The Virtuoso Master Course


In my studio, you're never alone.

Are you ready to take your playing

to the next level? It's time to step out of the practice room and

into the VMC

The "self-made" violinist is a myth.

In the popular imagination, violinists spend their childhoods locked in practice rooms, toiling away while their friends play ball. Most won't "make it" because they lack talent or drive.

But a select few rise above the rest. Their gifts can't be explained. Their teachers are only there to "inspire" them. And after countless hours of solo work, they burst fully-formed onto the concert stage.

That's what the general public thinks. And sadly, we've bought into the myth too.

Like all popular myths, the self-made artist endures because it contains elements of truth. It does take a ton of hard work to reach the highest levels of violin or viola artistry. And much of that work takes place out of the public eye, often alone in a practice room.

But when you look more closely at the origin stories of the great soloists, you'll see not individuals but teams: parents (Mozart, Paganini, Heifetz); teachers (everyone); even entire studios.

The legendary Nathan Milstein wrote glowingly about his time as a youngster in the Petersburg class of Leopold Auer, alongside Heifetz:

"Recalling those days, I can say once again that I truly came to love the violin in Petersburg. I liked going to the conservatory, and I liked the atmosphere of competition in Auer's class – talented children playing the violin, one better than the next, inspiring me to try harder."

He continues: "...I would recall with pleasure my lessons with Auer, the conversation at the conservatory, and the whole lovely day. And the next day promised to be just as beautiful."

In our world, the life Milstein describes is only available to children who are born on, and stay on, a very narrow track. Once you veer off, you're on your own.

Until now.

I'm Nathan, and I welcome you to the Virtuoso Master Course.


Follow in the footsteps of the best.

If you see yourself as fundamentally different from the best players, you won't see the need to take the same steps they did. You'll keep waiting for things to change...waiting for more practice hours to appear; waiting for your head to clear and find the proper mindset.

Why wait? Start right now by doing what the best players have always done: drawing knowledge and inspiration from direct contact with master players and dedicated peers.

I had a conversation with James Ehnes once about the importance of feedback, and he said, "You're lucky: you're married to one of the great players!" Indeed I am (more on Akiko below)... And her inspiration begins when my energy and knowledge run out.

And what's good for me is good for you too. When you join the VMC, here are the key strengths you'll draw from your fellow participants:


My learning didn't stop at conservatory. I've made some of my greatest strides after asking the question, "What if what I've always believed simply isn't true?"


Many technical problems on the violin and viola have simple solutions. They may require dedication and repetition to put into practice, but I can give you the tools and processes, based on my decades of experience on the stage, in the practice room, and from both sides of the audition screen.


In the VMC, you're part of not just a studio, but a team. Director of Operations Kate Reddish and I work closely with you to develop a personalized plan for your year, based on your own goals. Then we (and the rest of the VMC) help you stay on target through a mix of individual, small-group, and studio time.

This week's virtuoso spotlight

"There was just so much possibility and they gave me a place to dream, and it felt unreal to me. I honestly felt like, 'is this happening? Is this real?' And I said that for five months! There is something so special about the way that Kate and Nathan come together to create not just a program that over-delivers in every way, but also as they create a feeling of safety, they create a sense of community."

- Chrystal Smothers, freelance violinist, educator, and entrepreneur, Tempe, AZ

About Nathan

I'm Nathan Cole, First Associate Concertmaster of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and for the past twenty 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.

Nathan Cole, violin

You've found your studio.

I've led more than 70 violinists and violists through four Virtuoso Master Courses over the years. You'll hear from them further down this page; they've accomplished some amazing things during our time together!

In fact, around one third of each course's participants stay on for the next course. A few have even been part of the VMC since the very beginning. And that's because there's no other course like it, whether online or offline:


A year-long journey

When I started the Virtuoso Master Course years ago, I stopped teaching lessons at school and at home. I now devote all my teaching time to the VMC. We'll spend 2023 taking you and your playing to new places. While we'll take a summer break from weekly group meetings and classes (to leave space for travel and festivals), I'll still host monthly meet-ups and help facilitate group projects during those three months. You'll be supported all year long.


