What is your opinion of guitar classes/masterclasses?

Discussions relating to the classical guitar which don't fit elsewhere.
Carey
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Re: What is your opinion of guitar classes/masterclasses?

Post by Carey » Wed Aug 09, 2017 1:57 am

I have only observed 'master' classes, and have learned a lot from them I think, but I wouldn't want to play in one. What a pressure cooker!
After all, it is supposed to be about... music, right? I guess if you're an aspiring pro it makes sense to have these kind of intense situations.

Of the ones I've attended, the teachers who've stood out to me were, as mentioned above, David Tanenbaum (low-key and encouraging, but misses nothing), Hubert Käppel (better be prepared, that guy's serious, and expects you to be), and Jonathan Leathwood (insights I'd probably never
find otherwise).

Carey
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Re: What is your opinion of guitar classes/masterclasses?

Post by Carey » Wed Aug 09, 2017 2:01 am

I'd add Nigel North to my list: incredible refinement and for showing what's possible.

ben etow
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Re: What is your opinion of guitar classes/masterclasses?

Post by ben etow » Wed Aug 09, 2017 2:37 pm

Lugosi wrote:
Tue Aug 08, 2017 9:59 pm
From the performer's standpoint, what can be learned in a masterclass can just as easily be learned in a private lesson.
Except the pupil doesn't prepare the lesson the same way. If you want to benefit from a masterclass, one should have studied the work as far, deep as possible.
If the master has to tell basic comments, then the masterclass isn't very useful,, even to the audience.

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Re: What is your opinion of guitar classes/masterclasses?

Post by ben etow » Wed Aug 09, 2017 2:40 pm

Carey wrote:
Wed Aug 09, 2017 1:57 am
I have only observed 'master' classes, and have learned a lot from them I think, but I wouldn't want to play in one. What a pressure cooker!
After all, it is supposed to be about... music, right? I guess if you're an aspiring pro it makes sense to have these kind of intense situations.

Of the ones I've attended, the teachers who've stood out to me were, as mentioned above, David Tanenbaum (low-key and encouraging, but misses nothing), Hubert Käppel (better be prepared, that guy's serious, and expects you to be), and Jonathan Leathwood (insights I'd probably never
find otherwise).
The pressure is the same as for a concert IMO.
One should be as prepared as for a concert, which means as prepared as possible... and for a masterclass with anyone, not just Hubert Kappel.

Carey
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Re: What is your opinion of guitar classes/masterclasses?

Post by Carey » Wed Aug 09, 2017 3:04 pm

I agree that one should be very well prepared before playing in a master class, but I've *often* seen players who were not.
What a wasted opportunity.

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Guitar-ded
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Re: What is your opinion of guitar classes/masterclasses?

Post by Guitar-ded » Wed Aug 09, 2017 10:58 pm

Lugosi wrote:
Tue Aug 08, 2017 9:59 pm
From the performer's standpoint, what can be learned in a masterclass can just as easily be learned in a private lesson. So I don't see the benefit of a masterclass if you are the performer.
Also, for many less than top level guys they are a bit of 'bunce'. A chance to earn a little more out of their appearance in a particular location due to the fees paid by both the participants and spectators.
I know, I'm a (slightly) old cynic.
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cedartop
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Re: What is your opinion of guitar classes/masterclasses?

Post by cedartop » Wed Aug 09, 2017 11:38 pm

I found them very helpful over the years. When I started, I attended a number were from one to two weeks in length, so there was quite a lot of teaching going on. Since I had a lot to learn that was very helpful I did about 5 of that nature. Then the swing to classes of much shorter duration arrived and I did a lot of those. I remember asking Barrueco about his approach to doing them because I found that some of the things he told me did not sink in until a couple of years later. He said it depends on when you are going to see the student again, but that he always tried to give the student something that would be beneficial considering the circumstances. There were definitely guitarists who were better at giving the classes than others, but most were a very positive experience.
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ben etow
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Re: What is your opinion of guitar classes/masterclasses?

Post by ben etow » Thu Aug 10, 2017 12:28 pm

Carey wrote:
Wed Aug 09, 2017 3:04 pm
I agree that one should be very well prepared before playing in a master class, but I've *often* seen players who were not.
What a wasted opportunity.
I wouldn't say I've seen unprepared players often, but too frequently yes. In those cases, I could learn as a teacher with limited experience how an experienced master would start to solve the too many problems. Also useful even for my own approach to a new work.

