What is your 'Masterclass' skill level?

January 16, 2012 at 12:21 AM · From time to time V.com gets topics on 'where am I' in my violin studies? Here's an easy way to get an idea and maybe to indicate what the levels are like for V.com contributors/readers.

Go to the Masterclass site (often cited on V.com): http://violinmasterclass.com/repertoire.php

And for each of the following

1. Violin Methods and Etudes

2. Violin and orchestra (concerto, pieces)

3. Violin and piano (sonatas and pieces)

(4. Solo violin; only for advanced players)

Look to see which repertoire you are currently studying.

That should give you a pretty good idea of what level you are. There is, of course, a big proviso: just because you are studying something does not mean its in your technical range or even if it was your tone, intonation etc might not be up to par. But that would take an auditory assessment. Maybe next time!

Replies (100)

January 16, 2012 at 02:06 AM · And for each of the following

1. Violin Methods and Etudes


2. Violin and orchestra (concerto, pieces)

4,6 (8)

3. Violin and piano (sonatas and pieces)


(4. Solo violin; only for advanced players)


So I guess I'm 5-6.

January 16, 2012 at 06:21 AM · Violin Methods- 4-8

Violin and orchestra- 5,7

Violin and Piano- 5,7,8

Violin Solos- 6,7

I honestly don't agree with most of those gradings though because the Vitali Chaconne is level 4 but in the AMEB syllabus it's a diploma piece. And Paganini Moto Perpetuo is level 8 but I don't find as hard as the Vitali Chaconne! So I wouldn't take it too seriously.

January 16, 2012 at 08:17 AM · I agree on the the vitali - I have not played it but did look it over and was very surprised to see it where it was. Also the Haydn C is in two different catagories! But overall I think the grading is pretty good and corresponds to other lists I've seen.

January 16, 2012 at 03:10 PM · Violin Methods and Etudes: 3

Violin and Orchestra: 4

Violin and Piano: 4

(I’ve been working on the Seitz concerto in g minor for what seems like forever but, all I have left to get right now are the up-bow staccatos)

Violin Solos: Ha-ha, not quite yet.

Well, now I feel like I need to practice a lot more:)

The replies to this thread should be interesting. I've often wondered were some members stand in their playing.


January 16, 2012 at 08:07 PM · This isn't a simple exercise. Some of the etude books I'm working in kind of run the gamut: Sevcik op.8 goes from 3 to 10; Kreutzer, 4 to 8; Flesch is 4 to 10. I do realize that there's Kreutzer and then there's Kreutzer, but . . .

Looking at the repertoire, I guess I'm about a 6 for the violin stuff. Seeing as I'm currently playing mostly viola, though, how does that convert? Maybe to about a 15, huh? (When I was first starting viola I bought both the Whistler position books. The blue one, 2nd & 4th was quite shopworn. I mentioned it to the guys in the shop, who said' "No one in the history of the viola has ever tried to learn second position!" Smart alecks.

January 16, 2012 at 08:51 PM · My last recital was all level 6, so I'd say I'm comfortable performing at 6, and most of my stretching is at about 7 with a dash of 8. But I'd love to one day be comfortable performing the grade 7 stuff that I practice.

January 16, 2012 at 09:48 PM · 1. Violin Methods and Etudes -

Level 0 (I haven't "touched" any of those it seems)

I'll grade myself level 0.5 because I did twinkle and gavotte, lol

2. Violin and orchestra (concerto, pieces) -

Level 0

3. Violin and piano (sonatas and pieces) -

Level 4

(4. Solo violin; only for advanced players) -

Level 0


Gee, now that sucks. Perhaps it is because of my piece choices.

Despite the ratings, I'd rate myself at about level 4 or 5.



January 16, 2012 at 11:17 PM · In the symphony, I play all levels, whether I like it or not.

January 16, 2012 at 11:56 PM · Theo - I hate to tell you this but after being a long time etude/scale hater I'm sold that you can not get anywhere without them. The problem is not so much with you but with your teacher. If you play a tune with vibrato you can disguise a weak intonation. Similarly, if you stick to a narrow range of pieces you can (to some extent anyway) disguise a weak bow hand. However, you are bare when you play both a scale and an etude since these focus on single aspects of or playing ability.

My teacher was not that keen on etudes so its something I've sort of driven - but the effect on my lessons has been dramatic since she now knows many more of my weaknesses.

January 17, 2012 at 02:45 AM · 1. Violin Methods and Etudes - 3-5?

2. Violin and orchestra (concerto, pieces)- 4 at the moment..

3. Violin and piano (sonatas and pieces) 4-6

(4. Solo violin; only for advanced players) - N/A

There are some things here that I have never done and some things I'm already done with.. so I'm not quite sure how to rate that. :) I think what I really need to do is learn more of a variety. But then again, a large part of my repertoire is non-traditional (such as Sacred.) I do feel like I need to be past learning so slowly, though.

