A Master Class is essentially a private lesson where performing artist peers take turns showcasing selected works for teacher evaluation and in front of the entire group. Priceless performing experience is gleaned. The teacher provides interpretation, inspiration, and evaluation in turn to each student. Then the student plays the piece again, incorporation teacher feedback to obtain perfection. Comments tend to focus on the finer details of articulation, tone, phrasing, and interpretation.
Occasionally Master Classes are made public, giving the student an added outlet for honing performance skills. In Europe, there are typically no private lessons; everyone learns from the teacher in a Master Class setting. This setting provides built-in competition in the form of positive peer pressure, since each student typically prepares and plays the same assigned, progressively graded, repertoire.
In North America, the greater share of music education occurs in the form of private lessons. However, Master Classes offer a unique pedagogical venue complete with added learning of a specific nature and/or theme. These classes serve as an outlet for performance opportunities. While this type of class is somewhat informal, there exists a heightened awareness where over time performance nerves are controlled. In addition to all the above advantages, Master Classes create a wonderful opportunity for social interaction and inspiration among musical peers. Students celebrate accomplishments and track their progress with others in the Studio.
The Master Class may be with an invited Guest Soloist of high or even International stature. This gives the student a chance to glean from other styles of pedagogy. When students are approaching performance exams, concerts, or competition dates, this can be an invaluable experience to give them the extra confidence needed to excel.
Master Classes spotlight the precise areas of learning needed at that point in time by each student. Within this framework, the teacher establishes lesson guidelines for follow up in subsequent Private Lessons and Master Classes. For a high level of progress and achievement, Master Classes are essential because through them students learn what to do and what not to do by listening to their peers, and gleaning insights from further teacher instruction.
In addition this wealth of knowledge, students build tremendous confidence and are inspired to advance when they observe someone of their own age excel.
In summary, the Master Class is essential to music education and achieving a high performance standard that is measurable among peers.