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Everything posted by DR. S

  1. Carl, You obviously have not read Mr. Suzuki's book or done much research on the subject. The teachers i know and my own experience have shown me that a higher percentage of students that need to be reparied were the products of traditional teaching rather than Suzuki, but perhaps that is because the Suzuki programs around here have trained teachers and good oversight while any person can hang out a shingle and 'teach' violin in their home. I was the product of the 'traditional' teaching method and at 18 I had to go through two intensive years of repair as I had not been taught how to properly hold a bow, place my fingers down, shift, or even play a scale in tune. You are confusing good or bad teaching with a method. I bet if you query these 'established and competent' teachers futher you will find that they have the same issues with traditionally taught students, it's just that a higher percentage of kids are coming up through Suzuki programs now so it appears to be a Suzuki issue. I bet if they did some statistical studies they'd find that percentage-wise they are having as much or more problems with traditional students AND I would also expect that they will find significant differences in the problems they are having relative to what Suzuki studio they come from (i.e. a good one or a bad one). Read music - fundamentally - at the young ages we are talking about, to translate the notes on the written page to the notes on the instrument.
  2. Suzuki's work is really a fundamental philosphy about how children learn and how they can be taught to play the violin or learn music in general. Some teacher's employ those concepts well and other's do not. Some just take a specific aspect - so do not get the 'holistic' effect of teh entire philosophy; for instance, 'Suzuki' students are supposed to learn to read music integrally with learning to play by ear, both are valuable and as most violinists cannot play by ear it would not be a bad skill set to add to the violinists training, but if kids come out of a studio not being able to read msuic, that is only the fault of the teachers, not of a 'method.' One of the greatest values for a child to learn to play the violin is the amount of physical and mental demands it places on them. Coordination, fine motor skills, and mental focus - any advancement in these adds value to the childs life and raises their chances of success in whatever they chose to do. Being forced to stick with something is also not a bad thing as it teaches something about what it takes to become skilled and hopefully also teaches them that its the hard things in life that give us the greatest sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. I bristle at those who say that this method or that method "just produces a bunch of robots," with obvious disgust. The way I see is is someone came up with a way (be it Suzuki, or Galamian) to teach kids, who may not be musically gifted, at least the physical skills to play the violin proficiently. That is something amazing to me (and community orchestras around the world benefit from their skills). I sincerely doubt any of these methods suppress any musical talent that a student posesses, but it might give someone who is musically talented - but perhaps a little lacking in the phsycial skills - a path to develop the skills needed to express their musicality, I sure wish I had had a Suzuki program to enter when I was 4, with a skilled teacher to show me the correct way to hold a bow and an instrument, but it did not exist here. About forcing kids to practice: to a point and within reason it is good parenting. It is a rare individual who will say, as an adult, "Gee, I wish my parents had not made me practice so much". Quite the opposite for most, my mother reminded me to practice but never made me do it. How I wish she had been more insistant. My kids did not take to it, but while they were taking they had to practice. They were given points at which they were allowed to opt out, but not until after significant time and effort wrere expended. Both regret it today, but also remember that every effort was made to encourage them to stick with it.
  3. Good question. The most successful players I have known, had very methodical practice habits. Slow practice was the foundation of learning a new piece, and these players learned a work to performance level much faster than their peers who learned the work by trying to play through the piece up to tempo from the beginning for get there too soon. A metronome is a required tool. Practicing slow really teaches you to hear the piece - every note - so that when you get up to tempo, even the fast passing tones are in tune. While learning notes first play softly with no vibrato, Then start mapping out you dynamics, accents, style, and bowings and start incorporating this, even into the slow playing. The bowings become a sort of choreography that work in conjunction with fingerings and shifts and vibrato that propels the piece along, much like a dance. It is important to have set bowings, at least for the first few performances. Memorization early in the process is important if you want to play from memory, but you must make sure you have every note down perfectly. Then learn the piece not just up to tempo but above tempo, you want to be comfortable at performance tempo - never perform a work at a tempo that is as fast as you can play it - that is a disaster in the making. A word on shifting. My experience is that the most common mistake made in shifting is that the player tries to make the shift faster than necessary, Always relax to shift, even for a 'large' shift, the distances are not far in an absolute sense. Watch any accomplished player, the shifts are always fluid and steady.
  4. If you are comparing a Vinyl Record Analog System with a Digital CD system, (with the same set of good speakers) the CD system gets you to really good for far less money, but at the high end, the analog system is really quite nice, with, better 'presence' than the digital system. Technically, the sampling rate of a digital system is so high that your ear should not be able to discern, so maybe it is placebo effect, or perhaps just a preference for some other characteristic of the system. I grew up with a fantastic old tube driven Zenith/Heath kit system my Dad built. It was really fine sounding system. The one place where a good digitital system really beats an analog system is in the area of clipping. A suppen crash or spike in volume just can't quite be managed as well. If you have limited funds, spend as much as you can on speakers and go digital for the electronics. Similarly, for recording, - money goes to the microphone. I agree that a good set of speakers can make you feel the bass, but it is not quite the same as being in a really good concert hall with a section of 8-12 Basses, a Tuba, Contrabasson, and Bass Drum all going at it.