And I DO agree that the Masterclass needs graded repertoire for Orchestral works.. If they did, I'd be more in the 6-7 range. :)

January 17, 2012 at 03:10 AM · Emily: Yeah... Same here. The worst part is I'm not even in a professional orchestra and yet the conductor just happily choose something like Brahms Symphony #1... ... I wonder when he will bring up Strauss Don Juan...

As for my level...

Etude: I guess I'm a 7 because I have a few Kreutzer yet to play

Orchestra: 8

Piano: 6... Yeah... a bit lack of progress here :p

Solo: 8...

But to actual perform a piece... hmm... I have performed a level 6...

January 17, 2012 at 04:01 AM · My symphony is semi-pro. It's a good stretch to make the effort to get the right notes out at the right time, and play with proper bowings and dynamics. I wouldn't offer my part as a soloist, though! With some of the repertoire, my only goal is to blend.

January 17, 2012 at 09:54 AM · I hadn't noticed the lack of the orchestral rep, but thats right. Perhaps we could suggest he adds that?

January 17, 2012 at 12:02 PM · Hi, also you have to consider that he is grading the music based on whole pieces, not individual movements. So The four seasons are counted as 5 or 6 but in reality there are parts like second move winter, which is quite reasonable to play. I think the way he's graded them is by stating which techniques you need for each grade then grouping together the pieces with those techniques. E.g double stops, 7th position or spic, martele portato etc. But obviously in some cases these techniques will be harder as the piece may be faster or in a strange key and that hasn't been taken into consideration

January 17, 2012 at 01:25 PM · 1. Violin Methods and Etudes - 2

2. Violin and orchestra (concerto, pieces) - 0

3. Violin and piano (sonatas and pieces) - 0

It seems I have been lazy hehe!

January 17, 2012 at 02:36 PM · "What is your 'Masterclass' skill level?"


January 17, 2012 at 07:25 PM · Hanna{ but what about the Vitali Chaconne at a 4? Seems to make no sense at all.

'Peter self grade NIL.' Well, give yourself a 10 then for violin Fakery Masterclass... :D

January 17, 2012 at 07:32 PM · I last played the Vitali when I was a kid and so I don't remember how hard or not it was. I don't think the WV Lark is that hard though ... (wink)

January 17, 2012 at 07:48 PM · I could score highly on Violin Fakery. At least, nobody seems to have rumbled me yet! Of course, there's a huge difference between playing these pieces and performing them - just to take one example, the Wieniawski Legende. Rated at 5. I remember doing it for Grade 8 - badly. Not sure I'd like to do it in public even now. Brings back one happy memory - I was at university (doing engineering) and was told by the music department there that I had to re-audition for their orchestra. So I picked the Legende on the grounds that is has one of the most filthy piano parts to read (originally bassoons in thirds - all in the left hand) - and the guy who made the decision was playing the piano. I can still visualise

the look on his face. Same idiot who later that year attempted Elgar's Falstaff with that university orchestra. And no, it wasn't that good.

January 17, 2012 at 08:10 PM · @Elise - I haven't seen the need for etudes yet, but I can't say that I hate them. I just play the etudes that sound more like pieces, or etudes that are fun but challenging to play.

I do scales too but it's rare. Perhaps I should practice them more..

Since you seem confident that I'll need those etudes, I'll ask my teacher to start me on some.

January 17, 2012 at 08:46 PM · Peter: just for the heck of it why not try playing the Vitali again now. Maybe you've reached the Masterclass Peak and are on the way down the other side :)

Just sayin'....

January 17, 2012 at 08:51 PM · Well Masterclass boosts me up but listening to Barati play Erlking on YouTube takes me back down to reality. If Barati is a 10 then, well let's not go there. I suppose that one could get a good read on one's capability by asking for in tune 4 octave a flat major and minor scales in 16th notes with a quarter note = 160. I'll skip that test.

January 17, 2012 at 09:18 PM · C'mon Corwin - whats your score? It seems all the better players are avoiding the call :) We starters and mid-level players want to recognize the achievers in our midst :)

Else the whole thing gets skewed...

January 17, 2012 at 09:38 PM · Well said Elise:) I'm dying to know were everyone rates themselves!

January 17, 2012 at 10:06 PM · I could give a number, but that won't tell anything about my abilities. Moreover, I think this ranking is silly. I don't see these pieces as things to be conquered or report cards that I can wave and brag about. I'm not going to be satisfied when I've gotten to the next number, but rather when I've said what I've wanted to say on the piece I'm playing, and when I feel right presenting my interpretations to an audience.