Individual attention, unique results

Each of us brings different strengths and weaknesses to our music. Therefore no system could hope to reach everyone equally well. In the VMC, your path will be different from everyone else's because we'll focus on what you need. You'll enjoy a mix of one-on-one sessions with me, goal-setting and follow-through from our Director of Operations Kate Reddish, small group projects, studio classes, and special guests. If we don't have a resource you need, we'll create it!


Virtuoso on Call

Akiko Tarumoto, Assistant Concertmaster of the LA Philharmonic, is already familiar to many of you as co-host of our podcast, Stand Partners for Life. But she's also a deadly audition assassin and your personal "Virtuoso on Call" during the VMC. Just send her a video message when you're stuck on a problem, and she'll respond in kind. Problem solved!


A proven foundation

We may all be different people, but the principles that underlie successful violin and viola playing stay true for all of us. If you're missing key pieces of information, you may stay stuck for years on end. To keep you moving forward, I share with you my proven practice system: Practice Makes Performance. With the proper mindset, tools, and techniques, you can move past your difficulties and focus on saying what you want to say through the repertoire you choose.


Your circle of friends

As always, this VMC will be a select group of passionate performers, teachers, and learners just like you, ranging in age from twenties through sixties. You'll be able to ask the questions and reveal the insecurities that have held you back, perhaps for years, without fear of judgment. I've lost count of how many times a participant has told me, "Looking forward to our studio class was all that kept me motivated this week!"


"Nathan's encyclopedic knowledge of repertoire, and that includes solo, chamber, and orchestral repertoire, is matched only by his encyclopedic knowledge of technical solutions on the instrument."

— Lynn Kuo, Assistant Concertmaster, National Ballet of Canada,

Founder, Violin with Dr. Lynn

About Kate

I'm Kate Reddish, the Director of Operations for the Virtuoso Master Course. I work side by side with Nathan through your year in the VMC.

I'm a violist who has performed professionally for over twenty years. I have a two college degrees from UCLA (go Bruins!) and an Artists' Certificate from USC (go Trojans!) – along with plenty of artistic and professional feathers in my cap – but I've always felt like I wanted to learn more about the instrument, music, performing, and myself.

Enter the incomparable Nathan Cole and the Virtuoso Master Course. I was a participant in the first iteration of the VMC and was deeply impacted by Nathan's unique ability to kindly, objectively, and clearly outline what the main issues are with someone's playing. Within just a few weeks, my left hand frame was transformed!

When Nathan announced the second iteration of the VMC, I offered to help him organize all the details and minutiae of the program. He organized my hand frame, and I've organized his courses!

But it’s so much more than organizational skills that I bring to the table. The structure of the course is in service to the brilliance of its content and its creator. The work that Nathan does in the Virtuoso Master Course is transformational, and that work calls for a safe, inclusive, and intentional space to develop and thrive. I create that space.

Kate makes the VMC yours.

Why not have a personalized curriculum, just for you? Kate will be with you every step of the way to support and champion you. Herself an accomplished violist and a graduate of the first iteration of VMC, Kate sees the whole person behind the musician – a quality often missing in music education. She brings her three decades of performing experience – along with all of the physical, emotional, and mental challenges she's faced in those decades – to the table to help you to clarify your vision for our year together and beyond.


Explore your dreams

What are your goals as a musician, performer, artist? Kate has a number of processes to assist you in defining and implementing your goals. Regular check-ins empower you to be in charge of your learning; your curriculum is personalized to explore what is most important to you.


Access your wealth of resources

Kate built the extensive VMC library and knows it better than just about anyone. Once you've mapped out your goals, Kate can direct you to the resources that are most relevant to you. And if there isn't yet a resource applicable to what you want to do, she'll work with Nathan to create one!


Put it into practice

You've got a goal, you've got your resources, now let's get to work! Kate will help you to outline the steps to take in reaching your goals. She works closely with Nathan to keep him in the loop on your projects, goals, and dreams. The whole year that you're working with Nathan, our guest artists, and each other, Kate will be documenting your journey. You'll have someone the provide accountability, structure, and support.


Kate's in your corner

We dream of big transformations, and they definitely happen in the VMC. That doesn't mean the work is easy, and sometimes we wander off the path. Kate is here to support you when things are going well as well as when you're faced with challenges. As your mindset and playing transform, so may your goals – Kate's here to provide a framework for your evolution.


