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Arts & Entertainment

The Performance Mindset

Itzhak Perlman

Lesson time 22:21 min

From overcoming anxiety to achieving total focus, Mr. Perlman shares his tips for performing for a live audience.

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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INSTRUCTOR (VOICEOVER): My process is to go over the piece to see if I'm comfortable technically with everything. And if I'm not, then I go over it slowly. The important thing going on stage is you don't want any surprises. When you approach a new piece, it's nice to look at the score and see what's going on. If you can play it with piano and see what it sounds like and so on and so forth. Then basically study the notes. See, what that is-- I-- a good thing to do is let's say if you have a passage that's slightly complicated make sure that the fingerings that you use are comfortable for you. And then comes the most important thing, which is once the fingerings are comfortable write them down in your music and only play those fingerings. Bowings and fingerings, once you reach a situation where they are comfortable for you, keep playing them. Don't change the fingerings. Don't change the bowings. Keep repeating them as you practice. What does this do? It means that it stays in your head all the time so that when you let a piece go, let's say, for a year or two and you want to come back to it, the fingerings and bowing are like a copy in your brain, and it makes it much easier to bring a piece back. If you keep changing fingerings and bowings, first of all, it's difficult to study a piece by heart. The most important thing about studying something by heart is-- obviously number one is repetition, but if you repeat something and every time you repeat that you do-- you use a different bowings and a different fingerings, every time-- then-- then your brain doesn't really have a pattern. You see, you need all the patterns. You need to be able to see the music, and you need-- you need to be able to actually repeat the same set of fingerings and the same set of bowings at the same time. The important thing-- that's extremely important. Because otherwise it's all helter skelter. And it's not going to-- it's going to make it very, very difficult to-- to study things by heart. When I'm playing, I'm absolutely and totally focused on what I'm doing musically so that does justice to the music. It's very funny because my wife tells this story and-- because I was playing, and there was an earthquake and I did not know it-- there was one. And afterwards said, didn't you see the chandelier move and stuff? I just-- I was busy playing the concert. So when I'm concentrating on something, I'm not going to start worrying about a little old earthquake or something like that unless-- so you know, I did play at one time a concert-- actually it's very funny-- in LA where the fire alarm went off in the middle of the concert. And nobody knew what to do. As a matter of fact, we were sort of on the stage, and the alarm goes on, you know. And finally after a few seconds somebody from the audience says, what should we do? Should we leave or should we stay? And luckily it was just a computer glitch that-- that triggered the alarm. So all sort of little thin...

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.

As a professional musician I knew that I could learn a lot from this master. His generous, gentle spirit and insight into music making was thrilling!

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.

Itzhak Perlman is an incredible teacher and he covered the violin from many different angles, from intonation, to different playing styles, and even purchasing a fine instrument. It was lovely going through this masterclass and I have learned a lot not just about playing violin, but the complexity and passion of music.

I was hoping for a more fundamental beginner's description of how to take up the violin. However, this icon of string instruments was fascinating.


Kathryn P.

very helpful for any one wants to learn violin Itzhak Perlman is a phenominal teacher in many aspects of violin or just music in general thank you for these lessons Itzhak it they have helped me alot

Mike L.

What a beautiful lesson from a man with a warm kind heart. If I could rate this 10 stars I would! this lesson from Mr. P helped me a lot and I would suggest this for those who are just beginning like myself. Thank you Masterclass for organizing this class and thank you Itzhak Perlman.

Renato R.

Yes Performance is number two on playing violin.Learning must be the Nr one.

A fellow student

I was hoping for a bit of insight into how to develop this depth of focus while performing. Mindfulness, meditation?


I have good knowledge of the people on your list. I thought that this is a poker site. If it isn't please reimburse me. Thanks.

Dori S.

This was a particularly thoughtful session. I learned so much. Thanks to everyone.

Zlata I.

Love how he gives advice about practicing performance and to find situations that make you nervous just to train you. I suffered from stage fright very long and managed to graduate on the violin simply by performing a LOT and getting used to handling the tension and performing despite of being nervous (instead of fighting it).