I don't mean to be a spoilsport, but I think that, other than providing a possible order for choosing pieces, these numbers are inherently meaningless and merely encourage competition with others rather than emphasizing the importance (and enjoyment) of each piece we choose to play.

I think there are better methods of keeping yourself on track and motivated. Our teachers, our own ears, and the ears of our audience are better measures.

January 17, 2012 at 10:32 PM · I do believe the post was intended for fun Christian.

Of course the ratings aren't that precise but they are meant to be just guidelines of a players ability.


January 17, 2012 at 11:22 PM · Thanks John - yes indeed. If you read my original post I hope that is clear - the only real way to evaluate a musician is by listening to her or his music. But we can't do that here!

But there is a dark side to this because even though we may agree with the above, thats not necessarily how the world will evaluate us. After all, if one violinist said they played the Beethoven violin concerto and another the Haydn C don't you automatically presume the former is more advanced?

So Christian, its all tongue in cheek. After all I know I can baa baa black sheep better than anyone here, even if I do get stumped on Kreutzer 2... :-\

January 18, 2012 at 12:00 AM · Well, I think this rating thing is pretty dumb. In fact, I rate a 0 since I haven't played any of the Sussmanhaus etude books. In general, I've played more of the small numbered stuff and less of the big numbered stuff. But, paradoxically, I've played Tchaikovsky concerto, but not the Four Seasons. (Tchaikovsky is higher rated than 4 Seasons)

But since you're "making me" :) :

etudes, 7

violin and orchestra, 8

violin and piano, 7

violin solo, 7

Of course, I'm going to get all the music for the list at the library and slog through them this weekend. So after this weekend you can say I'm a 10 on all of them. :)

January 18, 2012 at 12:02 AM · Actually, Elise, I wouldn't assume that. I've heard some absolutely dire performances of the Beethoven, and some exquisite Haydn. If I remember correctly, the Bach Double was graded at 4, maybe 5. YouTube has video of Menuhin, Oistrakh, Stern, Manze, Podger, etc., etc., etc. playing the Bach. Just because they are playing this piece doesn't mean they can't play circles around most of us here (myself absolutely included) with far more difficult repertoire. They also do a waaaay better job on the Bach than I can.

January 18, 2012 at 12:17 AM · Lisa - we must have crossed strings - thats exactly what I was trying to say. Most ASSUMe that the violinist playing the harder piece is better, and perhaps on average that is true, but its certainly not a fact.

The title of the topic is what is your 'Masterclass' level. Not what is your comparative level against everyone in the world :D

Can we have some fun with this?

January 18, 2012 at 12:22 AM · Just remember, Elise, you are talking to violinists here- they make Type A's seem like slackers. You want some fun? Find some violists to hang out with!

January 18, 2012 at 12:33 AM · I'll make it a point to hang out with myself then:)

January 18, 2012 at 01:34 AM · Hi Elise, I had a go at this but admit to being a bit lost. You see, when my teacher gives me something to learn, more often than not it's a photocopy out of one of her many books. Some of the pieces and studies have names, but some are only called things like 'Allegro' or 'Rondo' with the occasional composer or editor named, but I can't really place them on the 'masterclass lists'. I haven't been given any concertos that I know of. The only one I recognise was the Fiocco Allegro, which is level 3 on the list. The studies I am given don't tell me anything about whose they are, they just have numbers. I know I am doing AMEB level 6 at the moment, but if that means anything to you or is comparable to the Masterclass level 6, I have no idea. I guess we do things a little differently here in Oz.

January 18, 2012 at 02:29 AM · Elise, I apologize for my moralizing. I realized that it's in good fun. I just am reluctant to give meaning to any of these numbers in case they get taken seriously. Music can be very competitive, and that's one of the few things that annoys me about it. People can take it too seriously and in the wrong ways (and I'm certainly not immune).

I'm working on the Viotti 23 now, so I guess I'm a 7 (Although the girls tell me I'm a 10). Take that!

January 18, 2012 at 02:39 AM · Christian, that's sort of like reading fortune cookies and adding "in bed" afterwards. :) But okay.

January 18, 2012 at 03:03 AM · Hmmm,

1. Violin Methods and Etudes

0 on violin, 7-8 on viola

2. Violin and orchestra (concerto, pieces)

0 on violin, none of my viola pieces are listed.

3. Violin and piano (sonatas and pieces)

3 on violin, none of my viola pieces are listed

4. Solo violin; only for advanced players

6 on violin, again, no viola pieces listed

given the definitions of levels, I'm guessing 6-ish? Hard to say. I've played wicked hard stuff in the 10+ range and survived, but still struggle to make 1-3 level stuff sound absolutely beautiful.

