From Itzhak Perlman's MasterClass

The Three-Hour Practice Schedule

Mr. Perlman breaks down his practice schedule hour by hour, exploring scales, exercises, études, and repertoire pieces.

Topics include: Risks of Over-Practicing


Mr. Perlman breaks down his practice schedule hour by hour, exploring scales, exercises, études, and repertoire pieces.

Topics include: Risks of Over-Practicing

Itzhak Perlman

Teaches Violin

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[VIOLIN MUSIC PLAYING] ITZHAK PERLMAN: Let me tell you what my daily practice schedule was for many, many years. I started off, first hour, scales; second hour, exercise etudes; and third hour, the repertoire. So each day, you use a different scale, A major, A minor, whatever it is. And you start very simply by playing just repeated notes. [PLAYING SCALE] All right. So what is this, you know, this simple A major scale? What does it do? So immediately it gives you the opportunity to make a good healthy sound using all the things that we've talked about, what makes a sound, you know, with a bow, you know, the bow speed, the bow pressure, the direction of the bow. Immediately, when you play single notes, that's what you are faced with. You are faced with having to make a good sound. You also are faced with playing in tune. That's very important. So the scales are extremely important for the sound, for the intonation, for the bow control. It's basically essential in violin playing. My favorite story-- which is not a story, which is totally the truth-- is the great Jascha Heifetz. When he retired, he woke up every morning, and he would play scales. You know, it's, like, you have breakfast, you played scales. You had breakfast and play the scales. So the scales are extremely important. The scales, arpeggios, why are they so important? Because they're basically, they're the basics of violin playing. And when you study pieces, they contain a lot of these things. They contain arpeggios. They contain, you know, the Beethoven Violin Concerto, listen to what happens at the very, almost at the very beginning, is a-- [MUSIC - BEETHOVEN, "VIOLIN CONCERTO IN D MAJOR"] So what is that? That's a scale of octaves. [MUSIC - BEETHOVEN, "VIOLIN CONCERTO IN D MAJOR"] So if you don't have your octaves, that means that you have to learn this. And then it gives you scale. [MUSIC - BEETHOVEN, "VIOLIN CONCERTO IN D MAJOR"] So those are all a bunch of scales and etudes and arpeggios and stuff. Now, if you have a basis of that when you practice, every day those scales, first of all, it makes it much easier for you to learn pieces that contain those scales, you know. I mean, like, it would be interesting. If you practice your octaves, very important for the octaves to be clean. The intonation and octaves is a real challenge. But if you have your octaves, your-- [PLAYS OCTAVES ON VIOLIN] If you have something like that, then you have a piece of music that contains octaves. You have to practice those octaves especially, because you've got the octaves in your hand, because you've been practicing scales every day. Otherwise, you're going to say, oh, my god, I have to [INAUDIBLE]. [PLAYS SAME NOTE REPEATEDLY] In other words, all the space here is all messed up because you haven't practiced it. So scales is, I mean, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of scales. There are some scale books that people use. You k...

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.


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I don't play violin, but do play in a small orchestra and found the course just wonderful. Good practice techniques and understanding your instrument is universal. A joy to watch.

Itzhak has his logical way of explanation in his instruction that makes sense to engineers like me. I have been learning this online 2 years ago.

I am a student who is passionate in learning about the musical arts and to participate in a masterclass with the great violin virtuoso, Mr. Itzhak Perlman, was just an absolute joy.

This was one of best Master Classes and I would love for more violin lessons. He is an exceptional musician and teacher. Thank you