Itzhak Perlman Masterclass Review

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Regardless of what type of violin player you are, you will learn a lot from Itzhak Perlman’s violin masterclass. He is a wonderful teacher with the playing experience to back up what he teaches.

Itzhak Perlman's Masterclass Review

Itzhak Perlman’s amazing career

Before I tell you more about Itzhak Perlman’s masterclass, I need to say a little something about this accomplished musician’s life and career.

Like most of the best violinists in the world, Itzhak started to play at a very young age. Famously, at the age of three, he was denied admission to the Shulamit Conservatory, but only because he was too small to hold his violin properly. Even then, his talent was not in doubt.

That did not stop him. His family bought him a toy fiddle and he taught himself how to play. Despite contracting polio at the age of four, he continued to play and grew into an accomplished player.

At the age of only 18, he made his debut at Carnegie Hall. A year later, he won the Leventritt Competition. From there he went on to enjoy a career as an accomplished violin player. Famously, he played at the White House. But, has also appeared on Sesame Street and collaborated with musicians from many different genres of music. He has also won 15 Grammys and 4 Emmy Awards.

Itzhak bow techniques

Itzhak Perlman’s approach to teaching the violin

Itzhak’s ‘can do’ attitude and unpretentious approach shines through in his course. His decades of experience as a violin teacher and passion for his instrument make this a really special course.

It does not matter whether you have been playing for years, or have only just started, this remarkable violin masterclass is for you. Itzhak speaks to all kinds of violin players.

In fact, even if you have no plans to learn to play, I would still encourage you to take this course. It gives you a chance to get inside the mind of a musical genius and an insight into the world of classical music. Whether you are a fan of violin music or not, trust me, you will still enjoy this course. Itzhak’s warmth and humor guarantee that you will have fun as well as learn a lot about the life musician’s lead.

Basic and advanced bow techniques

Itzhak starts the course by discussing and demonstrating various bow techniques. As a child, he was taught the Russian and Franco-Belgian grips and can use both, so can you if you follow the advice he shares.

Producing the right sounds when playing the violin

Anyone who has tried to play the violin or heard someone else doing so after just a lesson or two will know that it is all too easy to make this instrument sound horrible. Even if your finger work is spot on, placing too much or too little pressure on the bow or strings produces terrible results.

So, it is good to see Itzhak go through how each part of the violin generates sounds. Learning this will enable you to recognize what you may be doing wrong and how to correct any issues.

Violin Intonation

Intonation – learning to play the violin “on pitch”

In this lesson you will learn the following:

  • How to tune your violin
  • Becoming a good listener
  • Adjusting the tuning with your fingers as you play
  • Vibrato – creating rich and warm tones while playing

Developing the motion of vibrato is a challenge for many violin players. But, it is a skill you have to master if you want to add warmth and richness to your music. In his masterclass Itzhak teaches and demonstrates the following vibrato techniques:

  • Arm vibrato
  • Hand vibrato
  • Finger vibrato

He then shows you how to create even more variation using speed and width. Itzhak briefly covers slow, fast, narrow and width vibrato playing techniques.

This ties in nicely with his video on color on tone, which covers bow direction, pressure and speed in more detail. As well as shifting and glissandi.

My advice would be to skip forward one video so that you watch the vibrato and color and tone videos one after the other. You can easily go back to the posture and comfort lesson once you have done that.

If you are a player, take the time to do the exercise he shares and watch every one of Itzhak’s students playing his recommended piece. While taking other courses, I have found that doing this makes a huge difference to how much of each class goes in and becomes part of your knowledge base.

Practice strategies for violin students

Violin Practice Schedule

Itzhak recommends that students practice their violin playing for at least 3 hours a day. To help them to do this effectively he breaks down a full practice session step-by-step.
First, he outlines what should be covered during each of the 3 practice stages he recommends. Then, in the workbook, he provides links to learning materials you can use to accomplish each stage.

This is an excellent resource and one area of the course my nephew, who is learning the violin, kept coming back to. If you are taking physical lessons I am sure you will be able to speak to your teacher about which of these resources would be most suitable for you to use.

As well as how, when and what to practice, Itzhak shares several learning techniques. Ways to get the most out of each lesson and practice session.

How to break bad playing habits

This was a very interesting section of the course. It is all too easy to develop bad playing habits. Once you do, breaking them is very difficult. This is a section of the course that should prove beneficial regardless of how experienced and accomplished a player you are.