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Re: What is your opinion of guitar classes/masterclasses?

Post by Gwynedd » Sat Aug 12, 2017 4:44 pm

Not everyone is a good teacher.
I've had two master classes: audited a guitar class and took a piano class.

The piano class was great and ended up in a performance of a Debussy and a Bach piece that were beyond my level before the class. I learned a lot.

The guitar class was excellent: the guitarist is a great teacher and comes from a great teacher so he had good insights into how to get more musicality out of the students. We knew each student well and their repertoire: hearing him adjust some of the phrasing and other details to take the music to a new level was exciting. We literally gasped when a student made a significant change. Afterwards, you could hear the students who had the class playing a lot better.

I heard some of the other master classes were "I already knew that" type of thing but I got a lot out of auditing and I'm sure if this particular guitarist ever comes back, I'll play in the class (I considered myself at too low a level when his class was given, to really make it worthwhile.)

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Eberhard Mueller
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Re: What is your opinion of guitar classes/masterclasses?

Post by Eberhard Mueller » Sun Aug 13, 2017 2:46 am

I had lots of master class opportunities in the 80's. I was taking my private lessons from a faculty instructor based in a university setting which attracted many visiting recitalists. Short story, my playing at these classes was a disaster due to performance anxiety. For that reason, I think it takes a certain temperament to handle master classes and may not benefit everyone.

What is the right temperament? Well, it is an intimidating process as others have pointed out and I mistakenly pushed the boundaries of my ability (under stress) on those occasions! I was a mature aged student with not so much going for me compared to the youngsters and possessed a fragile ego to boot. That's bad!

As a result my teacher spared me, after a few embarrassing performances, by no longer including me. (Well, that hurt a bit too but it was for the best.) I was much happier and learned more by auditing master classes from then on. One memorable experience was auditing Narciso Yepes' class. He was only about 60 years old and blind, only able to read a score by pressing his nose right up against the sheet. Time had not been good to him as he looked far far older and died about 10 years later! He was indeed a cordial and gracious gentleman with all the performers. I don't remember anything at all of his concert performance the next day, 'though.

Another memorable experience was when I played a well practiced piece but on a slip up, I "telegraphed" my disappointment at the mistake. The "master," (I shall not name,) would have none of that and crudely demolished my fragile ego. (Perhaps, I learned nothing more that session?) That evening, he gave his recital, but nervous, under duress because the airline had lost his guitar! He started the recital on a borrowed instrument and only switched to his own when it arrived during intermission.

Indeed, as fate would have it, he slipped up on the Bach suite. He recovered very quickly, but clearly evident, from my vantage in the front row, "telegraphed" an annoyed with self gesture. Mind you he was a pro about it and I had been merely a doofus! :oops:
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Nick Cutroneo
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Re: What is your opinion of guitar classes/masterclasses?

Post by Nick Cutroneo » Sun Aug 13, 2017 3:10 am

Lugosi wrote:
Tue Aug 08, 2017 9:59 pm
From the performer's standpoint, what can be learned in a masterclass can just as easily be learned in a private lesson. So I don't see the benefit of a masterclass if you are the performer.
Perspective. The reason behind performing in a master class is to get the perspective of the piece from THAT teacher/performer. IE - I want to know what "this player" thinks of how I'm playing the piece and what insight they can give me. At times the information is a repeat from your private lesson instructor. So one could ask the question afterwards, "Hum...maybe I'm missing something?" or "I thought I was doing this but now 2 different people have told me otherwise." It provides the performer with a bit of self reflection which then (hopefully) allows them to grow as a musician.
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Re: What is your opinion of guitar classes/masterclasses?

Post by Nick Cutroneo » Sun Aug 13, 2017 3:30 am

Adrian Allan wrote:
Mon Aug 07, 2017 3:25 pm
...it doesn't come close to a pupil-teacher relationship built up over many months or years.
It's not supposed to.

In the right hands, a masterclass (from the players point of view) can be inspiring and enlightening. In the wrong hands it can be degrading and embarrassing. As someone who has played in many classes, and one who has given master classes I feel they can be quite useful.

