Isaac Malkin

March 28, 2004 at 06:25 AM · Hello Everyone!

Mr. Malkin is my cousin's teacher and I heard he is a fantastic pedagogue. I was just curious if anyone here has studied with him, or knows anyone that has, or just heard something about him. Thanks. Chris

Replies (13)

March 28, 2004 at 12:39 PM · yeah he teaches at msm prep (at he did when i went there) and he teaches at the college. later.

March 28, 2004 at 10:12 PM · Both of his daughters are very good violinists.

April 26, 2004 at 02:09 AM · I studied with Malkin for about a year. Unfortunately I had just started college and was commuting from philadelphia once a week, so I didn't get much out of it (my fault, primarily). It's always a stupid idea to mix violin + academics.

He's a very nice person, and it's true that both of his daughters are amazing violinists. He helped me a lot with tension in my right arm. His daughter Ana is an excellent pedagogue as well. I thought she was even better in my case.

May 13, 2004 at 09:14 PM · Chris,

I do not recommend Malkin as a teacher. First, many of my collegeues have studied with him and told me that all he works on is technique, and no musical aspects whatsoever. They also tell me that he keeps them on pieces for long amounts of time. One student was playing one concerto for two years. You may not want to believe me, but it is true.

Malkin is very out for the money also. He only wants to know you if you are going to pay his rate. Many people also say that his daughters are good, but after seeing them perform, they are nothing to write home about. They are not great. Average, but not great. Overall, I suggest you find a better teacher. If you are looking at the manhattan school, try Zukerman, Kopec, or Kalinovsky. Many people have really enjoyed studing with them.

Good luck.

May 14, 2004 at 08:40 PM · Neil Weintrob

May 14, 2004 at 11:42 PM · Chris, are you thinking of studying more, or are you just curiuos?

May 16, 2004 at 04:55 AM · I know him. He is a very talented, and responsible teacher and great violinist as well.

May 16, 2004 at 02:58 PM · no no, I'm not considering studying more...I was just curious about what all of you thought. THanks guys!

August 13, 2011 at 11:43 AM ·

Response to Scott Taylor


I have worked with Mr. Malkin on several occasions for weeks at a time and know many of his students quite well, so I can say with certainty that every bit of Scott Taylor's slanderous rant is completely untrue.

No student of Mr. Malkin's--in fact, no violinist who has ever worked with him or even seen him teach--could ever say that he works only on technical issues. Everything about his approach is based in and drawn from the music; in fact, he teaches technique as a means of realizing the intentions of the composer and ideas of the performer, rather than as something in and of itself or worse, as a vehicle for displaying one's own violinistic abilities at the expense of the music (an approach favored by more teachers than not). This school of thinking, that violin is about music rather than the opposite, is one endorsed by most serious musicians, from Hilary Hahn (link forthcoming) to Rostropovich (as he is quoted in his 2007 biography by his former student, Elizabeth Wilson). 

The claim that he keeps students playing the same repertoire for more time than Mr. Taylor approves of confuses me not in that it is untrue, but in that it is not a sign of a bad teacher. If anything, it would seem to indicate that he does not overwhelm students by throwing more assignments at them than they can handle, and/or that he holds his students to a higher standard than would Mr. Taylor. Perhaps this instilling of high standards is in their own best interests, as the pursuit of excellence can only help aspiring violinists in today's hyper-competitive classical music world. 

With regard to the preceding paragraph, it seems that I was overly hasty in declaring this entire post to be untrue--some parts are simply nonsensical, rather than outright lies. 

Speaking of lies, the claim that he is "very out for the money" disgusts and offends me as it should anyone who knows Isaac Malkin. One of my close friends is from a socioeconomic background that does not mesh well, one might say, with Mr. Malkin's going rate. His solution, as should have been the response of any good teacher (or even decent human being), was to offer her lessons at a reduced rate (in her case, slightly less than a third of his usual fee for lessons). Another acquaintance of mine did his undergraduate degree with Mr. Malkin at MSM and was given countless extra lessons with no thought of payment over his years of study. When I have gone to festivals with him and his students, he has always been more than willing to sacrifice his time and money to ensure that we were safe (a student's bag and wallet were stolen and he gave her enough money for the rest of the festival) and and to help us broaden our cultural horizons (a weekend trip to Amsterdam from Germany and various museum and other enriching excursions being made possible come to my mind). These cases in which money was made a non-issue are the ones that I am aware of; and based on my knowledge of his character, it would be foolish to hold suspect the existence of numerous others.

Mr. Taylor's assessment of Anat and Bracha's playing is again difficult to dispute due to it's subjectivity. I will say this, though: I have not heard of a single person familiar with their playing consider them as anything less than extraordinary, and while I have limited knowledge of Anat's background in competitions, I know that the judges of the Paganini and Wieniawski competitions were rather impressed with Bracha. Those who wish for further details as regards their playing should visit Bracha's website to listen to samples of her debut CD (link forthcoming). My guess is that Mr. Taylor's blasé attitude is not one that most people will adopt upon hearing her artistry (pretentious as that may sound, there is no other word for it). 

Mr. Kalinovsky and Ms. Kopec are both serious people, teachers, and musicians in their own right. I have heard many things about them, many positive and some negative, and am well-acquainted with the playing of their students. I prefer, however, not to pass on second or third-hand gossip that I have heard about them as I consider myself unqualified to judge teachers when I have not seen them teach, and consider the habit of spewing polemical, personal attacks on Internet forums generally distasteful and extremely ill-mannered. 

I, personally, would recommend Mr. Malkin to anyone interested in becoming an excellent violinist and an individual musician, with the one warning that doing so (under any teacher, Mr. Malkin being no exception) will take work and focus. It will, however, be worth the time and trouble.  

August 13, 2011 at 02:20 PM ·

August 13, 2011 at 03:54 PM ·

This is a curious thread.  A long time ago someone asked a question about a prominent teacher at a major music school.  At the time, there were several positive responses, and one virulently negative, directed not only at the professional qualifications of the subject but also at his integrity and his family, too--yet based entirely on hearsay rather than first-hand contact.  The negative post is framed in such nasty and offensive terms that it draws into question the bona fides of the author, whose stated credentials are nevertheless quite impressive. 

The thread lies dormant for seven years, and then out of nowhere two posts in defense of the subject appear, from individuals apparently with first-hand knowledge, and also with very respectable credentials.  I suppose I'll never know, but as someone who is completely out of the loop, I'm puzzled (and maybe a little intrigued) by what's going on beneath the surface.   

August 13, 2011 at 04:42 PM ·

August 13, 2011 at 07:10 PM ·

 I googled "Isaac Malkin violin" and this was one of the first things that came up (he doesn't have a website and he no longer plays). I was curious to see what people had to say, and, well my response could be construed as overenthusiastic, I believe that any student of Ms. Malkin-Almani or Mr. Malkin would have given a similar one.

So Hilary Hahn says that that was how she was trained, but acknowledges the legitimacy of other approaches.

Check out the biography and "In the Press" pages. Some readers may yet be convinced that Henry Roth, Josef Gingold, Sascha Sneider, The Strad Magazine, The New York Times, The New York Concert Review, The Jerusalem Post, and, of course, Isaac Stern (among many others) were so uncultured or underexposed to classical music as to have been overwhelmed by "average" playing, but these people are probably too busy with their jet-set supersoloist careers to have time to comment on this thread. Mr. Taylor, if you are still interested in this conversation, I encourage you to represent their views. If, however, you have found Brian, me, or any combination thereof persuasive enough to sway your opinion, an apology might save you some face, or even win a little respect from your fellow members.

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