Masterclass checklist

July 10, 2023, 1:30 AM · What is something you make sure to do before every masterclass?

Replies (11)

July 10, 2023, 1:54 AM · Depends. Are you watching or participating?
July 10, 2023, 4:59 AM · Relax.
You will be asked to make changes on the spot. So be prepared to be flexible. It is not like a concert in which you can learn to play a piece in your sleep, even if you are nervous.
July 10, 2023, 6:19 AM · I will be playing.
Edited: July 10, 2023, 7:23 AM · Make sure your hands are clean and dry.
Go to the bathroom!

Make sure your equipment is in good order:
Violin in tune, bridge straight, bow rosined and properly tightened, etc.

You may be "assigned" specific etudes/exercises for future improvement. Do not be embarrassed, you will be playing for a person who does "know it all."

If you are one of those people whose right arm has a tendency to shake in live solo performance, there is no need to fear playing in a masterclass - all those people can "see through you" because of their own experience and knowledge. You are not there to entertain or impress - just to learn.

July 10, 2023, 8:16 AM · Make sure you know the meaning of every term in the piece, and study it to make sure you know where and what the dynamic markings are. Also, know a little about the history of the piece and composer.
July 10, 2023, 11:51 AM · Watch as many masterclasses as possible on Youtube. You'll begin to recognize a pattern of what those masters are all about.

If I were taught by a master, I would hope they not work on intonation or timing or how to rosin the bow.

Edited: July 10, 2023, 12:54 PM · Master teachers often have a schtick that works into each presentation.

When I played some Beethoven for Joseph Silverstein (not too terribly well), he talked about making 4-bar phrases more obvious. For Brahms, he always loved speaking about rhythms and cross-rhythms. For Bach, there were a few tricks he would show with a baroque bow each time-- and a general admonition to think about dances.

I don't mean to sound cynical-- but be aware that the event is as much for the teacher to talk to the audience as it is to criticize your playing. Do your best, and remember that everyone else will also sound less good than they are.

Edited: July 10, 2023, 7:57 PM · @Jim I've seen plenty of master classes where the student was counseled on matters of intonation or timing. Often "expressive" intonation and the same with timing, but still, these are tools. A good example of someone who might include this kind of advice is Benjamin Zander or Maxim Vengerov.
Edited: July 10, 2023, 8:51 PM · Stephen, re: the schtick and cynicism and criticism, I remember fondly my daughter working a few times with a really fantastic but unknown soloist here who had some pretty incisive and negative comments about master classes. Was happy to hear someone actually calling BS on this. Working with the master 1-1 over a couple of weeks is when the real learning happens.
Edited: July 10, 2023, 10:48 PM · As much as it may be a pantomime of a lesson at times, it IS a performance opportunity, and then a student can also lard their bio with a new name.

I find them pretty interesting as an audience member, as much for the performance as for trying to follow the train of thought of the teacher and then seeing if it actually impacts the student in any way.

July 11, 2023, 7:10 PM · It is a collection of insights and instruction that can bear fruit in all sorts of ways. Not the same as a summer's worth of lessons, but it is over in a few hours.

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