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Arts & Entertainment


Itzhak Perlman

Lesson time 18:29 min

Perfect your intonation by training your ear to recognize sharp or flat notes. Mr. Perlman shares techniques for staying in tune and for tuning with other musicians.

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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ITZHAK PERLMAN: If I can have A. [PIANO NOTE] [VIOLIN MUSIC] [PIANO NOTE] [VIOLIN MUSIC] When you practice, you've got to really listen very, very carefully as to what goes on. So whether it's vibrato, whether it's the quality of sound, and whether it is most importantly intonation. Intonation is so-- you can get hypnotized with intonation by hearing something that is only slightly out of tune and being able to live with it. And I always say, you've got to be obsessed by absolutely playing everything dead in tune. [VIOLIN MUSIC] When you practice, 15%-- I don't know why I arrived at 15%. It could be 17 or 20. But 15% of your brain should be dedicated to watching and listening to the intonation, because, like I said before, intonation has a way of hypnotizing the listener into hearing something that's almost there. But we want to get rid of the almost. We want the intonation to be dead on. So always listening to the intonation, regardless of the difficulty of the music, because sometimes when the music is difficult for whatever reason, whether it's for phrasing or for technique, we tend to concentrate on those aspects. But the intonation should always be in the back burner. It should always be there so that if you're practicing something-- if you're doing-- [VIOLIN MUSIC] So we wind up practicing for color. I play a practice-- okay-- great-- practice for color but make sure that it's in tune. So make sure that your brain is always the guard of the intonation. So my suggestion is to really concentrate on that. And what you want to do is that when you have something that's very difficult, make sure that you play it in little segments. Play two bars or three bars. You'll have to play more. And those two, three bars should have-- you should be able to make sure that everything on those three bars is correct-- intonation, phrasing, articulation, and so on. I'm saying to reduce it to small in increments, not just by going a whole page but by saying, I'll play three or four bars. And let's see if I can make all those three, four bars beautifully in tune, articulated, and musical. So if you do it in smaller increments, I think it's better. [PIANO NOTE] [VIOLIN MUSIC] Again. [PIANO NOTE] [VIOLIN MUSIC] There are several things we can talk about intonation. But what I first would like to do is to discuss intonation when you play with another instrument. So we should demonstrate. So June who's going to play the piano, please come on in. And what we always start is asking for an A from the piano just to make sure that we are in tune. So if I can have an A. [PIANO NOTE] [VIOLIN MUSIC] Can I have another? [PIANO NOTE] [VIOLIN MUSIC] All right, so I asked for another A. It's really very, very important to make sure that when the pianist gives you an A that you take that A at face value that it's a real A. It's not like, sort of A. Let me show y...

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.

Itzhak Perlman is a gift to the world. I am a seasoned semi-pro, and his lessons reminded me of so many things I have forgotten over a lifetime of playing. What a lovely human being and amazing teacher and musician

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.

As a pianist I loved hearing how consistent musicianship is, regardless of the instrument. So many of the same principles apply. Itzak does a superb job of teaching all types of audiences! Thank you so much for a wonderful class!

I learned so much from Itzhak he is a phenomenal teacher. However, I would have liked him to give more info on how to have a career in music :/


A fellow student

Some good things, but I don't think he is correct about singers feeling intonation 'in their throat' - that is certainly not the bel canto school of thought.

April A.

The lesson was very good he gave great advice I am falling in love with his class .

A fellow student

As an intermediate player I find the advice very valuable. I assume at this level about the only way to be sure you play perfectly in tune is to alway play with a tuner an monitor how you do !

Peter M.

Also scales - the basics of technique - I'd better get with the program. Thanks for all the great recommendations in the workbook.

Peter M.

I liked the advice to stop and get it right rather than correcting it. Don't treat the symptom, cure the disease.

Zhiwei D.

Mr. P - Do you practise more intonation 50% as you get closer to your performance day?

Chung F.

I've always been too scared I'll snap something if I try and tune my violin's pegs (they seem so stiff). Any tips on learning to tune w pegs instead of always using the fine tuners?

Janet C.

If you don’t have a piano to tune to, there is a nice app called SIMPLY TUNER that works really well. I still tune with my instructor when we meet, but it helps me during the week.


One of the best guidelines I have heard about pretty much anything - such a simple idea - don't just think "out of tune" , but think sharp or flat. I love it that its's so obvious ... once you hear Mr P say it :)

Gil M.

Two bars at a time. By parts. That's great! Scales, scales, scales!! Got it!