January 18, 2012 at 03:50 AM · Mendy - violists are all 10 in my book - I mean reading that funny K clef thingy for starters and not falling down after holding that clothes closet up at your neck for an hour or two. Wow...

January 18, 2012 at 03:53 AM · Millie: here's what you do. Next lesson insist that your teacher tells you what you are playing!! If you like you can sweeten it by saying you want to look up the composer. All teachers kill for an interested student ;) ;)

The masterclass list is rather thin at the lower end - partly I guess becaues there is so much different material (short pieces mostly). However, the studies should still work - if, that is, you are doing studies...

January 18, 2012 at 11:57 AM · You're right, Elise, I should be showing more interest in what I'm learning and who wrote it, and not assuming it's just 'standard repertoire out of standard books'. From now on, should some seemingly arbitrary page land on my music stand, I'll ask for the details, if they're not listed. And if they are, I'll do a little research on it for familiarisation purposes. Most of what I'm given I've never heard played before, either. The same goes for the plainly numbered studies so they'll get the same treatment.

I did find one of the studies I finished late last year was Kreutzer No.8. Kreutzer is first mentioned in the list at level 4. So I guess I might be either level 3 or 4.

January 18, 2012 at 01:02 PM · Do you mean Kreutzer 8 or Kayser 8? The former is really hard - you would be 5 or 6 to do that! Kreutzer 8 is a study on arpegios in E, mostly in first position but finishing in I think 9th position. Is that the one?

January 18, 2012 at 01:33 PM · I would almost think it beneficial to not know the name of the piece. That way you would be forced to work out all the counting instead of cheating and listening to them on Youtube.

January 18, 2012 at 03:06 PM · While I think it's handy to have some sort of measuring stick (and I'm in the process of trying to find my place on that stick at the moment)...I'm not sure what the best one would be. I'm not certain where I am with the MasterClass list either, because I'm all over place - using RCM books, Suzuki pieces, and various other materials. But I recently decided to focus on the RCM books (and suggestions) at this point because it seems a reasonable approach to progressing...and I do want to see myself progress.

What I don't like is the dismissive attitude given towards certain percieved 'easy' pieces. That they're somehow only for learning, or for children or beginners, and not worthy of being played by anyone more skilled.

Frankly, despite my long-standing enjoyment/appreciation of classical music...I often prefer to listen to easier, more straightforward pieces for my own pleasure. A lot of the more 'virtuostic' works, while technically dazzling, aren't really all that appealing to just listen to...

BTW...I also prefer to listen to classical works in their entirety. I'm not just a fan of the more melodic excerpts...

January 18, 2012 at 04:29 PM · John wrote:

"I would almost think it beneficial to not know the name of the piece. That way you would be forced to work out all the counting instead of cheating and listening to them on Youtube"

An interesting point of view - with the assumption that the only valid way to learn a piece is off a piece of music. Music is an aural tradition and one could equally argue that the only way you should learn it is by listening and then reproducing. Of course, thats not practical with the myriad of details in a piece (let alone an orchestral work) so we have to have music - but perhaps music is a necessary evil to be avoided as much as possible?

I certainly listen to pieces that I am learning or plan to learn on recordings. Indeed, I feel I have to get the music in my bones to really learn it at all (though I can sight read too). To me the music comes first and the notes after, (which is what Suzuki emphasized for learning) but I know that is not the opinion of all.

January 18, 2012 at 07:05 PM · Late to the game, but here goes...

Methods/Etudes: 3.5 - 4.5 (If you count adequate, maybe 5 -- if you're generous)

Concertos: 5.5 (done some from 5 and some from 6, but not all in either -- a matter of personal preference)

Violin and Piano: N/A

Solos: Eh. Bits of 6, but nothing complete. So either N/A, or extrapolate down to 5.

And like Emily, in orchestra I play whatever gets put before me. Some of it is pretty easy, some of it pretty hard. I'm not great, but I usually do OK by the first concert.

January 18, 2012 at 07:25 PM · I am one who also doesn't enjoy placing myself on a graded scale, but for fun I find myself at:

Etudes: 7-8.

Concertos: 7-9

Violin/piano: 6

Solo: 6-7

I am going to be stuck in the 7-8 level of etudes forever as I am still figuring out how to bring Dont to some level of consistent quality. That man and his evil etudes are enough to make anyone pull out the wine after a practice session.

After looking at the list I realize I haven't done near as much with the piano/violin type pieces as I have in the other categories.

January 18, 2012 at 07:26 PM · > with the assumption that the only valid way

> to learn a piece is off a piece of music.

In Western Classical Music, if you intend to actually interpret a musical score, as opposed to just copying someone else's performance, it is the only valid way.

