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Get Your Groove Back: Take a Masterclass

It’s easy for anyone to get into a rut. When you’re a music student, you work with the same group of peers and teachers for several years. Working with those who know you and your quirks so well is a great support foundation for your growth as an artist. Yet it’s also good to shake things up. That’s where taking a masterclass comes in.

If you need to get your groove back or want to take your groove to a new level, the benefits of attending or participating in a masterclass may be just the thing. 

Benefits of attending a masterclass 

Sometimes you may not get accepted to a masterclass you want to attend. That’s rough, but it doesn’t mean you can’t still learn from a masterclass as an audience member. In fact, research into the master’s perspective of teaching masterclass reveals that many of them specifically guide the class to ensure that the observers gain as much as the performers. 

Everyone watching can draw inspiration from the master’s shared thoughts and insights on how to interpret the music, as well as the technical tips and guidance given. Watching the feedback loop of performance, criticism, and correction helps audience members learn new strategies for addressing their own challenges. 

You can even find some classic masterclasses with world-renown masters to watch on YouTube, such as these classes with Pinchas Zuckerman and Frank Huang, concertmaster of the New York Philmarmonic. 

Benefits if you’re a participant 

Of course, if you have a chance to be a participant, the experience can have profound impact on your development, as well as give you exposure to a broader group of musical professionals. Other benefits include: 

  • Growing your confidence as a performer. Playing before an audience can be stressful enough. Performing and getting critiqued by a master in front of that audience is something else entirely. When you go through it and find it a positive learning experience, you will feel like you can handle any sort of performance! 
  • The opportunity for personal, direct feedback from an established expert performer who plays the same instrument as you not only offers new perspectives, but validates your self-perception as a serious musician as well. Grasping that truth can be an incredible source of inspiration and motivation. 

Speaking of new perspectives… 

It can be difficult for a familiar teacher to bring new perspective to critique your technique or interpretations without being weighed down by expectations based on your history. A new teacher, with their own observations and intuitions, can provide new ideas on how you might approach your practice or a particular work. 

For the same reason, you may find it hard to “hear” what a familiar teacher is saying. Having someone else point out a technical flaw or other criticism may be the discordant note you need to really hear it. Students also often find that the master’s ability to put their advice and feedback in context of their own performances and changes they’ve made, help explain the “why” behind their suggestion. Understanding the context and relevance of a suggested change help the students internalize it into their own playing. 

Students also benefit in expanding their own perspective and problem-solving capabilities by observing the feedback loop between the master and other students. First, it helps to see that everyone has areas that can be improved. Watching how your peers work to improve a specific challenge under the master’s tutelage helps you improve your own deliberation process. 

Lastly, the entire masterclass process gives you more insight into the professional standards and criteria you’ll need to meet to reach your goals of being a professional musician. It helps you define milestone goals and understand where you need to get to grow into a professional level musician. 

Where to find a masterclass 

Most music schools, at all levels, offer them when they can. A Google search will uncover any number of opportunities for students of all different ages, even as young as grade school. It’s not unusual that it’s free to attend these masterclasses. Many music festivals offer special student volunteer opportunities that include having masterclasses with some of the musicians performing in the festival. 

If you need to change things up and get out of your rut – find yourself a masterclass! Whether a participant or audience member, you’ll grow from the experience.

finding the right violin