Steps to Mastery: The Masterclass

Posted by
Erin Nichols
Date
 November 1, 2016
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Have you ever participated in a masterclass before? Or does the idea leave you trembling in your boots? The idea can certainly be intimidating, particularly if you have never seen a well-executed masterclass yourself. They can be incredibly powerful, though, and both performer and audience usually walk away with an immense amount of new knowledge.

A master class is a concentrated public coaching for the musicians who participate. That is the intimidating part to most people–it’s one thing to receive constructive criticism behind closed doors in a private lesson, but quite another in front of an audience! You’ll definitely benefit from playing in master classes if you’re the kind of person who performs well under pressure. Because each turn is much shorter than an actual lesson or coaching and because the master must explain everything to an audience that may know little about their instrument, they’ll focus on only one or two very specific aspects of each performance. That way, everyone learns: the performer receives a valuable nugget of information that they can later apply to the rest of their repertoire, and the audience experiences how the master’s advice improved their performance.

There’s incredible leverage and support created by the situation. Not only are you face to face with a prominent expert, but there’s a whole audience rooting for you to succeed. So if you can handle it, a master class creates conditions where breakthroughs are likely to happen, and when they do it’s exciting for everyone – the singer, the audience, and of course the teacher.

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