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Arts & Entertainment


Itzhak Perlman

Lesson time 10:45 min

Your vibrato is like your fingerprint. Learn how it can add richness, color, and emotion to your playing.

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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[MUSIC - VIOLIN SONATA IN G MINOR, DEVIL'S TRILL SONATA"] MAN: Your fingerprint is your vibrato. It's like your language because that stays with you for the rest of your life. For me, there's not enough attention paid for the vibrato as a musical tool. It's a tool to express musically certain things. And I always think about some people feel that vibrato is like those keyboards, synthesizer keyboard. And you have all these buttons, and each button says this one is a violin, this one is a cello, this one is a trumpet, and so on. They also have one that says vibrato. So you push the button, and you've got a vibrato. But that vibrato basically is the same for the entire phrase. And I feel that vibrato is really-- you can actually vary it and make the phrase sound a certain way whether you want it to sound-- like I said before, you want it to sound relaxed, you want it to sound intense, you want it to sound big and rich, you want it to sound, let's say, slightly colorless if the music demands it, and so on and so forth. A lot of that has to do with vibrato. Now, the vibrato comes in different shades. You can go in the store, and you get a nice, big vibrato. And then there is the store that gives you a slightly less big vibrato. I'm kidding, of course. All right. So let's say what is the vibrato made of? The vibrato is a wobble, you know? So that no vibrato-- [PLAYS NOTE] --and then a little. [PLAYS NOTE] A bit more. [PLAYS NOTE] Even more. [PLAYS NOTE] Even more. [PLAYS NOTE] All right. So what I was doing is I was basically wobbling. It's from slow to fast. Now, there is how I did this. There's a vibrato that's a little narrower like this. [PLAYS NOTE] And then it's wider. [PLAYS NOTE] And then it's really wide-- [PLAYS NOTE] --which is too wide because that's when it's so-- the width has to be in combination with the speed. So there is a slow vibrato. [PLAYS NOTE] And there's a fast one. [PLAYS NOTE] All right. Now, the fast vibrato, you don't want to use as much wobble with a fast vibrato because it'll sound like a trill. [PLAYS NOTE] You don't want to do that. Then there is the other thing, which is when you go up on the instrument here. [PLAYS NOTES] So the intervals on the lower half of the violin are bigger than they are here. So what does that mean? Do you use the same amount of vibrato wobble here as you do here? You don't because if you do that, then it'll become like , like that. So you have to adjust the vibrato. So as you go up there, you narrow the vibrato. So it'll sound basically a-- [PLAYS NOTES] You see? I hardly use any vibrato. And then, of course, there is yet another problem with vibrato is how do you vibrate? You vibrate with the fingers like this? Or do you vibrate with your arm like that? And some people do both. The thing for me, I always like variety. I always think you can vibrate any way you want...

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.

A very descriptive class with lots of information. The content is easy to understand. Mr. Perlman is an excellent teacher!

This is excellent! His explanation is so clear. The lesson makes me encouraged.

Good, I like sir's in depth analysis on every topic of violin-playing

I thought it one of the best classes I've taken. I'm at an amateur level but love to listen to great music. Great presenter. Loved- class. Delightful


George M.

I haven't picked up my violin in 30 years. Since I started here, I can't put it down.

A fellow student

I played over 20 years and trying to play now the Mendelssohn violin concerto and his techniquesa really helped me.

Brian H.

Several times, when Mr. Perlman is speaking right up until he launches into a musical example, right before he plays the first note, he often vocalizes (quite strongly) an "Uhhh" or and "Oooh" sound. In these moments you can hear and see this great master switching his audiation from speech to music - and likewise his channel of expression from his speaking voice to his bow. Fascinating.

Peter M.

Another fantastic lesson. This will help me immensely. Wonderfully described.


The most amazing thing is to have the chance to feel Mr Perlman so Close and Human. I thought he was a God haha. He Jokes and he is so nice to us. I love this class, I feel so grateful to this Masterclass.


I have been playing violin for nine years, and Itzhak Perlman is one of my idols, I am currently playing the Mendelssohn concerto so it's really helpful that that is one of his example songs. I am incredibly honored to learn from Mr. Perlman.

Janet C.

I am new to the violin and have not yet tried vibrato. It gives the music such warmth and humanity.

Alexander S.

I just love Mr Perlman’s old school rendition of Tartini’s Devil’s Trill Sonata. His romantic, lush rendition may not amuse the intellectuals, but I find it irresistible. Perlman is a modern virtuoso, but his approach his undoubtedly from the Golden Age of violin playing. His command of vibrato and all its subtleties is one of the secret ingredients to the beautiful and unique Perlman sound.

A fellow student

"Vibrato is only heard when it's out of kilter." That's a new insight for me, thank you.