While there are genres of music that exist solely through an aural tradition, and benefits for players studying a work to get a handle on many different interpretations of a piece by hearing other artists, the point made here about not copying performances off of Youtube is sound advice.

I had a student show up earlier this week who had been assigned Kreutzer No. 1 come and play it at a ridiculously fast tempo. I found out after I asked him what he thought "Adagio sostenuto" meant and his response was "well, on YouTube they played it much faster."

Well then, by all means ignore what the composer wrote and do what you heard on YouTube! What the heck does Kreutzer know, anyhow!? ;)

January 18, 2012 at 07:40 PM · Hang on, just because you listen to the music does not mean you are ignoring the manuscript! Noone suggested that. Indeed, if everyone learned the music ONLY from the manuscript - that is without ever listening to any other pieces from the composer do your really think we would get closer to the composer's intent? Indeed, even though it is hard to quantify I think there is an 'playing history' that is passed down between artistes for many if not most composers.

Perhaps an example is Mozart. His music is generally played with a very airy style. How do you get that from the manuscript of, say, his IVth concerto? Or can I play it any way I like as long as I am consistent with the precise markings on the MA alone?

January 18, 2012 at 07:42 PM · I guess I feel the way that I wrote because my counting has been hampered greatly (I believe) because for the vast majority of the time, I have had access to a recording. Because of this I would (and still do too much of the time:( go to the recording for rhythms and counting. Now I can't sightread very well because of this rut I've worked myself into:( I think recordings are great after you do the work on your own for the piece, but you have to do the work first. If not, you'll embarrass yourself during the first orchestra rehearsal:0 I still have bad dreams.


January 18, 2012 at 08:06 PM · My two cents: I used to listen to the pieces I was playing a lot and I struggled to not imitate what I had heard when I played, and it did affect my style and rhythm quite a bit.

Finally, I got a teacher who believed in listening to a lot of music by the composer that you were playing, but never of the piece you were actually playing ie. you're playing a Mozart concerto so listen to a lot of Mozart but not the actual concerto. Once I started doing I found that my music was more my own but still in the general style of the composer without sounding like I was copying a particular performance.

January 18, 2012 at 09:06 PM · That's excellent advice Mr./Mrs. Saunders

(Sorry, I don' know what Bev stands for)

January 18, 2012 at 09:29 PM · No issues... :-) My full name is Beverly but it's been so long since I've used it.

January 18, 2012 at 09:47 PM · Bev, thats a very neat idea. I wonder if I could do it!! I love to listen to a variety of players - maybe thats an alternative. If you listen to only one you can be biased as to how the piece should be performed. However, if you listen to a lot you get an idea of the possibilities. I think its taught me a lot about musicallity within the genre. Also, I love to listen to the less and very much not so famous play. That helps identify whats missing...

January 19, 2012 at 05:39 AM · Hi Elise, sorry to take a bit to answer your question. It's definitely Kreutzer 8, and how I know is recently I downloaded all the Kreutzer studies, as I wanted to know what people here on v.com are talking about. Kreutzer gets a mention a lot. I was very surprised to see the study I had just completed, as number 8 in the list. Yes, it's arpeggios and is in E, and it is a bit difficult once speeded up properly. But my teacher has had us reaching for the occasional high notes right from the start so that's not an issue. But the rest of the studies sure look hard, I hope to avoid some of those if I can!

I also like Bev's idea of learning a composer's style but not playing a carbon copy version of something you've been listening to. It's almost automatic in me, if I've heard it that way, it gets copied that way. Great point.

January 19, 2012 at 05:56 AM · Greetings,

Elise asked:

>Do you mean Kreutzer 8 or Kayser 8? The former is really hard - you would be 5 or 6 to do that!

Yes. But an old Russian dude (maybe Yankelevitch) wrote a variaiotn/version of this etude that frequents 99th position with all manner of feindish extras. Truly, truly nasty. You used ot be able to download it from the Strad Magazine freebie department (in itslef remarkably small...) The original wa senough for my taste.



January 19, 2012 at 07:28 AM · After a lot of thought I know what my skill level number must be: pi! That's called transcendental ability. But then again, things may be more complex than that, so 8 + 10i is probably a better estimate.

January 19, 2012 at 08:46 AM · > Hang on, just because you listen to the

> music does not mean you are ignoring the

> manuscript! Noone suggested that.

I know, I didn't say that either and I do agree with you. I simply asserted that learning a piece of music only by rote instead of *interpreting* the score doesn't usually yield usable results.

> Perhaps an example is Mozart. His music is

> generally played with a very airy style.

> How do you get that from the manuscript

> of, say, his IVth concerto?