When correcting mistakes, repeat the correct version more times than you played the wrong version.

Itzhak Perlman – Masterclass.com How to Play the Violin

How to form and maintain the right playing habits

Naturally, the best approach is not to allow bad habits to develop in the first place. Itzhak clearly explains the steps you need to take to do this. He teaches the following:

  • How to assume and maintain the correct posture while playing the violin
  • The art of playing a piece slowly while you learn it
  • How to ensure you always play in tune
  • How to become confident in your movements
  • How to use a metronome when learning violin music
  • Learning and applying the practice in rhythms method

How to read violin music by sight and memorize it

Being able to read your music by sight is a very useful many would say essential skill for a violinist. Reading a piece by sight enables you to learn it much faster and get the flow right at a far earlier stage in the learning cycle. Itzhak explains how to hone your sight-reading skills and do so in a fun and effective way.

Later, in the course, he discusses how to take things to the next level and train yourself to memorize music. His technique will enable you to learn even long and complex pieces without any issues.

How to become a professional violinist

This part of the course was relatively short. But, I thought Itzhak did a particularly good job of explaining things. He quickly outlines the realities of being a professional musician then goes through strategies you can use to build the necessary skills.

Importantly, he makes it clear that you need to put yourself out there and become an active member of whatever musical communities you have access to. I was particularly fascinated by his explanation of how he set up The Perlman Music Program (PMP).

How to perform violin music flawlessly

If you want to play professionally, you will need to overcome your performance nerves. You also have to become well-rounded as a musician and learn to work collaboratively. It is not enough to just be a good player. In the course, Itzhak shares the tips and tricks he uses for his performances.

“When performing, trust your muscle memory. Don’t overthink.”

Itzhak Perlman Violin Playing Masterclass

Pushing yourself and overcoming barriers

Anyone who wants to be a professional musician needs to be determined and tenacious. Everyone has things to cope with that can hold them back. At an early age, Itzhak became physically disabled. A disability that necessitated a radical change in the way he played. So, you can bet that the advice he shares on this subject is effective.

How to pick the right violin for you

Choosing the right violin is important. This is the case whether you are a beginner or already an accomplished player. Itzhak explains how he got his instruments. But, is realistic about the fact that most people will not be able to afford to buy the one they really want. So, in the workbook, he clearly explains how to buy a cheaper one that will still sound good.

Whenever you buy a violin, make sure that if you sell it, you can at least get your money back.

Itzhak Perlman’s violin masterclass course

Itzhak Perlman’s how to play violin masterclass workbook

One of the things I appreciate about masterclass.com’s classes is the inclusion of a comprehensive workbook for each course. To date, I have taken 25 of masterclass.com’s courses, using my all-access masterclass pass which only cost me $180. Everything from cooking with Gordon Ramsay to directing with Spike Lee and David Lynch and I’ve made extensive use of the workbook each time. They are generally excellent.

This certainly applies to Itzhak Perlman’s workbook. He refers to it as “an encyclopedia of instrumental information”, and he is not kidding. It is comprehensive. It includes a diagram of a violin, Itzhak’s recommended listening list, online and offline lesson resources, case studies and much more besides. This workbook would be a great reference source for any student of the violin, even without the 18 excellent videos. So, when you take Itzhak Perlman’s violin masterclass course, I urge you to make good use of the workbook.

Words of wisdom from other students of the violin

Itzhak has no problem with sharing the limelight with others. As a result, you get to learn from other players as well as him. This approach is fantastic because it means that you are learning from people who have recently struggled with, and overcome, the same things you are.

Who is Itzhak Perlman’s violin masterclass for?

If you are a violin geek or know one, definitely take this course. You will love it and want to watch it again and again.

In fact, pretty much anyone who likes classical music will also enjoy this course. It would make a great present for someone like that.

For students of the violin, this is an especially good course. Given the fact that you can easily pay $60 for just one lesson, it represents pretty good value for money. My nephew, who has been playing for nearly 3 years, really enjoyed the course. He had obviously found it to be inspiring. So, I think most violinists will benefit from taking this course.

Direct advice from Itzhak Perlman himself

How often do you get the chance to ask someone like Itzhak Perlman a question and get a direct answer? That is exactly what the office hours feature of masterclass.com offers you the chance to do. You can read more about this unique feature and why the all-access pass represents amazing value for money by clicking here.

So, in conclusion, this is yet another fantastic masterclass.com music course.

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