You're not alone on this journey

What Kate does for you as an individual she also does for the whole VMC cohort. She'll be paying attention to your experience and that of your peers, and will infuse the course with new opportunities and resources as the need arises. You'll leave VMC not only with the mindset, tools, and techniques you need to excel at your instrument, but also a network of colleagues and friends from all over the world.

"We are so lucky to have Kate in the VMC. Her warmth and generosity are so palpable, and to have her setting the tone and creating the space – along with Nathan – is a gift. I honestly believe Kate’s presence and contribution to VMC is responsible (just as much as Nathan's fabulous teaching and content) for how much I've enjoyed and benefited from the course."

- Amanda Goodburn, Toronto Symphony

"Kate and Nathan balance each other out wonderfully. Kate is enthusiastic and organized and Nathan is an incredible violinist and diagnoses and remediates accurately and gently. VMC is a wonderful course – it exceeded my expectations!

The cherry on top were the community events. Most were quite meaningful. Sometimes I felt that my life was so different from that of other class members, but in those deep discussions, we seemed to have lots in common."

- Robin C., NJ

"Kate has turned the course into a well-oiled machine making the entire experience seamless: everything from the ease of lesson scheduling, locating video and live stream links on a weekly basis, the organized archival of all video materials, as well as the consistency and professionalism of her correspondence.

And Kate does it all with much love and genuine support! Kate is brilliant and is a huge asset to the Virtuoso Master Course!”

- Lynn Kuo, National Ballet of Canada

"The VMC is a life-changing experience."

— Zach Brock, Grammy Award-winning solo jazz artist,

touring member of Snarky Puppy

Here's what you get in the VMC


Six 60-minute individual consultations with me plus three 90-minute mini-VIPs, focusing on where you need the most support.

Nathan Cole chess


I'll introduce our focus for the week and take you through an hour of live guidance, with chat. Also access all past workouts!

Nathan studio


Your weekly chance to play for me and offer and on camera. Each month we'll also welcome a different special guest.


You'll meet three times during the year with Kate to review your goals, track your progress, and discover how you can get the most out of your VMC experience.



Your high-definition reference library of key right-hand and left-hand techniques and exercises, scales, etudes, excerpts, workouts, and more.

Akiko Tarumoto


Let Akiko help you past those thorny problems that are bound to come up... she's only a video message away!

Special Guest Classes

Deepen your learning and and expand your horizons with our monthly Special Topics Classes and Guest Master Classes.

For the Special Topics Classes, Nathan has leading experts in a variety of topics come to lead workshops, lectures, and practicum on topics like improvisation, performance anxiety, Baroque dance styles, business development, and body mapping.

In the Guest Masterclass series, Nathan invites elite performing violinists and violists to lead a two hour master class. Guests have included James Ehnes, Augustin Hadelich, Kerson Leong, and more!

John Adams on Composing

A Master Class with Kim Kashkashian


Jennifer Johnson on Body Mapping

A sneak peek

Inside the VMC you'll find hundreds of hours of exclusive video tutorials that you won't see on YouTube or anywhere else! Take a look at this lesson on a critical Kreutzer etude, #8:

"I'm the person who's doing the least exciting things in class: “Wow, you played Schradieck and Sevcik, how nice.” But for me it’s a real value for the dollar. It’s like I have a whole new foundation on my house. I will take that!"

- Jess Ingrassellino, Software Developer, NJ

"Thanks to Nathan and the VMC, I know that I can solve things. And if I can’t right now, I know I can get there, maybe in a few months I can get there. So it makes me stronger and I can thrive. It’s really a good place."

- Laura Corolla, Baroque violinist, Paris

Practice doesn't make perfect.... it makes performance.

To be a true virtuoso, you have to master your instrument, and how your body and mind interact with it to bring music to life.

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!

About Akiko

The Los Angeles Philharmonic's Assistant Concertmaster, Akiko Tarumoto, is the VMC's Virtuoso on Call!

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.

Akiko Tarumoto, violin

The VMC is limited to a small group of passionate violinists and violists

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 a year from now!

"We often make sports analogies in our field, but one cue that we musicians seem to have missed is the fact that sports professionals have coaches for the entirety of their careers.

