A violinist aims to turn practicing into an opportunity for community—via videos and an app

Posted on: November 4, 2021

Ray Chen’s “horses like violin playing” YouTube video has received more than 12 million views since it was posted in 2019.

“Ray Chen, 32, will perform [Tchaikovsky’s] Violin Concerto with the Seattle Symphony Nov. 4, 6 and 7,” writes Gavin Borchert in Tuesday’s (11/2) Seattle Times. “What has set his career apart is his devotion to technology and social media…. Chen’s online presence is varied and extensive, its centerpiece his dozens of YouTube videos—from behind-the-scenes clips and chats with colleagues to master classes that encourage interaction…. This spirit of interaction has even led to a new project: Pocket Conservatory, an app developed … with musician/engineer Rose Xi … during the pandemic sabbatical year…. Chen and Xi realized that fostering a classical-music community meant building not only a listening/ticket-buying base but a fellowship of participants. ‘We started chatting about … a future where social media might be built around interests rather than idols,’ Chen said…. Glamour may be part of the attraction of any performing art, but it also creates a distancing mystique. Seeing the hard work behind a performance can make it more relatable, less exotic and less intimidating [by] ‘making practice social, and bridging the gap between practice and performance.’ …Pocket Conservatory [is] an innovative rethinking of the concept of practice, turning this formerly lonely pursuit … into an opportunity for community.”