  5. Wynton Marsalis has stated several times that for him classical is harder than jazz (and, IMHO, he is the finest classical solo trumpet player ever). As a start and to develop control and accuracy and also have something you can play anywhere for anyone, work on the Bach unaccompanied Sonatas and Partitas. For me I find Bach is the very best music to play to keep ones chops up, for me as a violist is it is the cello suites, which, while I was a professional, I worked on every single day, cycling through them over and over again, yet never ever tiring and always finding some new nuance to explore.
  6. For personal listening the i-pod, i-phone etc can't be beat, but for serious listening a full room high quality stereo system with large speakers is number 2 and number 1 is a concert hall. You got to FEEL the bass through your feet or it isn't real.
  7. I wish! No it will be with piano accompaniment. My Dvorak trio perfromance was cancelled, the pianist had a scheduling conflict and will not be coming to the Seminar at the University ;-( However, my summer just got less stressed. ;-)
  8. Keep watching past the thematic expostition. She gets going with some great improv. Perhaps my admiration for her has to do with her ability to do something I always wished I could do. I tend to respond with admiration rather than envy. I have tried hard to shed my life of negative emotions like envy and jealousy, life's too short for negativity. And besides, anything I failed to achieve is only the result of my own decisions and choices, no one elses.
  9. She is a virtuoso without doubt. Who among us would not be very thirlled to have her technical capabilities. She just adopted a style and a vibrato that most of us find rather strange if not repulsive. On the other hand, does not the Heifetz video, accentuate how amazingly great he was? In mimicking bad playing, he shows his absolute control over his technique.
  10. You guys are crazy. Listen to more of her stuff, She is a legit jazz violinist and a vey good one at that. Lots of improv going on here. You don;t have to sound like Stephan Grapelli to play jazz. Nothing wrong with a good rich tone. By the way I know some people who played with Grapelli, he rehearsed and mapped out his 'improvs' before every performance to the frustration of some guest artists who wanted to truly go out and wing it.
  11. There are way more jobs than indicated here. Those are just the major orchestral jobs in full time orchestras. There are loads of part time orchestras, teaching postitions and gigs to be had. I know lots of peopel who make a living with a single 'full time' position. It takes hustle and connections.
  12. Here are my definitions for the number I will conjure up. First of all, the question was about two subsets of violinists, professional and non-professional. But both are to be of the set of violinists, so by this I assume a certain minimum proficiency is achieved, let's say that would allow them to be a contributing member to a decent community or church orchestra. Professional is someone who makes their living primarily from playing, or playing AND teaching (there are plenty who teach who I would not consider a professional quality player) and, who is good enough to audition for and win a position in a profesional or semi-professional ensemble for which they get paid for their services. Professional not only means 'get's paid, but also has the conotation of some level of proficiency above the average player. Beleive me, I have come across some who have found a way to convince people to pay them for whatever it is they do. Admittedly there is a huge grey area between a professional and a non-professional. I make my living as an engineer, but still make a significant amount of income from musical activites and have training and background equal to most professionals. But for these purposes I do not consider myself a professional. Non-professional is someone who plays regularly, is at least somewhat competent, but primarily plays for enjoyment and participates in community and church orchestras and maybe gets together with other musicians for chamber music evenings etc. I will leave out the person who played, perhaps through high school, but then put the instrument aside with no real intention to play again. They may pick it up from time to time, but really have maintained no significant proficiency, if they ever had any, and never practice, or those unfortunate individuals whose talents just do no include playing a stringed instrument, no matter how badly they wish they could. In this context i doubt it is more than 4:1 non-professional to professional, and I think that is very generous, it could be as low a 1:1. In North Texas there are more profesional orcehtras than community orchestras and the community orchestras have difficutly maintainng their rosters - even with some very strong and vibrant public school programs in the area. and, I think with the way people in society are getting more and more time stressed, that ratio will only shrink.
  13. Hmmm, maybe a violin or viola implant?
  14. Get a GOOD teacher and practice every single day. It's that simple. There is a lot of other advice but all follows this one, no matter how old or what the background.
  15. Uploading music is a bit touchy. Community Orchestras can get around copyright and royalty issues by being allowed to make a limited number for "archive' purposes (wink - wink). But when they start showing up in public domain, you could potentially get in trouble. Especially if it is rented music or a living or recently living Composer (dead less than 70 years last time I checked). Some of the new Royaly laws, that were suppoed to help musicians, but only helped Mel Bay and other large music publishers have made it way more complex than it was. Some arrangers like Mathew Naughtin had to pull a good percentage of their arrangements off the market. My community orchestra posted a performance of Peter Boyer's Ellis island but were almost immediately told to take it down. However, several concertos we accompanied have been on You Tube for several years with no issues.