I wouldn't want to. Does it seem reasonable to get "very airy" from a piece that opens with an entire string section, two oboes, and two horns in unison rhythm for three bars in a fanfare-like statement?

It's a matter of interpretation, I guess...

> Or can I play it any way I like as long

> as I am consistent with the precise

> markings on the MA alone?

I would say that a professional violinist should be able to produce a convincing rendition of a work by Mozart simply from studying the score alone. However, this must be supported by the training and education in music that covers everything from technical concepts of playing the instrument to having a comprehensive understanding of Mozart's work both in knowing scores and hearing performances.

Again, my only opposition is to learning works without consulting the written score where one exists. While we can spend all day arguing about the intentions of a composer (and that's fine), in application most of us who teach don't want to waste the time arguing with students who won't (or can't) play the dotted-eighth/sixteenth rhythms at the beginning of the fourth concerto because they are copying someone else on YouTube who "interprets" the rhythm as triplets instead.

January 19, 2012 at 08:59 AM · Gene wrote: "in application most of us who teach don't want to waste the time arguing with students who won't (or can't) play the dotted-eighth/sixteenth rhythms at the beginning of the fourth concerto because they are copying someone else on YouTube who "interprets" the rhythm as triplets instead"

Ah. That I understand. Perhaps a solution there is, as above, for them to listen to a number of versions, at least one by a technocrat such as Hillary Hahn (love her playing for that reason, I think she exhibits terrific accuracy combined with a subtle musicallity). We all have to have our ears trained to achieve the required level of finess.

Howeve,r I'd also guess that a student who copies the version on youtube is probably unlikely to get there from the manuscript alone either!

January 19, 2012 at 06:24 PM · Bart, that's all well and good in theory, but I'm more interested in your skill when your performance wave-function collapses.

January 19, 2012 at 06:54 PM · Christian, in that case we are left with the real part. That is, unless a suitable conjugate comes along. And even then the result is indeterminate. By the way, those wave function collapses have a way of happening during performance :( .

Violin Playing as an Eigenvalue Problem.

January 19, 2012 at 08:25 PM · And I am awaiting Bart's Fourier transform plot. Then we'll decide if he's for real or not.

January 19, 2012 at 08:46 PM · I always thought the Paganini caprices were hard, until I did a Fourier transform on them. I wish they taught us that earlier.

January 19, 2012 at 09:25 PM · yup, you can nail it by just hitting the peak frequencies.

Unfortunately it sounds lik %^&* as you lost the time domain...

January 19, 2012 at 11:24 PM ·

January 19, 2012 at 11:43 PM · Hmmm. The Masterclass rating is real integers - you can't have virtual real integers can you? Or can you??? Does quantum mechanics have a virtual component? I mean other than the Higgs that is...

Help... I think my mind is having a random walk...

January 20, 2012 at 01:27 AM · I think part of the problem today in playing the violin music of Mozart (or Bach) is that you are looking at the music from at least two removes unless you take the trouble to play it on a violin set up as in the period, with plain gut strings and with a bow of the period. Then you'll have some idea of what the sound would have been like, what fingering would likely have been used, and (most importantly) how the bowing worked.

January 20, 2012 at 01:59 AM · What seems to me to be more fundamental in the Violin Masterclass gradings is the definition of the technical levels, rather than the specific pieces that are recommended within the levels. Of course, pieces must be worked on in order to ascertain the appropriate level.

The definition of the levels is general enough to enable a realistic comparison to be made between all four members of the orchestral string family irrespective of the pieces. So, as a violinist I'd currently rate my level as 5 (possibly 4 depending on the phase of the moon!), and as a cellist I would be at 8.

January 20, 2012 at 02:11 AM · Does that mean (and I use that word advisedly) you are are ranked at a 6 in viola Trevor?


And that is the interesting point with the Masterclass gradings: technical difficulty. I wish we had the complementary grading on musical difficulty. The bellweather I think would be the mozart concertos: low to midlevel technically, high to near impossible musically :D

January 20, 2012 at 11:56 AM · Elise, and 10 on the double bass?


January 20, 2012 at 12:08 PM · See, all you need is a viol thats as big as a house and you would be a superstar! The fact that it would play too low for anyone to hear might be an added benefit... :-\

January 20, 2012 at 02:10 PM · Thanks Elise, fun idea for a discussion topic.

Looking at that repertoire list I find myself to be quite consistently in level 6.

I also agree that the lack of orchestra repertoire on that list is a bit of a shame, considering that most violinists play in orchestras. With our small amateur orchestra we have just started on the Nutcracker suite, it's a lot of fun and not easy to play cleanly.

