Advanced Violin Seminar

For ambitious violinists, this rigorous seminar aims to give students a thorough understanding of violin technique, a deep awareness of the professional world of violin playing, and greater ability in their own performance.

Technique, Context, Performance

In weekly, 2-hour masterclasses, violinist Joshua Peckins will guide advanced and intermediate violin students through a detailed curriculum of violin technique, focusing on building practical skills and deep technical knowledge. This seminar is inspired by the renowned post-graduate Technique Class taught by Prof. Frischenschlager at the Vienna University of Music. Through recordings, the seminar will also expose students to legendary violin masters of the past and present, with class discussion about violin technique in application and the multitude of artistic possibilities available to violinists. Finally, students will perform for each other in studio class format, applying their skills and learning to give and receive constructive feedback. The goal of the course is to help ambitious violin students develop an advanced technique, gain a broad awareness of the professional violin world and how their personal studies fit into that context, and hone technical and creative skills in performance.

“​Most powerful is one, who has oneself in one’s own power.”​ -Seneca

 

Intended Participants: The Advanced Violin Seminar will be taught as a college level course.  The ideal participant is analytically minded, curious about violin technique and playing, and motivated to radically improve his/her technique through an intensive study.  College students majoring/minoring in music, serious amateurs, professionals looking for a thorough review, as well as advanced high-school students are encouraged to apply.

Audition: Applicants must submit a brief video audition (unedited) including one or two movements of your choice (movements from concertos, etudes, sonatas, solo Bach, Paganini, etc. are all acceptable) and two 3-8ve scales.  Please see the prerequisites, below, for an idea of the technical level you will need to demonstrate.  Videos should be uploaded (with privacy settings of your choice enabled) to YouTube or Vimeo; please include the link with your application.

Prerequisites: Students must have a minimum technical level to benefit form this course.  A minimum level of Kreutzer 42 Studies, 3-8ve scales, and double stops is required, as well as approval of the student’s private teacher, if applicable.  This is not a “how to play for beginners” course – it is intended for students already at an advanced or upper-intermediate level, looking to refine and advance their skills.  Advanced high-school students may apply, but must be at least 14 years old.

Schedule/Location: Weekly, 2-hr sessions, for the 2019/20 academic year.  Exact time and location TBA.  There may be two, separate sessions offered: College/adult session tentatively scheduled for Mondays, 4-6pm, in Harvard Square.  High-school session pending approval from New England Conservatory Prep School for Saturdays, time TBD.

Tuition:  Tuition is TBA.

More Info/Contact: Please email your questions to joshua@joshuapeckins.com for more information.

How to Apply:  Please upload your video audition (see above for details), and email the link to joshua@joshuapeckins.com.  In your email, please also include a brief description of your background as a violinist (years studied, teachers, recent repertoire, ensembles, awards/competitions, festivals, degrees, etc.) and your goals (what do you hope to accomplish with this seminar?  What are your goals as a violinist?)  Please also include your age and current school/degree, if applicable.  If you are currently studying with a private teacher, please indicate that you have permission from your teacher to apply for this seminar.  Applications will be accepted until all spaces are filled.

 

Details of Course

 

The course has three components:

  1. A thorough survey of practical violin technique based on the pedagogical works of Galamian, Flesch, Frischenschlager, Yankelevich, and others. Students will learn exercises and practice methods to overcome common technical problems, and will learn to conceive of technique as a skill set that can be systematically trained as a means to achieve artistic freedom. This will be taught following a detailed curriculum of Mr. Peckins’ design, including all bow strokes, double stops, vibrato, glissandi, sound production, posture, as well as virtuoso skills such as chords, harmonics, ricochet, left hand pizzicato, etc.  Students will also develop skills for self-assessment and further, independent study of technique.
  2. Exposure to recordings of master violinists of the past and present, including legendary figures such as Heifetz, Neveau, Hahn, and Oistrakh, as well as contemporary competition contestants/winners, festivals, and ensembles. Specific recordings will coincide with techniques currently being taught in class.  Class discussion will focus on how the techniques are demonstrated by the masters, as well as the professional/artistic possibilities available to violinists. Students will gain a wider perspective of violin playing in the professional world, and will learn to see their personal work in a larger context.
  3. Student performances, with feedback from the class. Students will perform solo repertoire of their choice (with instructor approval), and will receive feedback in a studio class format. Students will gain valuable experience applying the skills taught in this seminar to their own performance, and will learn to give constructive, supportive feedback.

 

Rationale:

This seminar offers violin students a forum to learn a thorough, cohesive concept of violin technique, and to explore the richness of their field. This seminar does NOT seek to replace the vital guidance of one-on-one training that occurs in private lessons, but rather to present a detailed survey of violin technique and master violinists. Though still a practical course at its heart, this quasi-pedagogical approach lends itself best to a seminar format, and will give students the broad knowledge base that is necessary for long-term and independent learning. Extended listening sessions, group discussion, and in-class performance, furthermore, are not practical in private lessons.

 

Joshua Peckins’ Beliefs and Assumptions:

I believe strongly in the necessity of a systematic, thorough approach to training violin technique. Students must u​nderstand ​(with analytical study) and ​train​ (with diligent practice of exercises) every aspect of violin technique, learning each one independently and as part of a cohesive whole. Many students, even at advanced college levels, lack fundamental understanding of vital concepts, such as the clear differences between specific bow strokes, types of glissandi, and even a natural way to position and move the hands. These are but a few examples, but the problem is all too present, and leads to much frustration among violinists!

Furthermore, I am a strong believer in late bloomers, who often are talented and motivated, but simply lacked rigorous technical training when younger. Students in this category can radically change their career trajectories by making a rigorous study of violin technique, even in their later years. It should be the mission of all teachers and music schools to help these students achieve this radical change, rather than (immorally and often falsely) to discriminate between prodigies and also-rans.

It is easy for successful musicians to take for granted the backdrop of information that informs and motivates their individual pursuits. By this “backdrop of information,” I mean knowledge of the great musicians, the great orchestras and chamber ensembles, the important international competitions and festivals, legendary recordings and performances, the vast Classical repertoire, etc. A shocking number of students today cannot recognize the vibrato of Heifetz, the glissandi of Kreisler, the tone of Elman, let alone name the current rising stars on the concert stages of the world. Through exposure to this larger world, presented with context and class discussion, I believe students can gain an invaluable awareness that will inspire and guide their personal violin studies and dreams.

This course is inspired by the Technique Class taught by Professor Michael Frischenschlager at the Vienna University of Music, which I had the great fortune to take for several years as a postgraduate student. There are other long-standing traditions of seminar-format violin classes, where students of talent and ambition come together to pursue great violin playing. While this course cannot hope (and certainly does not propose!) to live up to achievements of the legendary violin classes taught by Frischenschlager, Heifetz, and others, it draws inspiration from them and attempts to follow in their footsteps.

I have taught variations on this seminar on numerous occasions, both as dedicated sectional coach for New England Conservatory’s top youth orchestra, YPO, and as violin coach for NEC’s Festival Youth orchestra.  Students have always received it with interest, even with hunger for the information, which I believe demonstrates a profound need for such a course.  My private students have attended monthly studio classes for the past six years, which include technical study, performance/feedback, and discussions about great musicians. These experiences have convinced me of the value, as well as the practicality, of this seminar.

(C) 2019 Joshua Peckins. All rights reserved.