  16. Life was simpler when there were just Dominats. I've had some costly experiemnts taht turned otu very badly (Eva Pirazzi viola strings). i use Dominant on my viola and Dominant or Enfeld Blues on my violin. Dominant have a definite break in time, but that is their only drawback. Tried a Larson once, liked teh no break in, but the cost was not worth it over Dominant. I second the setiment that I wish they were more like guitar strings. But then Guitars do not have the complex sound and dynamic range of a violin/viola/cello.
  17. DR. S


    In the developed world Penelope, the multitudes are only powerless because the refuse to learn and to think and to get involved. It is easier to just follow and buy the hype put out there for them to consume. It is the same tendencies that makes hiphop 100 times more popular than classical music will ever be. Don't have to engage the neurons.
  18. No that does not compute. I understand those tendencies (I hardely ever use that muste, probably have not used it in 20 years actually). But what I am refering to is that teh instrument sounds damped for a littel while even afer taking the mute off.
  19. I find it takes my instrument a little while to recover after removing the large brass practive mute. Not sure that it in my head or not as I can't really think of any reason for thsi to be the case.
  20. I have a Frank V. Henderson Bow. One of his last bows which he made to my specifications. Fantastic bow.
  21. Pefect technique, Very well taught. Fantastically clean and controlled, but not at all mechanical. The biggest screw up was by the conductor around 8:30 (?) who brought the orchestra in on top of her cadence. Many things can happen to a chikld this age before they reach adulthood. They can be pushed too much and burn out, or life somethimes just takes them in another direction, or they just find other things they enjoy more. Thankful for the medium of Hi def video to preserve these great moments. Anyone know who this girl is, my Chinese (or whatever it is) is a bit nonexistent.
  22. In the most technical sense, Carl, since there are no labels on the graph, you are correct, but I think the intent is quite clear and generally accurate. In context of the conversation, I assume the downward trends in the right hand graph's curve is the stuff we forget before we relearn it and put it in 'permanent' memory. Certainly with playing an instrument (or a sport) we go up and down, but hopefully with a long term upward trend, until of course at some point where we peak, level off and then start to decline.
  23. There are several things to consider here. 1. Learning to play the Violin is one of the most difficlut things you'll ever do. Once learned well, it is actually quite easy, but again, very hard to learn. It takes years and years, expecially for adult beginners. 2. The art of learning is to be able to break things down into small enough pieces so that your brain can truly comprehend. You are frustrated about how long you have been going and the lack of progress. It might actually speed things up to slow down and concentrate on one thing at a time. But deep concentration is required while you practice. 3. Learn the art of practicing. The sound a violin can make can be mesmerizing and beautiful, fully emerse yoruself into really being in the moment when you practice. One should be able to draw open strings for working on all the little adjustments and tweeks to the grip, pressure, speed, without getting bored. I still go back to that from time to time, just to get back to basics and make sure everything is in order. Teh requirement if for concentration and self discipline way beyond anything else you'll ever do, and the benefits of this can spill into everything else that you do if. 4. Connie is correct in that we learn in spits and starts so often we experience a breakthrough just when we think there is no hope.
  24. UPDATE: I am now working on a Dvorak trio for Violin, Cello, and Piano the G minor, Opus 26, for a performance at a seminar at NTU in July and about to get a list of String Quartet pieces for a performance in Nashville in June, which will include a late Mozart Quartet - that will have to be put together with 2-3 days of rehearsal. Also working on Scherzo Tarantella by Wieniawski. Not sure it I can ever get it to a performance level, spent too many years playing off beats on viola while my violinist friends flew over the fingerboard, but It is fun and stretches me. There are no passages in it I can't play, it's just putting it all together and hitting everything the first time through, plus It really needs to be memorized which is one of my biggest weaknesses, I was never made to memorize as a kid. For 2016, I have been asked to play both Mozart violin/viola duets and the Mozart Symphony Concertante (viola on both) with my former teacher in a concert in San Franciso. Still working on the upbow/downbow stacatto.
  25. Put your bent right arm on a table in front of you, flex the musicles and make your hand shake or vibrate. That is the fundamental stiff arm stacatto. The rest is speed and control (thus the varying styles of grip changes - gotta find what works). The limting factor is how fast you can make the hand shake. Rememer the stacatto speed is only half the hand vibration - the fwd or backward part of the motion depending if you are doing upbow or downbow. I don't think many people can do it very fast this way. Using the 'tremolo' method is also difficult because the tremolo has to be twice as fast as the speed of the staccato. So to get the 136 that Heifetz plays Horra Staccato, you have to tremolo or vibrate that hand at 272 up and down motions a minute or 4.5 per second. Sounds do-able, but I can't quite get there with control and bite. I worry about tendonitis with the tension method, but it seems to be the method most have success with.