The way painters master specific techniques like drapery and lighting is by learning from the Greats. We see familiarity in all sorts of works because the artist probably takes inspiration from a renowned painter who came before them. “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” and this is not only seen in art.

This famous saying from Oscar Wilde is especially applicable to classical music. Many interpretations of different repertoire students play today come from the Greats like Heifetz, Galamian, and Oistrakh. Just like in art, we see very similar phrasing and musicality manifesting through students’ performances today.

This is probably a result of interpretations being passed down through generations of teachers. Students can also be seen watching YouTube videos of Perlman and Kavakos for inspiration in conservatories and music schools. But is there another way we can truly master the Greats’ phrasing and style in repertoire?

I present to you, the Numark MP103USB.

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The secret weapon I’ve been using for the last 6+ years in order to prepare for competitions, performances, etc.

There is a transition all students go through when preparing repertoire that I had struggled with in my early years. Students typically work through pieces in sections in order to master technique and difficult spots. Then, they must make the piece sound like one whole performance instead of a compilation of etudes. I had always struggled with blending the sections and making these transitions sound effortless.

But then, my teacher advised me to purchase this lovely machine. One can pop a CD or USB stick in and slow the track down to your desired tempo. You can also select a Point A and Point B in the track and loop the section over and over again to practice.


Typically, I would start off looping melodic phrases in a slower tempo to emulate the violinist’s phrasing. Next, I would practice a difficult section by myself and then play it through with the recording over and over again slow to fast. Finally, I would go through each of the transitions on the recording to blend all the sections and make them seem effortless. By the end, I was playing through the recording up to tempo and the piece resembled something close to a performance.

My teacher always told me that students must first learn from the Greats how style and phrasing should sound. Once they have improved this over the years and have gained an idea of where notes lead, then they can begin to experiment with musicality. This is the step where students become artists and this device can help you so much in working toward that goal.

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