I had a big audition lined up for late March. I'd been practicing hard, for months, and I couldn't wait to get on stage and have all my work pay off. Well, you know what happened:
Poof! No more audition, no more concerts, no more performing of any kind. Everything had been taken away, by forces beyond my control. I'm guessing you've got a similar story.
So it might sound crazy for me to say that this past season has been my most rewarding... but I've been able to take creative strides in my own playing, make an impact for thousands of violinists worldwide, and take care of my family during uncertain times.
And if you're as passionate about the violin as I am, then the path is wide open for you too.
You've already put in thousands of hours mastering your instrument. Now I invite you to become a complete Virtuoso. I want to show you how to share your expertise, and to welcome the artistic and financial rewards that follow.
This summer, I want you to look back on a season of highlights... with much more in store.
When I made my very first video ten years ago, on the "Schumann Scherzo", I made it for exactly ten people: the ten who were scheduled to take a lesson with me that month. If you had asked me how many people in the world were working on that excerpt, I might have guessed 500. That video now has 100,000 views, and it's introducing my teaching to a new generation of violinists.
You have an audience too. They just haven't found you yet.
Wherever your passion lies (solo rep, orchestral, multi-style, teaching, or any combination), there are thousands of people out there just as passionate as you...
...but not as far along in their journeys. They're waiting to hear from you.
Being a jack-of-all-trades is useful when your house needs fixing up, but it doesn't inspire. It's your "powers", those things you do better than anyone else, that will attract your audience. I'll help you make them even stronger.
How will you use your powers? What will you offer your audience? That's your promise: read , watch, spend time with me... and you'll take your next step. I'll help you define and fulfill your promise, so that your audience will follow in your footsteps.
If you're just a violinist, you leave your profession in other peoples' hands. But if you're a Virtuoso, you decide what your career looks like. How many times have you heard, It must be so great to get paid to do what you love? Imagine making that come true this season.
Years from now, you'll be swapping stories about 2020-21 with colleagues. What will yours be?
Some people lost all their chances to perform live, so they let themselves get out of shape because they were afraid to look for new opportunities. You put in the hours, got in the best shape of your life, and created your own opportunities to play exciting repertoire for an enthusiastic audience.
This was the season when "everyone" discovered how terrible Zoom lessons were... except that you discovered how you could connect with an audience a thousand times larger than your current studio. And the teaching career you created was more enjoyable for you and gave your students better results.
The pandemic put everyone into survival mode, and it sapped all your creative energy... until you experienced how fulfilling it was to reach a new audience, create new programs, even forge an entirely new artistic identity. 2020-21 was the season you took control of your future.
The heart of the Virtuoso Master Course has always been my Practice Makes Performance system, which draws on my own violin journey. More than forty violinists and violists have now adopted this system as their own, and you can see and hear their amazing stories further down the page.
But until now, I've never shared my "other" journey: the one that started when I was a fresh-faced graduate, teaching the occasional lesson and wondering if I was making a difference.
So in the redesigned Virtuoso Master Course, I'll finally be pulling back the curtain and answering questions such as:
I'm Nathan Cole, First Associate Concertmaster of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and for the past fifteen years, I've been helping professional violinists solve problems, win auditions, and transform their careers.
I grew up in Kentucky, then went to the Curtis Institute of Music. What a shock! I had some ground to make up, so I had to get used to major hours in the practice room.
But there was a problem: even with all those hours, I wasn’t learning the difficult rep any faster. I was inconsistent day to day, and worst of all, from the practice room to the stage. By the time I realized I needed help, I was out of school and on my own.
That’s when I decided that if I ever wanted to find out how far I could take my playing, I had to develop my own practice method. It had to give me steady gains that would stay with me under pressure. And it had to fit around my full-time orchestra job.
Now I'm able to share that method with a worldwide audience of tens of thousands, all from my home in Pasadena. Your audience is out there, too. I'd love to help you reach them!
I have led more than 40 violinists and violists through two Virtuoso Master Courses over the last year. You'll hear from them further down this page, and they've accomplished some amazing things during our time together.
But for this third Virtuoso Master Course, I've redesigned the program from the ground up, keeping the core values intact while adding elements that will transform not just your playing, but your career:
Previously, I spent six months working with the members of the VMC, focusing exclusively on the technical and musical aspects of virtuoso violin and viola playing. This time, to give us ample space to develop career-building skills, I'm expanding the course to nine months. That also means nine individual consultations instead of six.
You might already know my wife Akiko Tarumoto as my co-host for our podcast, Stand Partners for Life, or as the Assistant Concertmaster for the LA Philharmonic. She's the most important addition to the program, as she and I will both consult individually with you. But I will also be bringing in other experts who have helped and inspired me in many areas: business strategy, copywriting, audio/video, and web design, to name a few.
The VMC has always been a mixture of individual support and group feedback. But this time, instead of fixed studios, we'll mix things up with partnerships and smaller teams. It's one thing to learn about video-making from an online tutorial, but it's another thing entirely when you partner up with a teammate to script, shoot, edit, and deliver a video on a topic of your choice... all with feedback from the rest of your VMC colleagues.
What's not changing is my focus on helping you master your instrument. Without that, you'll have neither the ability nor the confidence to help others. And that mastery comes from my proven practice system: Practice Makes Performance. Read more about it further down this page.
Just as the first two Virtuoso Master Courses were limited to 20 and 24 members, this VMC will be a select group of passionate performers and teachers just like you. You'll be able to ask the questions and reveal the insecurities that have held you back, perhaps for years, without fear of judgment. Our VMC community was so vital this spring that I lost count of how many times someone said, "Looking forward to our studio class was all that kept me motivated this week."
"If you're like me and truly passionate and honest about your playing, Nathan is your guy."
Swang Lin, Associate Concertmaster, Fort Worth Symphony
"Since working with Nathan, my playing is much clearer, more precise, and more in tune. When I was in music school, I thought I just wasn't good enough or hadn't practiced enough. Nathan gives you the tools to figure out what's wrong and fix it rather than just playing it through a million times.”
Shirie Leng, Anesthesiologist and Principal Second Violin, Longwood Symphony Orchestra
"I practiced a lot, but I always seemed to get stuck. Now Nathan can help me fix it almost instantly. It's like working with Jascha Heifetz on the violin, with the patience of Mr. Rogers."
Adam Diamond, Software Developer and multi-style violinist
Find out where you are now, and discover where you want to be in 9 months. Our individual sessions let us map your path to the career of your dreams.
I'll put together a daily and weekly routine for you, which we'll revisit each month. I'll always adapt my suggestions to your playing, not the other way around.
Workouts and studio sessions give you the chance to perform for me and your colleagues, whether that means playing or sharing an online project.
Discover how to create and manage websites, shoot and edit videos, write articles and emails, and ultimately share your gifts with a worldwide audience.
Nine 60-minute individual consultations with me or Akiko, focusing on where you need the most support
Early each week, I'll introduce our focus for the week and take you through an hour of live guidance, with chat
Join a small team or just a partner to take your new powers for a test-drive: videos, websites, teaching plans... then return for the full group's feedback
Your high-definition reference library of key right-hand and left-hand techniques and exercises, scales, etudes, excerpts, and more
An expanding library of orchestra audition excerpts, marked with my battle-tested bowings and fingerings
What if I don't have the job/title/credentials to do this?
If you're worried that nobody will want to learn from you because you don't have "that thing", then turn the question around: would you only get help on the violin from someone who went to a particular school? Or had a certain job? Sure, having a title can help establish your authority in the beginning, but it's how you serve your audience that really builds trust. As long as you have the desire to share your gifts, and the willingness to learn to communicate online, I can help you find your voice and reach your people.
What if I don't consider myself a teacher?
Maybe you're not... at least, not the kind of teacher who sits in a studio all day critiquing the Bruch concerto. Or orchestra excerpts. Or Suzuki songs. Those are the boxes we tend to put teachers in, and they're all valid teaching roles. But what if you could lead people in exactly the ways that inspire you? What if you could help them conquer tension in their playing? Or improve their sight-reading? Or manage their own teaching studio? The teaching landscape is wide open.
What if I've already put myself "out there"?
Maybe you've already shared something online, and had a negative experience. Maybe you got no response at all! I've been through that... did you know that every one of my videos still gets "thumbs down" and negative comments? The great thing about being a Virtuoso is that you're in control: of what you share, how you present it, and who you want to interact with. When you stay consistent with those elements, your audience finds you and starts to develop a positive relationship with you.
What if I have zero expertise with technology?
Well, you'll need something more than zero! But you won't need to become any kind of tech wizard. If you write, you'll need to get comfortable editing text. If you make videos, you'll need to get (and learn to use) a camera and a light. But your message is far more important than the exact steps you take to bring it to your audience. The more skills you can bring to the table, the less help you'll need to ask for. But that help is always available, from me, your colleagues, or others. To take full advantage of the VMC, you just need a computer or tablet with a camera and good internet access.
What if I don't have any audience or "followers" yet?
That's what I'm here for! Just like mastering the violin, building and sustaining an audience takes work, so if you haven't done that work already, it lies ahead of you. But the truth is that the work you've already put into the violin or viola will make audience-building seem easy. Keep in mind that when I made my first video ten years ago, I had zero audience, no Facebook or YouTube account, and nobody to email except my wife and my parents. In the VMC, I'll be sharing with you the exact steps I took to build and nourish my audience.
What if I hate self-promotion and the whole "social" thing?
First, let's separate the two. Each has a good side, and an evil side. Self-promotion can mean yelling about yourself from every mountaintop... or it can mean sharing your expertise with those who need it. Social media can mean a time-wasting parade of cat pictures (nothing wrong with cats, by the way) or it can mean the chance to connect with people all over the world who share your passion for what you do. Social media is like scale practice: it seems pointless and evil until you realize what it's really for. Then it becomes an essential part of your toolkit.
I'm excited to announce that for the first time ever, the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Assistant Concertmaster Akiko Tarumoto will join me in leading the VMC!
While I grew up sheltered in the bucolic Kentucky bluegrass, Akiko trained in the rough-and-tumble Juilliard studio of Dorothy DeLay. By the time she was 18, she had absorbed enough violin wisdom for several lifetimes, and decided to take her life in a different direction.
But while she was earning her English degree at Harvard, music called her back, and she rediscovered the joys of great violin playing... and the frustrations of long hours in the practice room!
Akiko is also my wife, and she knows better than anyone what it's like to balance performing, auditioning, teaching, and family life. Her complementary approach will be an essential part of your road map.
To be a true virtuoso, you have to practice what you preach. And that starts when you deepen your knowledge of the instrument, and how your body and mind interact with it.
All of my practicing and performing, and therefore my teaching, are built on a system I call Practice Makes Performance. It consists of three main areas:
More than just "positive thinking", my approach sets expectations for the short term and long term, while ensuring that you make the best use of your time.
Don't just practice "scales and etudes"... know what, how, and why, so that you can build virtuosity step by step, for yourself and those you teach.
Do you repeat a page over and over, or just one line, or one shift? How many times? What happens when you plateau? Advanced practice techniques to the rescue!
"Nathan's encyclopedic knowledge of repertoire is matched only by his encyclopedic knowledge of technical solutions on the instrument. Working with Nathan will transform your playing as it did for me. I look forward to reaping those benefits as I move forward in my career."
Lynn Kuo, Assistant Concertmaster, National Ballet of Canada Orchestra
"Before, I’d spend hours practicing but it wasn't targeted enough to see the kind of improvements that I needed. Nathan helped me focus on the skills I needed to improve the most. He has a special ability to pinpoint and distill the most essential information incredibly clearly."
James McFadden-Talbot, Lousville Orchestra
We'll begin on Monday, September 28, and go until June 6, 2021. That's 36 weeks. During that time, you'll get nine 60-minute individual sessions with me or Akiko, scheduled at your convenience. Early each week, I'll host a live "weekly workout" for the full VMC group. Here I'll introduce a topic from the curriculum: either playing-related, business-related, or a combination. Then, later in the week, I'll host several small-group (studio) sessions where you can share your work from the week. From time to time I will assign you to a partner or an even smaller "breakout" group to work on a special project. All sessions are recorded so that if one doesn't work for your schedule, you can watch later on or even send in your work in advance so that you can get feedback during the session!
Most VMC members have used either their laptops, their tablets, or a simple webcam connected to a desktop. Your internet connection tends to be more important than your video equipment. I recommend either a hard-wired (ethernet) connection when possible, or a location right next to a Wi-Fi router. If you choose to use an external microphone, that will improve your sound quality and can be yours for less than $200. All live sessions use either Zoom or a web browser. All archived course materials live on my website, natesviolin.com, so you will only need a web browser and your login credentials to access them.
You'll keep access to all archived materials, including the video library and your individual and group sessions, forever.
A virtuoso is, in the end, "one who excels at the technique of an art"! Is that what you're after? Me too! We're all on a journey to be the best we can be. How much further could you be on your journey in nine months? With my guidance, I'll bet it's a lot further than you think! All I require is that you have a working knowledge of the basic tools: scales, etudes, bow strokes, daily practice. I'm more interested in where you're going than where you've been.
Unlike some folks who have recently been forced to "transition" online, I've been successfully teaching online for ten years! I wouldn't dream of simply teaching a bunch of Zoom lessons and calling it a program. That's why the VMC is so much more than that. For nine months, you'll spend time with me at least twice a week, getting constant feedback from me, Akiko, and your equally passionate colleagues. I've been at this a long time, and I know how to identify the right candidates for the VMC and how to take you where you want to go.
It's true that $12,000 represents a real financial commitment. And I recognize that now isn't the right time for everyone to make that commitment, even with a monthly payment plan. But if you do want to make real changes in your playing and your career, only you can decide how long you're willing to wait. By next summer, you could already have the pieces in place to get back your investment... and much more. Music schools and conservatories routinely charge in the five figures for a single semester, without giving you the tools to take charge of your own career.
Let's talk about it during our call! Be sure to click the "Book a call" button on this page, so that I can address all of your questions.
It's the only way to get my personalized guidance on your playing and your career. Book a call with me now so that we can talk about where you want to be next summer!
© 2020 Natesviolin LLC