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Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

Filtering by Tag: Jascha Heifetz

The Key is Consistency

Andrew Hitz

Much more important than total time spent is the consistency with which you practice.

If I don't practice one day, I know it; two days, the critics know it; three days, the public knows it.

- Jascha Heifetz

Consistency in terms of both how often you practice and how focused you are in the practice room.

The first step to consistency is practicing every single day. The best way to get playing in the extreme high register is to play in the extreme high register. Pretty simple stuff.

The second step is how consistently you bring a laser-like focus to your practicing.

I had the privilege of watching David Fedderley work with the top three finishers in the Young Artist competition at a conference back in March. The top two players were really good. Very impressive for 19 and 20 year olds.

The person who finished third in the competition played last of the three and was by far the best musical storyteller of the bunch but her tuba playing was well behind them. David asked her, knowing the answer, "So with that musical storytelling, you won the competition, right?" She simply smiled.

He then explained that the other two were much better tuba operators than she was at this point but that she had musical ideas that were just dying to get out of her horn.

He then pointed at me, then Charles Villarubia, Justin Benavidez, and Demondrae Thurman. He asked her what all of us have in common. She smiled and said "They are professionals."

He said "Yes. They get paid to play their horns for people. Do you know what else they have in common? I know each of them and know that they each bring a laser-like focus with them every single time they practice."

You could see the lightbulb go off in the student on the spot.

So while the amount you practice is certainly important, the consistency in how often your butt is in that chair coupled with the focus you bring to those sessions is much more important.

Heifetz on Practicing, Technical Mastery, and Programing

Andrew Hitz


This quote is taken from a 1919 interview with violin great Jascha Heifetz where he touches on a wide range of very important topics including not practicing too much, developing technical mastery on your instrument, and programming while keeping the audience in mind.

There are about 20 quotes I could pull from the interview to highlight but here's another that I really liked:

“Violin Mastery? To me it means the ability to make the violin a perfectly controlled instrument guided by the skill and intelligence of the artist, to compel it to respond in movement to his every wish. The artist must always be superior to his instrument, it must be his servant, one that he can do with what he will."

Jascha Heifetz Master Class: Monday YouTube Fix

Andrew Hitz

The internet never ceases to amaze me.  Getting to witness a master class of one of the greatest violinists of all time some 50 years after the fact is pretty remarkable.

Here is a master class in four parts that the great Jascha Heifetz gave at USC in 1962.  The intensity he portrays in this class reminds me of how he played the violin.

My favorite comment from the class: "You're playing it too safe."


Monday YouTube Fix: Jascha Heifetz

Andrew Hitz

I'll never forget the first time I heard Heifetz play the violin.  It was the summer of 1998 and I was in Breckenridge playing with the National Repertory Orchestra.   My friend John Grillo was in the bass section and he had a passion for sharing great music with others.  He asked me if I had ever heard Heifetz's recording of Bach's Sonatas and Partitas.  When I told him no his face lit up and he proceeded to put it on at a very loud volume. My mind was blown by the precision and insistence of interpretation that I was hearing.  Heifetz has been a favorite of mine ever since.  I just stumbled upon this clip of Heifetz in his late 60s playing the Chaconne from the Bach Partita No. 2 in D Minor.  Even late in life, his playing is simply impeccable.  He is able to get so much tone out of each sixteenth note.