropriate ideas into your practice routine - otherwise its in one ear and out the other.  The corollary to mostly getting the "violin personality" of the master class teacher is that it is good to do this regularly and change master class teachers because you'll get different views and skills expressed.  Over time, this range can broaden your own skills.

April 26, 2010 at 07:41 PM ·

Here is another option for those near the boston area:

I joined this event last year, and it was much fun. Ths is a 3-day chamber music event. There are 3-4 coaching sessions,  a masterclass on the 2nd day, and the actual performance on the last day, plus other activities.

The masterclass was very rewarding because I was able to learn a bit more about the challenges of the other repertoire that I was quite interested in learning in the future. Plus it was also like a dressed rehearsal for the actual performance, and that really helped =)

April 26, 2010 at 08:43 PM ·

 I am sorry to all of you that have asked me but I do not give masterclasses.

April 27, 2010 at 12:28 AM ·

Though you give advice to Einstein ; )  And wonders if he can count...

 Seriously, Is this your real name?  If yes, I must admit it's kind of a very lucky coincidence!  I imagine jury in exams seeing Fritz Kreisler on their scedule...  10 points in Boni ; )


April 27, 2010 at 03:06 AM ·

The answers have been interesting. I had no idea that a masterclass can be different to what I had in mind!  I love to watch people learn, and to see how they have different areas of strengths and difficulties than my own. Watching someone do something 'right' or 'wrong', makes me think about  how I do it.

I don't think there would be a real conflict for me bewteen the advice of my real teacher and that of the master teacher, because I imagine that at my level, the teaching will be quite uniform with some nuances...but that could be just my ignorance on the differences in technique. Even if I decide to choose my teacher's advice over the master teacher's (for instance, my teacher favours a forward vibrato as opposed to the backward one that many on this forum describe), it would just be nice to hear and see how a real talent expresses himself/herself and to listen to some specific points about my playing.

April 27, 2010 at 04:13 AM ·

So Catherine--maybe you could ask other teachers in your area if you could "sit in" and observe some of their lessons. You could be the "fly on the wall" and watch as others had their private lessons. I have learned alot just from being the silent observer like that. 

In addition, if ANY adult beginners feel disrespected or "unworthy", first ask yourself if it is possibly your own insecurity. (devil's advocate) Once you answer that question, if your teacher acts like you are not worth their time FIRE YOUR TEACHER!  You deserve to have a teacher who takes your progress seriously, and there are plenty of excellent teachers out there who would LOVE to guide an adult beginner! 

Catherine, I sincerely hope we can meet at some point down the road.


April 28, 2010 at 01:46 AM ·

 Look on Craigslist and other classified (here was a good start!!!) for a teacher.  Or just talk to local violinists, as that's how I found my teacher.  The lady I was talking to initially referred me to him, even though she was completely capable.  He has over 29 private students, and each one is tailored specifically to them.  I couldn't imagine trying to keep up with 29 different lesson plans, but he does. He even comes out to my house. There's likely the same kind of person in your area.


  It's great because he can really get to know your learning aptitude, and proceed as fast or slow as you can progress.  As well as completely go in the direction you want to go while still developing YOUR own sound.  I have found though, that this type of learning is more expensive than going to say, a local music lessons place (where for roughly the same price, I would get 5x the instruction time).  But I have have more confidence in knowing that he does it for a living, and has STRONG credentials (first chair at the orchestra, example), as compared to a person who just "teaches" at one of those places.  nothing against those places or people, but I feel a lot more at ease with the stronger teacher.  Simply put, quality over quantity.


good luck in your search!!!

April 28, 2010 at 02:46 PM ·

Nate, I'm surprised that a concertmaster/principal in a professional orchestra would recruit students on craigslist or classified. I'd think that they usually have a waiting list and word-of-mouth would have been enough to keep them busy.

April 28, 2010 at 05:10 PM ·

I was lucky. I am an amateur, but I opened my mouth and asked a few master teachers if they would teach an amateur who has no aspirations about the concert stage. Dorothy DeLay auditioned me and said, what the heck, let's see what we can do with an amateur. I also studied with Kurt Sassmannshaus. So take heart, it can be done, just ask. By the way, my present teacher here in St. Louis has gotten me better at playing than Miss DeLay did.

April 28, 2010 at 05:35 PM ·

@ CONI- Thanks for your listings!  i may catch that one happening in Denver at the Denver university in July!

April 30, 2010 at 03:38 PM ·

 Joyce - I didn't find my teacher via craigslist, I was just saying that was an option, as I've searched other markets other than where I am for violin items and ran accross a couple ads for people wanting to teach and they listed they have masters in, etc...


I didn't find my teacher on craigslist, he was definitely word of mouth.  I eMailed a lady who preforms at weddings and events to see if she did lessons, and when I mentioned improv and other things, she said she wasn't as confident in teaching what I was looking for as my current instructor, the guy she recommended.  Which is great with her honesty.  So sometimes all it takes is eMailing a person in your area, tell them what direction you want to go, and they may point you in the right direction!!!!

April 30, 2010 at 03:40 PM ·

 BTW - this is my instructor:

April 30, 2010 at 04:48 PM ·

Nate, it's great that your instructor and you are a good match.  Oftentimes, it's not really about how high-caliber the teacher is (Of course she/he must have a solid background) , but whether she/he is a good match with your learning style and personality. 

I'd be cautious about finding teachers on Craigslist and classified though - I tend to think that this is a desperate move for a teacher - teachers are wary about what kind of people they will recruit from those sources as well. They would rather have students/parents that are acquaintance of  their existing students/parents, I'd think.  While the teachers advertising on Craigslist/classified can be good, many of them are less established or less experienced, so it would be riskier than teachers sought via word-of-mouth. Just my $0.02.

May 4, 2010 at 12:38 AM ·

 You're probably right.  I didn't even think to look on classifieds to be honest.  I was looking for local performers and was eMailing them to see if they did teach.  Luckily, I only eMailed one person before I got a response!


  It was only when I saw that people actually posted on them when I was searching for other things that the thought came to front that an instructor can be sourced from classifieds.  Like you say, they're likely inexperienced or seasoned enough....

May 4, 2010 at 01:12 AM ·

How does one gain more experience in teaching, if people aren't willing to give a chance?

May 5, 2010 at 12:18 AM ·

> How does one gain more experience in teaching, if people aren't willing to give a chance?

Fair enough. I'd say it's best to start with those who you know/know you - my first teacher was a college freshman, and I was her first violin student. I would not have allowed myself to start violin with her if I did not have faith in her ability and maturity - I watched her grew up, and knew that she is bright, capable, and has a great personality. I was right - she turned out to be an excellent teacher, and helped me build a good foundation before she went back to college after summer. So, let your friends, relatives and neighbors, etc. know if you are interested in violin teaching.

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