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Violinist Grigory Kalinovsky's Best Tips for Leading Masterclasses

Kalinovsky will be giving a masterclass on November 12 with the North Shore Chamber Music Festival — and will be streamed LIVE on The Violin Channel

The North Shore Chamber Music Festival is presenting a Master's Workshop with Grigory Kalinovsky and AFSF 2022 Opportunity Award recipient Marina Alba López on November 12 at 12 PM (ET).

Ahead of this event, The Violin Channel got to ask violinist Grigory Kalinovsky: "What are your best tips for giving masterclasses with advanced students? What are the most important aspects to tackle when you only have 1 hour with a student during a masterclass?

"Real work - real teaching and real learning - happens in a studio, one-on-one between a teacher and a student over the course of weeks, months, and years. The unavoidable side-effect of that meaningful work is that after those weeks, months, and years, some things start feeling routine - the student’s perception of repeated technical (or even musical) observations from the teacher gets dulled and feels less crucial, and the teacher can also gradually get desensitized to certain persistent problems in the student’s playing and start subconsciously dismissing them as simply that student’s idiosyncrasies - I often find myself as guilty of that as anyone else.

"To me, masterclasses are about breaking into that routine and offering a fresh look at the student’s playing. Very often I’ll comment on something in a masterclass, and I can see in the student’s eyes that look of “Oh yes, I’ve heard that before and maybe it is actually important”. And sometimes I’ll observe a masterclass where my student is playing for someone else, and I myself start seeing their playing with a fresh eye, and when the masterclass teacher makes a comment, a light goes on in my brain - “how could I have missed that?” Easily - when you are busy pushing “the party line” to improve the student’s playing in a certain direction, you have to pick and choose what to focus on, and after a while it is very important to break out of that routine and broaden the ideas - that is where a masterclass experience can really help.

"When giving a masterclass, especially to advanced students, my goal is twofold - to create a positive and meaningful experience for the student and the audience, and to open the student’s and audience’s eyes to some new idea they haven’t considered before (or got tired of hearing from their teacher). To make the experience positive, it is important to find some aspect of the student’s playing that they can visibly improve on the spot - this can be something as simple as sound production on open strings or as sophisticated as introducing advanced bowing techniques for limitless color variety or demonstrating architectural structure in a Brahms sonata. To make the experience meaningful, it is also important to introduce (or reintroduce) some idea that will stay with them for a long time and that they can take into the practice room and incorporate into their playing hopefully forever. Often those two things can be one and the same, but sometimes you need to break them up - find something that you can help the student improve on immediately and also leave them with something to think about for the future. In either case, the goal is to leave them feeling invigorated and inspired to practice and improve further."


A devoted educator, Kalinovsky joined the Jacobs School of Music faculty in the fall of 2013 and continues to teach at the Heifetz International Music Institute and IU Summer String Academy. Previously a faculty member at the Manhattan School of Music, he has taught at many summer music festivals, including Pinchas Zukerman’s Young Artists Program in Canada, Keshet Eilon Mastercourse in Israel, Bowdoin International Music Festival in Maine, Soesterberg International Music Festival in Holland, Summit Music Festival in New York, “Il Violino Magico” in Italy, and Manhattan in the Mountains, where he was also one of the founding artistic directors.

He has presented master classes at many major U.S. festivals and music schools, including New England Conservatory, the Colburn School, Meadowmount, University of Maryland, San Francisco Conservatory, and Seattle Conservatory, and at numerous European and Asian institutions, such as the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Buchmann-Mehta Scool of Music and Jerusalem Music Center in Israel, Hochschule für Musik “Hanns Eisler” in Germany, Beijing Central Conservatory in China, Seoul National University and Korea National University of Arts in Seoul.

Prof. Kalinovsky’s students have won top prizes at national and international competitions, including the Spohr International Violin Competition, Tibor Varga Junior Competition, Menuhin Young Artists Competition in England, Andrea Postacchini Young Violinists Competition in Italy, and Fischoff International Chamber Music Competition in Chicago, among others.

Kalinovsky started his music education with Tatiana Liberova in his native St. Petersburg, Russia. After coming to New York, he continued his studies with Pinchas Zukerman and Patinka Kopec at the Manhattan School of Music, where he served as a faculty member shortly after graduating and until his move to Indiana University.

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