January 20, 2012 at 02:20 PM · Jean, It's easy to see why almost every full time professional orchestra violinist is a 10 + when playing Nutcracker. They get 2-3 rehearsals and then the performance. If they don't have professional chops they cannot do, week in and week out, professional repertory. Last week our local symphony orchestra did Rachmaninoff's Isle of the Dead. it is probably the first time most of them had performed this virtuoso masterpiece and I doubt they had more than three rehearsals. They also did Rach 1 and Rach 4 concertos on the same program. So yes I think we need to add some levels.

January 20, 2012 at 02:24 PM · Did I mention that the week before they did Rachmaninoff's Symphonic Dances?

January 20, 2012 at 03:56 PM · It's always interesting to see how these lists are formulated...this one makes me feel better about myself than I think I deserve to. The relative distance between the levels must follow a bell curve. And there are some pieces I just can't believe belong in the same category together.

(Also, I didn't take it to mean "you must have played *all* the following pieces" -- I went by the highest achievement.)

Here goes nothing:

9 (assuming these are the easier Paganini Caprices since they're in more than one category)




I looked at Erlkonig once. That was more than enough.

January 20, 2012 at 04:51 PM · Bart Wrote:

After a lot of thought I know what my skill level number must be: pi! That's called transcendental ability. But then again, things may be more complex than that, so 8 + 10i is probably a better estimate.

Well, it looks you are poles apart from the rest of the crowd, here. I would give that joke a good zero. Is this some kind of (Bode) plot?? Maybe so, but I think I have already filtered out this digression.

Apologies to those who don't wear a purple robe and a hat with moons and stars on it. :-)

January 20, 2012 at 04:52 PM · Elise, for you I'd do anything. Here is your Fourier plot:

Guess which piece? (it's written in the picture, duh!)

The 8 + 10i joke was more serious than it looked. The 8 is real, because I have played some pieces in that category, and the 10 is imaginary (what I can do when nobody, not even I, is listening).

Another serious thing: I cannot make heads or tails of the Violinmasterclass lists. The most difficult violin/piano piece I know (Schubert's Fantasie) ranks no higher than 7. Obviously, Prof S. knows what he's doing, but I don't understand it well enough to use his levels as a yardstick. And anyhow, the idea was to have fun, so I tried to poke some.


January 20, 2012 at 04:53 PM · Eric wrote:

Are we all ready for some Group Theory?

More like group therapy...

January 20, 2012 at 06:16 PM · Elise & Trevor- I used a multiplier of 2.5 to extrapolate from violin to viola. Seeing as the viola audition for a symphony consists of only two elements (A.} Hold the viola from memory. B.} Name any three of the strings.}, wouldn't a level 4 for violin equal at least a ten for a violist?

January 20, 2012 at 06:30 PM · Lisa LOL! But on that scale I am at least a 5 - and I only held a viola twice (but from memory)!!

Viola players are all 10s because we violins are desperate to find one to complete the backup group in our quartets...

Oops, sorry for the momentary honesty. I mean complete the full chord complement and binding key for our quartets. Phew - party line...

January 20, 2012 at 06:36 PM · You mean "someone who can play in tune and in time to help the cellist keep order?"

January 20, 2012 at 07:28 PM · yes, exactly, sure, whatever keeps 'em happy... :)

January 21, 2012 at 04:47 PM · Violin Methods: Level 4

Violin and Orchestra: Level 8

Violin and Piano: Level 5

Solo violin: Level 6

Average Score: 5.75

Guess I'm pretty much all over the place. Strange thing is is that I haven't covered much lower level stuff.

January 21, 2012 at 06:36 PM · Joshua, that may feel good - I mean getting up there to the hard concertos and all - but you may end up paying for it down the line if you've missed the foundation stuff.

I must confess to being a bit like that too. Right now I'm working 60-70% basic technique and just enough rep to fulfill my committments.

January 21, 2012 at 09:19 PM · my skill level is 2 , + or - 6, standard deviation of 3. Sometimes people clap ( politely? ) after a performance. They even use words like "enjoyable" on occasion. It is better to perform in a place where they serve alcohol.

Some day I hope to record the Bach S&P G minor Adagio and post it on my blog.

January 21, 2012 at 10:58 PM · Methods/Etudes: 8

Violin and Orch: 8

Violin and Piano: oh gosh, 4

Violin Solos: 7-8

blaaha cant wait for Sibelius...

January 21, 2012 at 11:47 PM · Amrita - check out Brahms sonatas. I just can't get enough... And it blows your MCrating into the stratosphere :D

[OK, no one take that seriously ... ]

January 22, 2012 at 03:25 AM · thanks Elise! I will definitely take a look at them :)

January 25, 2012 at 02:17 PM · @Hendrik Hak

"It is better to perform in a place where they serve alcohol."

