FREE 3-DAY EVENT, March 22-24

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday

8-9:30am Pacific

Piece it Together:

A composer's workshop for violinists

When you write the music, you set the standard. Go from "one-line player" to true creator by following in the footsteps of Paganini, Ysaye, and Kreisler... even if you've never written a bar of music!

Nathan Cole, violin


LA Philharmonic, Colburn Conservatory

For over 20 years, Nathan's online teaching has transformed the playing of violinists everywhere. He tests and refines his methods on the world's stages as concertmaster, soloist, and chamber musician.

MARCH 22-24 at 8 AM PST/11 AM EST


Have you ever played your own music?

If you haven’t, I’m not surprised. Most violinists today have never written a single bar of music. And why should we? We’ve been taught that composers create, and performers re-create.

But the more you aim for perfection in the standard repertoire, the harder it gets to hit your target. That’s because you’re competing with the ghosts of past virtuosi like Paganini, Wieniawski, Ysaye, Sarasate, Kreisler, and Milstein.

But these creator-performers weren’t only concerned with their legacies; they wanted to stand out in their own time. And their pieces were their calling cards.

Judge for yourself

You don’t have to take my word for it: listen to Kreisler playing Liebesleid, or Milstein playing Paganiniana, and you understand why none of their peers dared record these pieces while their creators were still in their primes.

Set the standard

It comes down to this: when you write the music, you set the standard. And in my 3-day workshop, “Piece it Together”, I'll help you do just that... even if you've never written a bar of music before.

Take it with you

At the end of our time together, you’ll have two of your own pieces to take with you, based on Mozart and Bach. You’ll also walk away with insights that will enhance your preparation and performance of every piece of music!

Nathan is incredulous

Just another page?

I was 16, and just about to take the stage for the finals of a national competition. But suddenly the head of the jury appeared backstage with a question for me:

“What cadenza are you playing for the Mozart?”

I stared at him blankly for what seemed like ten minutes before giving the only answer I could:

“I don’t know.”

“You don’t know what you’re going to play, or you don’t know who wrote it?” he asked with a sneer.

I couldn’t believe it myself! I had spent months preparing my Mozart concerto and its cadenza, written by the illustrious 19th-century virtuoso, Joseph Joachim. But I’d never bothered to look up at the corner of the cadenza page to see his name. To me, it had been just another page of music I had to learn.

I didn’t win any prizes that day...

What was I waiting for?

In the years since, I’ve performed and auditioned with that same Mozart concerto countless times, always preparing the Joachim cadenza. Finally, I decided that enough was enough. If Joachim could write a cadenza, why couldn’t I?

But still I put it off. It was easier to stick with the tried-and-true. I didn’t know how to begin. I didn’t have any training as a composer. Who did I think I was, anyway? Fritz Kreisler?

Well, this winter, I finally did it. And I can’t believe I waited so long.

Not only was the process a lot of fun, it gave me much deeper insight into Mozart’s concerto than I could have gotten any other way. And practicing my own cadenza never seemed like a chore; in fact, I kept going long into the night, working out transitions, changing this chord to that, cutting and replacing sections if I found something that worked better.

Creating, not just re-creating

In short, I took ownership of my music in a way that I’d never experienced before. And I realized that that sense of ownership didn’t stop at the end of my cadenza. I found myself preparing the rest of my repertoire with the same attitude: that of a creator, not just a re-creator.

Sharing the feeling

That’s why I decided to host Piece it Together. I’m not looking for you to put down your violin and spend years studying composition. But I do want you to feel that same rush I did, as I practiced and performed my own music for the first time.

Here's what's you'll get:

We're going to get right down to business in Piece it Together. Here's what you can expect:



Don't forget this important step... take care of it right now! Cick any of the buttons on this page to save your spot, and to let me know where to send your registration packet. You'll want to mark these up at our event, so feel free to load them onto a tablet with a stylus, or print them out for an "old-fashioned" writing experience.


Take a peek

Open your packet, and you'll see that the first part is devoted to Mozart, specifically the first movement of his 4th Violin Concerto in D. You'll find Joseph Joachim's well-known cadenza, as well as mine. I also share with you my cadenza sketches, so that you can get a sense of my writing process and adapt it to suit your style. Later you'll find Bach's b minor Partita, which we'll use as inspiration for another original piece.



We'll begin by setting goals for the workshop: the two pieces you'll have outlined when we're done (inspired by Mozart and Bach), as well as your deepened understanding of the writing process. Then we'll spend time with our special guest, composer Joseph Sowa, and learn how Bach moves harmonically through his b minor Partita. Joseph will help us begin work on our own Double or "Triple".



We'll begin by sharing some of your ideas from your Bach pieces. Next, we'll look at two Mozart cadenzas: Joachim's and my own, and learn how I wrote mine (and make some educated guesses about how he wrote his). Then you'll draft your own using my process. We'll close by applying our harmonic knowledge from yesterday's Bach to our Mozart cadenzas.



We'll begin by sharing some of your Mozart in progress, as well as more of your Bach dances. Next we'll take a look at violin pieces by Wieniawski and Elgar (two more composer-performers). You'll be amazed at the deeper level of understanding you now have for this music, whether or not the tunes are already familiar to you. We'll close with a look at the exciting spring quarter of my program, Daily Virtuoso, where you'll have the opportunity to continue exploring and refining Bach, Wieniawski, and Elgar with my guidance.

Special guest: Joseph Sowa

Founder of the Wizarding School for Composers, Joseph Sowa draws on diverse influences — from linguistics to plainchant to American football — to create music focused on detailed textures and vivid colors.

His music has been performed by professionals and amateurs alike, including groups such as the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble Dal Niente, the PRISM Quartet, Hub New Music, Collage New Music, the Genesis Chamber Singers, and middle and high schools across North America.

He has received awards from ASCAP, the American Prize, and the Barlow Endowment and holds a PhD in Music Composition and Theory from Brandeis University.

Joseph Sowa

Imagine the possibilities

In Piece it Together, I'll share with you my exact process for writing my own Mozart cadenza!

Is Piece it Together for me?

Eyeglasses and music

If you’re a violinist who has never written or performed your own music, it’s for you.

If you’ve done a bit of improvising, some “messing around” with making things up, some arranging, it’s for you too.

In fact, even if you’re comfortable composing but want to feel like you “own” your music to a greater degree as a performer, Piece it Together is for you.

My aim for you after our three days together is to increase your awareness of how your favorite music is put together, so that you can feel confident shaping and performing it exactly the way you dream.

And the best way to do that is to create new music for yourself. I’ll help you do it by taking inspiration from the work of Mozart and Bach.

By the way, did you know that Mozart copied out Bach’s music by hand to familiarize himself with Bach’s process? He then went on to compose and perform his own violin and keyboard concertos, improvising cadenzas along the way.

If that kind of comfort with your instrument sounds unattainable, all I can say is: you’ll never know unless you take the first step. Register for Piece it Together just below: