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Violin Masterclass: Listening to others play

Finding good editions to perform from


Reasons to Listen to Library Audio Offerings

Listening to famous, and sometimes not-so-famous but nonetheless very good, artists play the repertoire you're working on is an invaluable learning tool. There are many ways you can do that. The UWM Libraries owns 60,000+ LPs, 16,000+ CDs, and subscribes to 3 streaming audio databases that altogether have nearly 3,280,000 tracks.

There should be no reason to use youtube to listen, with the possible exception of a very newly composed work that has not yet been commercially recorded.

As a musician, you should be listening to high quality - i.e. high resolution - recordings. You should be concerned about how the music SOUNDS and how good the performer you're listening to is.

Music on youtube sounds TERRIBLE most of the time.

  • If it's a live performance, the performer may be an undergrad/grad student at another school of music, who is no more accomplished than you.
  • The mic is usually somewhere in the back-of-beyond and all you can really hear is the audience coughing.
  • If it's a 'ripped' track from an LP, the LP is usually in terrible shape and all you can hear is the surface noise of the stylus on the vinyl.
    • The chances are very good that UWM owns that LP, or a CD remaster of it, or a digitized version in one of the online databases that has been remastered...

So why not listen to the 'real' thing? 

For example, here is a low estimate of the number of recordings of Mozart's Violin Concerton no. 3, K. 216, you can listen to just with library resources. CD: 14, LP: 12, NAXOS: 50+, Classical Music Library: 29, TOTAL: a minimum of 105 different recordings of this work... there is likely some overlap, because many of the very well-known recordings have been digitized and are in one of the online databases, but think about that for a minute. Even if 25% of them are duplicates, that's still nearly 80 different performances of the same piece you could listen to!

And if we don't have it, UW System Loan and/or InterLibrary Loan can certainly get you access to better recordings than you'll find on youtube. Yes, you may have to wait a couple of days... but isn't listening to a good recording worth the wait?


Listening Sources

We subscribe to 3 streaming audio databases. These three require that you be a current UWM student/faculty/staff person to access

But there are quite a few others that are free, but way better than youtube. Here are a couple of examples.

  • Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project - which is digitizing (and cleaning up) really early recordings on wax cylinders & other unique format.
  • Magnatune - Specializes in period performers, those using historically informed instruments and techniques. You listen for free, or join and be able to download and share.