That reminds me of when we were on holiday some years ago near a village up in the mountains in the Tyrol. It was just before the tourist season and our big hotel a couple of miles outside the village was almost empty and strongly reminiscent of "The Shining" (oo-er!).

Anyway, one evening we went down to the village square to hear the village band perform its stuff. The band marched into the square, resplendent in their uniforms, and took their places on the platform. After the first piece, serving wenches provided each member of the band with a stein of the local brew. Colleagues of said wenches provided the same service amongst the audience in the square. After every piece fresh steins were provided, and this set the tone for the rest of the evening. It became evident after half an hour that the quality of the band's playing was changing noticeably, but it didn't matter because the audience was matching them stein for stein. A jolly good time was had by all.

Btw, it would be a gross inaccuracy to say that the band "marched" back to their HQ at the end of the evening!

January 25, 2012 at 02:36 PM · And I bet their MC level was less than 50% on the way back compared to the way out!!

January 25, 2012 at 03:29 PM · @elise stanley

Not according to the audience.

February 26, 2012 at 12:44 PM · Etudes: Somewhere between 7-9

Concerti: 8-10

W/Piano: 6-9

Solo: 8-9

February 27, 2012 at 10:41 AM · Wow, according to that I am all over the place!

I have been playing for almost 2 years, here we go.

-Methods-Level 2 in Suzuki, level 3 for Wohlfahrt, and level 4 for Flesch scales

-Violin and Orchestra-Level 4

-Violin and Piano-Level 0

So I guess I'm a mediocre beginner!

February 27, 2012 at 01:44 PM · Hello,

methods: 2 and 3

violin and orchestra: ?

violin and piano: 2

I can't answer for the orchestra, because I don't play all the movements of the concerti. And I've never played them with an actual orchestra. So, what could be what I do worth? Not much. If I'd just judge by a movement, or two, played alone, or with piano, I'd be a 4 (really not convinced).

I think there are only four levels when it comes to playing music:

level 1: you enjoy studying, but the results aren't really pleasing to the ear

level 2: you enjoy your playing (it sounds good to you)

level 3: others (your Mom doesn't count) could enjoy your playing, as well

level 4: you're really good

I'm on level 2. Some people play, say, Paganini caprices, but they could still be a 2, if it isn't really good that somebody else would experience any pleasure listening to it.

So, the question isn't what I can play, but what I can play that anyone (besides my mother - I roll my eyes) would be interested to hear.

I'm already happy with what I do, because I enjoy doing it. I'd like to get to the level where I'm playing OK, intonation OK, phrasing OK, etc, so that an unsuspected audience could hear it and think that it was pleasing, not a pain.

February 27, 2012 at 02:20 PM · This topic has almost reached its pull-by-date and its been fun to see all the self-ratings. I was hoping we would get one star that could rank at the top all the way through - but none yet. I think Ross is the highest.

Caroline - I like your four catagories, they are pretty accurate but you are obviously on different ones depending on the piece. What I would suggest is that you don't waste your time on Paganini but put all your effort into developing your tone and basic bowing skills. People would far more like to listen to a catagory 4 baa baa black sheep than a catagory 1 paganini; but you can't even get that without a good sound.

February 27, 2012 at 03:07 PM · Okay, per their definition I'm a level 4. I play Wohlfahrt, Some Kayser, Some Kruetzer, Some scales, Some Telemann Fantasias, Some Bach No. 2 Partita, Bits and pieces of Paganini Caprices, Paganini Cantabile in D, No piano and violin pieces (No pianist), No orchestral or concerto except for Bach in Am (solo). I have attempted too much, too quickly but I have not had or been around the right environment. Most of what I've learned has been on my own. Oh, I taught myself using the Suzuki books before I secured a teacher when I was in my 20's. I'm 49 now and excited about all this again.

February 27, 2012 at 04:31 PM · I was at a masterclass today and my skill level was pretty poor. I just sat and listened, a bit gobsmacked. I was pretty good.

I was some guy I've never heard of giving it - Maxim Vengerov or some name like that. Not a bad player either

February 27, 2012 at 04:32 PM · Caroline,

I love your categories. They make sense!

And I'm all over the place in them. It depends on day, mood, and piece.


February 27, 2012 at 07:23 PM · Wow, you are up there Carly - and Peter is a chicken...

C'mon Peter, lets have your rating...

February 27, 2012 at 08:25 PM · Whatever the top mark is, I will give it to myself!

August 31, 2016 at 07:35 PM · I would be REALLY interested where these people from 2012 would rank themselves today!

August 31, 2016 at 07:47 PM · This is 100 comments on the thread, so you'll have to start a new one. :-)

This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

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