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Arts & Entertainment

Bonus Chapter: Acquiring a Fine Instrument

Itzhak Perlman

Lesson time 8:42 min

Mr. Perlman introduces you to his famed violin, the 1714 Soil Stradivarius, and explains how to select the right instrument for yourself.

Itzhak Perlman
Teaches Violin
In his first-ever online class, virtuoso violin player Itzhak Perlman breaks down his techniques for improved practice and powerful performances.
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[CLASSICAL MUSIC PLAYING] SUBJECT: When I started to play, I remember that, uh, I actually was able to purchase, uh, a fine, uh, Italian violin. It was a, uh, Peter Guarneri. The gentleman who sold it to me actually let me pay it in installments. We were talking about $2,000, $3,000 for a fine, beautiful, uh, gorgeous, Italian instrument. Right now, for $3,000, maybe you can buy the peg, I-- I mean the tail piece, or the chin piece, or whatever it is. It's--it's-- it's ludicrous. Right now, these days are over. So unless you are, um, uh, loaned an instrument by a foundation, or a school, and so on and so forth, uh, the, um, the possibility of playing on a fine, Italian instrument is-- is-- is very, very difficult. And so a lot of the-- a lot of the musicians-- they play sometimes on very fine, contemporary instruments. Uh, you're talking about, I don't know, $40,000, $50,000 already. So-- so for-- if-- if you're trying to-- to really get a very fine, Italian instrument, for get it. I mean, we're not even talking about Strad. We're talking about good Italian but not on that level. You're talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars. But if you want to-- if you want to get something, uh-- uh, Italian, then, uh, it's either-- it's either, uh-- uh, a foundation or an organization that loans violin. And of course, the danger of loaning a fine instrument to somebody is that, after a while, they have to return it. And then what do you do? I remember-- I remember very interestingly I--I played on a violin-- on a-- it was a, uh, Andrea Guarneri that I thought sounded pretty good. And, uh-- and I had a couple of people play it. And they said, how can you play on this? It's not so good. But on me it sounded good. So a lot of it has to do with the individual, what you feel like having. So if you take a violin, and you make a few sounds on it, and you are happy with it, it's for you. The question basically is, can you afford it? And, uh-- and, uh-- And that's it. Also, I always tell the students who look into new violins, wherever you buy the violin-- and I think that's a good advice to anybody-- make sure that you know that if you want to sell it, you'll at please least get your money back. In other words, you don't want to buy a violin that cost you X number of dollars. And then, when it comes time to sell it, uh, they say, oh, it's not worth that much. So you want to make sure that if it's a-- let's say if it's a violin that has papers as to what it is, and so on and so forth, you want to make sure that those papers are correct. And you want to make sure that-- that if you spend-- uh, if you spend $100 I'm just doing it as a-- like an example. If you spend $100, you get back your $100. You don't get to spend $100 and get back $50. So now we're talking about a lot more money. You're talking about $50,000 on a-- on a brand new-- on a-- on a contemporary violin. You want to-- you want to make sure that you...

Play with passion

The world’s reigning virtuoso violin player, Itzhak Perlman performs for presidents, royals, and classical music lovers around the world. Now the beloved Juilliard instructor and 15-time Grammy Award winner brings his passion for teaching to a wide audience for the first time. Learn fundamental techniques, practice strategies, and how to add richness and depth to your sound. Give your most dynamic performance yet.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

This class was worth the entire subscription cost!!!!!

I loved the class and deeply admired Mr. Perlman's sense of humor. I am so grateful to have got the chance to watch this masterclass.

please! invite more soloist come to this party!

it has inspired me to practice more effectively and musically. I also know better, what it takes to become a great artist, and how to deal with some of my barriers.


Alexander S.

There are wonderful modern violin makers out there who make instruments that sound as good as the old Italian violins. There are plenty of double-blind studies that confirm this. I had the honor of playing the ex-Wieniawski Guarneri del Gesu at Bein & Fushi in Chicago in 1997. That fiddle is worth millions. Yet my Dereck Coons violin, a copy of the 1730 ex-Kreisler Guarner del Gesu, sounds just as good and at a tiny fraction of the price of the ex-Wieniawski del Gesu!


Thank you Mr P. After 30 years in the profession you've managed to give me some new inspiration and ideas for both my own playing and my teaching. I wish I could meet you in person. If I could I would tell you that learning the violin doesn't necessarily have to be all about being the best, and becoming an elite soloist. Learning basic skills on stringed instruments in a large group can be hugely enjoyable and beneficial for children with learning and behavioural difficulties attending schools in deprived areas, and projects like this are proliferating all around the world. A career teaching in this environment is hugely challenging for a musician, but extremely rewarding, and I am always glad to welcome new graduates of conservatoires who come to our music school to help with the kids. I hope you'll remind your students that a career spent in this way would be a distinguished and honourable use of the wonderful education they have received from you.


Wonderful... As a Guitar player I knew I could learn from this Master. I was not disappointed ... each topic adds value of expression, technique, and insights... I am able to gather some nuggets of truth and insight into how to better express myself in music. Music is to me... a life long learning process of joy and expression. Even the struggles we have is part of the joy of learning and expression. I plan on watching and listening many times to this course and others I have chosen with the hopes of picking up more each time. I usually have my Guitar in hand and practice scales and little tunes that come from my heart as I listen to these Masters of the art. Blessings... and Thank you for making these classes available .

Kenneth S.

A fabulous class!! A zillion thank-you's Itzhak!! I admire your style and delivery of speaking, and especially your tone, it's filled with character and levity and wisdom that resonates with me. Very enlightening!

Joel Kirk R.

What do I look for in a STARTER violins... not a STRAD that was made in 1714!!