This unique 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
Weekly, 2-hour masterclasses with violinist Joshua Peckins in the heart of Harvard Square.
Inspired by the renowned post-graduate Technique Class taught in Vienna, and never before offered in Boston, this seminar will guide advanced and intermediate students through a detailed curriculum of violin technique, focusing on building practical skills and deep technical knowledge. Through recordings, the seminar will also expose students to legendary violin masters of the past and present, as well as competitions, festivals, and ensembles, 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 masterclass format, honing their performance skills and receiving feedback from other students and Mr. Peckins.
- Weekly, 2-hour masterclasses in the heart of Harvard Square
- Study an effective, concept-based syllabus of the complete classical violin technique
- Discover legendary violinists, festivals, and competitions through recordings and class discussions
- Perform and build concert experience, with feedback from students and Mr. Peckins
- Inspired by the renowned post-graduate Technique Class taught at the Vienna University of Music, and never before offered in Boston
This seminar offers students a rare chance to study the teachings of master violin pedagogues in an organized, practical curriculum to help them advance their technique and deepen their concept of violin playing. Put into context with legendary recordings, class discussion, and student performances, the goal of this unique 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
Details of Seminar
The seminar has three components:
1. Rigorous Technique Training
A systematic, thorough study of practical violin technique based on the pedagogical works of Galamian, Flesch, Frischenschlager, Yankelevich, and others. This is the core of the Seminar, and is ideal for motivated students currently frustrated by a lack of knowledge or confusion over the specific mechanics and physical/mental techniques of virtuoso playing. 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 freedom of movement, 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. Musical Context
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. Performance Experience
Students will perform solo repertoire in masterclass format, and will receive feedback from the class and Mr. Peckins. Students will gain valuable experience applying the skills taught in this seminar to their own performance, and will learn to give constructive, supportive feedback.
“When I think of myself in those years, it seems to me that I was playing quite freely and fluently, tonally pure. But there is still have many years of hard work over the sound, rhythm and dynamics. Of course, most importantly, a deep comprehension of the inner content.” – David Oistrakh
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.
Violinist Joshua Peckins has taught for over a decade in Vienna and Boston, and is on the faculty of the New England Conservatory Prep School. Currently among the most active recitalists in New England, and with advanced degrees in Violin Performance from Yale, New England Conservatory, and the Vienna University of Music, he has performed from Carnegie Hall to Beijing’s Performing Arts Center and is both a dedicated performer and teacher. Click here for a full performance bio or click here for a full teaching bio.
Click here to listen to live performance recordings by Mr. Peckins.
Joshua Peckins’ Beliefs and Seminar Philosophy:
“I believe strongly in the necessity of a systematic, thorough approach to training violin technique. Students must understand (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.
“Common technical frustrations, such as tension in the vibrato, a weak fourth finger, lack of control in off-the-string bow strokes, lack of core sound in upper registers, etc., usually are caused by specific, objective mistakes in the technique. The solution in this case is not just ‘more practice,’ but rather a clear understanding of the correct physical mechanism and mental approach. These things can be explained and taught, and there are time-tested exercises used by top violinists to train these specific skills. Unfortunately, many students have never been exposed to this level of clarity, focus, and organization, and therefore waste countless hours of effortful, but confused, practice. Worse yet, they may never achieve their full potential, which would require just as many hours of effortful practice, but with a clear understanding of what to train and how to train it.
“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, not only in private lessons for individual students, but also 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 many 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.” – Joshua Peckins, violinist and Seminar instructor
“The violinist is that peculiarly human phenomenon distilled to a rare potency – half tiger, half poet.” – Yehudi Menuhin
Intended Participants: The ideal participant is analytically minded, curious about violin technique and playing, and motivated to radically improve his/her technique through intensive study. College students, advanced high-school students, dedicated amateurs, as well as professionals looking for a thorough review are encouraged to apply. Teachers looking for a comprehensive survey of violin technique may also be interested.
Audition: Your audition is an important part of your application, as it ensures everyone in the seminar will have the necessary level to benefit from the course. The audition repertoire is free choice, meaning you may present any repertoire that best demonstrates your current ability. Please see the prerequisites, below, for an idea of the technical level required for the seminar. Please include one or two selections of your choice (movements from concertos, etudes, sonatas, solo Bach, Paganini, etc. are all acceptable). Piano accompaniment is not required.
Video audition is the preferred format: please upload a brief video audition (unedited, from last 12 months, and with privacy settings of your choice enabled) to YouTube or Vimeo, and include the link with your application. You can also email the video file directly to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you prefer to audition live, please contact email@example.com to arrange an audition time, pending availability.
Prerequisites: Students must have a minimum technical level to benefit form this course. 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. If you are comfortable playing double-stops, 3-octave scales, and have studied Kreutzer’s 42 Studies (or equivalent), then you probably have the minimum necessary level. Advanced high-school students may apply, but must be at least 14 years old. Feel free to contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions about whether this Seminar would be appropriate for you.
Location: Classes will take place in the McKenzie Library of the First Church in Cambridge, located in the heart of Harvard Square, at 11 Garden St, Cambridge, MA. This location is easily accessible by public transportation, and there is also street parking available. The First Church is frequently used by local conservatories and professional music groups for classes, rehearsals, and concerts. The McKenzie Library is wheelchair accessible.
Schedule: Mondays, 4-6pm, 9/30/19 through 5/11/20, excluding vacations. Click here to view the full class schedule.
Application Deadline: Applications will be accepted on a rolling deadline until all spaces are filled. Early application is encouraged to avoid all spaces being filled. After the seminar begins, late applications may be accepted, pending availability and instructor approval. Please email to inquire about joining the class mid-year.
Tuition: Tuition is $800 per semester. There is no application/audition fee. If you are admitted to the Seminar, a $150 deposit is due at the time of registration to hold your place in the Seminar. The reminder of the first semester tuition ($650) is due by the first class, 9/30/19. Second semester tuition is due by 2/24/20.
More Info/Contact: Please email your questions to email@example.com for more information.
How to Apply: Click here to apply online. You will also need to submit an audition (see above for requirements). You can upload your video to YouTube or Vimeo and submit the link, email the file directly to firstname.lastname@example.org, or request a live audition. If you would like to request a live audition please contact email@example.com to request an audition time, pending availability. Applications will be accepted until all spaces are filled.
Questions? We welcome your questions! Please feel free to get in touch to discuss whether this Seminar makes sense for you, or to learn more about the class and the instructor. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
(C) 2019 Joshua Peckins. All rights reserved.