week-long masterclass

July 28, 2019, 1:59 PM · Hello all!

In August, I will participate in a small, week-long masterclass recommended by my teacher. The course is to be led by my teacher's former teacher - hence her recommendation.

I am unfamiliar with the concept of such a course! We will meet Monday through Friday from 10am-6pm. It is, as far as I know, a small group of about 12 students. There isn't much specific info on the website regarding, for example, a sample day's schedule.

Is anyone familiar with this type of a course and able to give me an idea of what to expect? I like to mentally prepare myself for new experiences!

Thank you for your thoughts :)

Replies (8)

July 28, 2019, 2:22 PM · First you have to figure out if it really is a 'masterclass' or a summer course! Masterclasses usually have the same format of a student performing a (well studied) piece in front of an audience and then a pro critiquing it and using it as a teaching tool. I suppose the 'course' could be each student doing one masterclass (if so they would have asked for your piece so that a pianist could prepare).

A summer course (which is more likely) usually have a common, but varying that may include group and private lessons, working on chamber music and in an orchestra (or string ensemble). At the end of the week there is generally a performance of student material - at some all the students will perform at others (more common now I think) perfomances are 'selected'.

Can you not contact the course organizers directly at least for a 'typical day schedule'?

July 28, 2019, 2:37 PM · I would second the above suggestion. Masterclasses (generally) last a day, maybe even only an afternoon I believe. I have a friend who goes away on week long courses regualarly and have never heard him refer to one as a masterclass
July 28, 2019, 9:17 PM · There are a handful of teachers that do private summer courses where students typically live together in a house, cook and eat together, practice, and have lessons with that teacher that all participating students observe. I think Dylana Jensen's course is of that nature.

I'm curious who the teacher is in this case, as I don't think I've heard of any such things in Europe.

July 29, 2019, 3:59 AM · Thanks for the replies, everyone!

Yes, it IS a week-long course...that is entitled "Meisterkurs"...hence my confusion. :)

I can contact the organization that is running the course. I just thought, before I bothered them, I might find out whether it is a common format that I just was not familiar with. It does say that it will have the format of a typical masterclass...but there are 12 students, and I just can't imagine him teaching for 8 hours straight, 5 days in a row, in this format.

There is a recital at the end of the week for students.

Lydia, the teacher is Helge Slaatto.

July 29, 2019, 9:03 AM · That's interesting. I can readily imagine every-other-day lessons, which for a group of 12 would be 6 hours a day of teaching -- that's pretty manageable, I think. Breakfast, 3 hours of lessons, lunch, another 3 hours, brief break, dinner, 3 hours of practice. Or maybe more efficiently, breakfast, 2 hours of lessons, lunch plus two hours of practice, 2 hours of lessons, 2 hours of practice, dinner, 2 hours of lessons, some free time (or more practice).
July 30, 2019, 7:00 AM · ANOTHER question: (I am low-level anxious about this upcoming experience, and my teacher is currently away, so I can't ask her. :)

Is it normal/ok to play a piece that is not polished in a masterclass? Maybe even significantly under tempo? Or must it be "performance ready", ready for more intricate kinds of help?

Edited: July 30, 2019, 7:19 AM · Generally speaking the point of a masterclass is for the teacher to help you move the boundary of your best playing. If they don't hear your best playing, they can't do that. This is the same thing I tell graduate students about oral exams -- give your very best presentation because you want high-level criticism from your professors; you don't want them finding typos on your slides. Put another way, you don't need a "master" violin teacher to tell you your thirds are out of tune.
Edited: July 30, 2019, 8:03 AM · I participated in a 2-week violin masterclass in 1973. The master-teacher was Claire Hodgkins, who at the time was assistant to Heifetz at his USC masterclass (made famous by the the 1962 video, in which Hodgkins was one of the students). This master class was associated with the (then) annual Herbert Blomstedt conducting masterclass held at Loma Linda University, Redlands, CA (now La Sierra University) in early summer. It was recommended to me by one of my musical colleagues. The violinists were really there to play in the evening orchestra that served the conducting masterclass.

It was a marvelous experience. Ms. Hodgkins brought along all the young violinists who were then in Mr. Heifetz's USC masterclass and the class was peopled by these young virtuosos and then about an equal number of the rest of us.

Summer struck southern California with a vengeance that year and the temperature reached 107° in the afternoons when we were relegated to the uncooled practice rooms. I'm sure the dorm rooms were uncooled also, but I had driven there in my motor home and parked in a friend's driveway at night where I could plug in to his garage electricity and run my AC and do a bit of practicing after the orchestra rehearsal before sleeping comfortably. The masterclass and orchestra rooms were air conditioned, but I only took it for a day or two and drove the 100 miles to home in wee hours that second night - so I cannot report what one does most of the time in a 2-seek masterclass.

But even in that short bit of participation I received helpful guidance and some good etudes to aid my improvement and structure the next 5 years of my daily practice routine.

I have played under a few college-instructor conductors who came through one of the Blomstedt masterclasses, but playing under Blomstedt himself was an experience I shall never forget.


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