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Arts & Entertainment

The Color Game

Itzhak Perlman

Lesson time 16:40 min

Mr. Perlman invites his current and former Juilliard students to a game that explores how to change an audience's perception of a phrase or piece by using musical color and other playing techniques.

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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[VIOLIN PLAYING] - Think of yourself as a painter with a palette full of paints. You have beautiful paints. And then you take one brush and one paint and you paint a picture. So let's assume that you're a pretty good painter. So wouldn't you like to actually take a different brush and try a different color? Well, they are all at your disposal on the instrument. All you have to do is to apply some of the techniques. I mean, if you're going to play with a bit more bow, you'll have one sound. If you play with a bit less bow and you vary the bow pressure, you'll have a different sound. If you play a little bit closer to the bridge, you'll have one sound. If you play further from the bridge, you have a different sound. Sometimes I give classes where I make the kids play certain things in different ways, like play the same phrase and play it like it's, shall we say, very intense, or play it when it's very laid-back, or play it when it's very elegant, or play it when it's absolutely brilliant and very, very, shall we say, romantic, and so on. All of that stuff, obviously, is involved with what you're doing technically on the violin. [VIOLIN TUNINGS] So we're going to do this game where we're going to play something and we're going to have a choice. And I'm going to read you the choices, with passion, relaxed and laid-back, not caring, and intense. OK? So what do you have? - Poéme. - Poéme. OK, so I'll tell you what I want you to do. - OK. If you want to warm up or A, or whatever it is. [VIOLIN WARM UP] [VIOLIN PLAYING] OK, that's fine. You're so stingy. Anyway, OK, so that's it. So stingy. So stingy. OK, so what do you think she was going for? Anybody? What do you think? - I think intense. - Intense? - Intense. - Intense? - Passionate. - Passionate? - Intense. - Intense? - Passionate. STUDENT: Passionate. STUDENT: Passionate. STUDENT: Intense. - Passionate. - I think relaxed. - That's a good one. - I thought intense. - So intense. OK. So what did you do to-- she was going for passionate, by the way. - Sorry. - Yeah. OK, so what kind of things do you think you did to get passionate, technically. - Well first, I thought the difference, to me, between passion and intensity is that passion can be also introverted, so that's where that came from. Technically, I tried to have a faster, but still a wide, vibrato. Yeah. Just tried to convey passion through my bow. - All right. My suggestion-- - Mm-hmm. - Divide the bow. STUDENT: OK. - [VIOLIN SOUNDS] I would divide the bow. I mean, that's always easier. - OK. - I like to divide bows. It's easier and you can still maintain the line. OK, good. Thank you very much. All right, next. What piece do you have? - I have the Chaconne. - Oh, the Chaconne. Oh OK, fine. All right, so let's see what I want you to do with it. Don't pl...

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.

I used to play the violin when I was nine and stopped playing after high school. I recently picked it up again and enjoy it so much more!! Thank you for this class.

excellent class... now I can appreciate listening to violin in concerts..

Mr. Perlman's wisdom and experience are incomparable. He generously shares his knowledge with warmth, kindness, and good humor. Thank you!

Perlman is a fantastic teacher. The class covers some basic violin principles which are nice to hear from a master like Perlman, but there's so much additional wisdom on top of that. It was a fantastic class. Thank you!


A fellow student

Some were fearful,some so high pitched,some really good and some made me say "Oh I wanna cry"!

A fellow student

I found the demonstrations of different mods with colors and tones fascinating. Especially what the performers thought they needed to do technically to produce the nuances!!

John D.

Fascinating. I’m not a violinist, so this game was just wonderful. The color game really shows how meaning comes from tone, NOT just from the notes.


In classical music it's easy to fall into the bad habit of making perfect execution of notes the top priority. Thanks maestro for keeping us on track here

Phyllis, Chia-Yu L.

Thank you Maestro for sharing this game. For my 11 yr old girl who plays violin, it's interesting and useful. I am a cellist, I know how hard it is to express the emotion through the instrument. By this video we both know that music is what you feel through the bottom of your heart.