"Nathan’s Virtuoso Master Course was my opportunity, at my age and stage, to try that on. And it turns out that the athletes are on to something! An entire season spent in the midst of a such a brilliant violinist and pedagogue yielded countless fresh ideas for both my teaching and playing that have added up into something radically – and transformationally – better."

Rebecca McFaul, Fry Street Quartet and Utah State University


What are the dates of the VMC, and what's the format?

We'll begin the final week of January 2023, and go until just before the December holidays. For three months during the summer, we'll suspend group activities except for a monthly meetup. During 2023, you'll get six 60-minute individual sessions with me plus three 90-minute "mini-VIP sessions" which are shared with two other participants. All are scheduled at our mutual 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 and take you through a fun and challenging hour of practice focused on it. Then, later in the week, I'll host a two-hour studio session where you can share your work from the week. From time to time Kate and I may assign you to a partner or a small "breakout" group to work on a special project. All individual and group sessions are recorded so that you can watch later on or even send in your work in advance so that you can get feedback during the session!

What equipment/technology do I need?

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,, so you will only need a web browser and your login credentials to access them.

What about timezones? Will I really be able to participate?

It's true, Kate and I are both on the west coast of the United States. And my Los Angeles Philharmonic schedule dictates that, in general, classes are scheduled between 9am and 4pm Pacific Time. In this most recent iteration of VMC, there were participants from Kuala Lumpur, Berlin, Auckland, New Orleans, Phoenix, London, Boston, and Paris, among others. I wish there were some magical way for the classes to be at the ideal time for every single participant! We do make every effort to accommodate everyones' schedules, and every live session is recorded and available to you forever (which is its own kind of magic).

Wait, so what's the schedule?

The schedule tends to change week to week. In general, we have our Weekly Workout on Monday or Tuesday. This is a live broadcast on Vimeo in which I delve deeply into the topic of the week. Studio Classes are usually scheduled for later in the week, on Friday or possibly on the weekends. Guest sessions are scheduled at the most convenient for our guests. Events are scheduled at least a month in advance and published on a communal online calendar, so you have time to plan your weeks in advance.

How long do I have access to the course materials?

You'll keep access to all archived materials, including the video library and your individual and group sessions, forever.

I don't think of myself as a virtuoso... Am I at the right level?

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 a year? 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.

Online lessons are a poor substitute for "real" lessons. Will this program really give me great results?

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. In the active months of the VMC, 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.

How much does the course cost?

The Virtuoso Master Course is $15,000, which can be paid in full prior to the course starting in late January. Alternatively, you can opt to spread your tuition payments out over the year in twelve monthly installments of $1,375, for a total of $16,500. A deposit reserves your place, once I accept your application.

That's a lot of money...

It's true that $15,000 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 the end of 2023, 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.

I have a different question or concern...

Let's talk about it on a call! Be sure to click the button on this page to start your application, so that we can move forward and I can address all of your questions.

More participant spotlights

"I've been playing violin for a long time and I feel like I can pretty much do it, but every now and again, there's something that just blocks me. I brought it up with Nathan in one of our sessions. I said, 'help me with my shifts, please, Nathan.' And I cannot tell you, this was the most amazing lesson of my life. I have been told most of my life that my shifting needs a little bit of work, but it wasn't until that lesson that something really clicked and I felt like I actually have something that I can tangibly do to improve this. So that was the most exciting lesson."

-Katie Betts, violin, Queensland Symphony Orchestra

"Working with Nathan has really changed my outlook on practicing. By taking the emotion out of it, instead of thinking, 'oh, I'm so stupid, why can't I do this?' I think, 'oh, that's interesting. What can I do to change that?'”

— Aja Majkrzak, freelance violinist and educator

"Nathan is that he represents all of the finest qualities that we would like to think of ourselves and our teachers. And those are patience and kindness and a genuine, authentic concern for individual development and growth. And you can't ask for a kinder person, the Nathan and his experience as a teacher, his experience as a performer. And of course Kate can run the country and she is so committed to everyone having an incredible experience."

- Carla Durney, Vice Chair / Vice President, Suzuki Association of the Greater Washington Area

The VMC is limited to a small group of passionate violinists and violists

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 a year from now!