The last master class I participated in was for Oscar Ghigla. This was about 7 or 8 years ago now. I performed for him the Rossiniana No. 1 by Giuliani. Now I had played for Oscar once before, and I've watched him teach and have heard stories. This is a guy who will stop you after the first note you play if he doesn't like what he's hearing. And he has no problem stopping you in the middle of the performance. So here I am performing the Rossinana (18 minute piece, btw). Now I sat through 2 other performances/classes before I went up (sitting in the room for 2 hours before my time), and had to sit down and play this piece...not a smart idea.

Anyway, I played the piece - definitely was not the strongest performance on my part. Every moment of that 18 minute piece I wished that he would just stop me and we could work on the piece. But no, I performed the whole piece. I'm pretty sure I missed every single scale in that piece, kicking myself for it too. So after the 18 minute performance, he got up on stage and sat next to me - and then speak to me about "being the hawk and hunting rats". IE - not being scared of the scale and "attacking it". He also spoke about dealing with consistency and practice with scale passages in pieces. This speech went on for at least 30-40 minutes. Oscar, being a wonderful speaker offered a lot of imagery in his words. At that moment, I wasn't ready for it, but looking back every word of that was correct and lives with me to this day. He also went into a thing about the politics of Italy at the time when Rossini wrote the arias and how the political climate is represented in the music. Also about how he "grew up" with these arias and how they are second nature, and the performer must too study those arias completely. But after he was done with the speech, everyone in the room thought the class was over. Nope, Oscar excused himself quickly to use the facilities and said "stay there, and when I get back - we'll work on the piece". The whole room was in shock! Oscar came back and we started actually working on the piece. Needless to say, after about a 90 minute class with him, Elena called and asked "where he was" because she wanted to eat dinner. So we had to stop the class. I must say, that I learned a lot from that class, but I also had to be "talked down from the ledge" from a friend/teacher of mine too. It was intense. I didn't know what to make of it. I definitely left confused. At the time, I wasn't happy with it - but now as I look back, there was a lot given to me in that class. And I'm sure Oscar could have given me much more.

Too many players are there to "impress" the teacher who's there. That's not the point. Play your best, and be receptive to what will be taught. Try new things, and give them a shot in your practice at home. Sometimes you'll hear the same thing your teacher has been saying, maybe phrased differently, maybe phrased exactly the same. Reinforcement is good. And everyone can learn from a masterclass.
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pima1234
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Re: What is your opinion of guitar classes/masterclasses?

Post by pima1234 » Sun Aug 13, 2017 3:38 am

As a grad student at West Chester Univ of PA, I performed in a masterclass with the Pearl/Grey Duo ('98/'99?).

It was excellent. I worked through some Brouwer, and had just begun The Pedrick-Hutson Guitar Duo.

So it was beneficial.

I was also able to be in the audience for one of Manuel Barrueco's. That was wonderful.
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Re: What is your opinion of guitar classes/masterclasses?

Post by astro64 » Sun Aug 13, 2017 4:51 pm

Let's say that the Oscar Ghighlia masterclass at the GFA this year probably was not experienced by all players in an equally positive light. He was rude, even swore once at a student, and started telling a story about his own prowess playing competitions within the first few minutes of the student's performance. Needless to say, no one got to play more than a handful of notes before they were stopped. And some of these were GFA competitors.... I am sure there were some useful comments in there somewhere but the style of the class was an immediate turnoff and I felt sorry for the students. Fortunately all students took the experience with grace.

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Re: What is your opinion of guitar classes/masterclasses?

Post by Adrian Allan » Sun Aug 13, 2017 4:55 pm

astro64 wrote:
Sun Aug 13, 2017 4:51 pm
Let's say that the Oscar Ghighlia masterclass at the GFA this year probably was not experienced by all players in an equally positive light. He was rude, even swore once at a student, and started telling a story about his own prowess playing competitions within the first few minutes of the student's performance. Needless to say, no one got to play more than a handful of notes before they were stopped. And some of these were GFA competitors.... I am sure there were some useful comments in there somewhere but the style of the class was an immediate turnoff and I felt sorry for the students. Fortunately all students took the experience with grace.
This reinforces my view that some players who my be great, might need some basic teacher training. ie. the first law of teaching young adults should be - give them respect and be sensitive.
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