27. June 2013 · 4 comments · Categories: IDRS2013

Peter Cooper Masterclass

A few notes … I’m paraphrasing sometimes as I can’t type fast enough to keep up!

Get out of that correct and seriousness mindset.

Feel like there’s an incredible whitewater of air. (Brahms’ 2nd symphony, last movement)

If you’re playing the Violin Concerto it doesn’t matter if your reed is great at 7:00 if you are playing the second movement at 8:30. Keep reeds damp rather than keeping them wet. (Talked about leaving a moistened reed in the case … don’t leave in water … either an open reed case or closed depending upon how open you need the reed, and its state, age and condition.)

Learn the WHOLE part rather than learning from the excerpt book.

How many of you care if she is feeling uncomfortable or not? (When student said what he suggested, which worked, felt uncomfortable.)

The common culprit is “support” and I don’t like that word. When you hear support you kind of clench everything. … instead think soft but athletically ready for anything. Of course you have to use your abdominal muscles, but think air. (He’s not saying don’t support, but is talking about how we think of that.)

It’s not blowing harder, but letting go. (On the high D in the first.)

This solo is piano, but it’s a noble piano. (Brahms’ 1)

I had all these nuances planned and then I played it in the orchestra and was then obliterated. (Said because he could tell the student had never played the work with an orchestra.)

I like finding different ways of playing it (a solo) and then deciding which one you like. … and that way if a conductor asks you, “can you do it this way?” you don’t say, “Well NO!”

Test your reeds on the hardest thing that you have to play.

Get a reed too vibrant and then bring it back. (Just like) when you adjust an oboe, get the screw too loose and then bring it back. Embrace going over the edge. Play like Elvis. (His demonstration was incredibly over the edge.) Now play like a big sloppy drunk. (Hysterical!) Now play that way like you are too loud and in my face. You can’t play right on the edge unless you’ve first crossed it to know where the edge is.

I play the first note with a harmonic A. (Brahms’ Violin Concerto.)

Show solo vs tutti. In an audition the bassoonist on the committee will say, “She obliterated my solo!” If you don’t pull back. (Points out that you have to know the all of it, just not the oboe part.) Play it as if you are playing in the orchestra, not as an excerpt.

If you use a mute (he does) don’t broadcast it.

Don’t double dot because you are afraid of playing a triplet. It’s just math. (Variations on a theme by Haydn)

Piano [the dynamic marking] is a range rather than a level.

I love his suggestion of taking a very small section of a phrase and turn it into an exercise. You really start to hear how inconsistencies. He talks about an audition being about a thousand little consistencies.

I’ll stop now … it’s difficult to listen and blog at the same time! (I lied … I’m adding more.)


  1. Jillian Camwell

    I can really hear Peter’s voice in some of these. I have lots of recordings of excerpt classes with Peter while I did my Master’s with him at UNC. Such a great master class teacher, technician and musician!

  2. I really enjoyed his class, Jillian! I’m sorry I was too shy to talk to him. 🙁

  3. lol hey thats me next to the girl in the purple! I really loved this class I thought he was so funny and insightful!

  4. Well hello, Ashley! Thanks for leaving this note … I’m just sorry we didn’t meet! Yes, he was great and I really enjoyed the masterclass. 🙂

  5. Pingback: Favorite blog posts, June 2013 | Bret Pimentel, woodwinds