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StringDad

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  1. Quote: I don't recommend anyone to buy a violin for less than $500, regardless its country origin. Those are toys, you are talking about. Please do all of us a favor, don't call them violins. That's just silly. I can recommend more than a few quite serviceable student instruments in and around the $500 price point. While we're most certainly not talking about professional instruments, we're not talking trash either. My own daughter's 3/4 instrument cost around about $500 and she pulls a sound out of it that would knock your socks off. When her teacher plays on it, he does even better.
  2. Yuen, I'm not sure your reasoning holds up. Scientific studies have been done -- and cited here in one of the too many threads on shoulder rest usage -- and they show that use of a bridge-type shoulder rest does NOT inhibit the violin; quite the opposite, in fact. The tiny little hands you refer to amount to much less restrictiveness than would result from placing the violin on the shoulder, or a cushion or whatever. Take it or leave it, as you see fit, but the conventional wisdom that says a rest inhibits tone production is just that -- conventional wisdom.
  3. Austen, I understand and applaud your serious desire for good intonation, but I think your concerns regarding dependency are well placed. I'm no expert, but I believe that you and your instrument are your best tuner; that is, when you have intonation concerns, slow down and check against yourself using open strings and first position notes and your already well-developed ear. When you know what the note should sound like, go back and play again, stopping once again at the note in question and checking it. Don't just adjust and go on. Make sure you play it correctly on a first attempt (and several times) before moving on. This seems like it would be the same as using a tuner, only slower, but honestly it works much better and faster than an external intonation checker -- whether it be a machine or another instrument. If this sounds somewhat basic, well, it is, I guess. But it works.
  4. I'm sure the learned folks on the boards will have some great advice for you, Countryboy. It's amazing, when studying the violin, that making a great breakthrough (bow speed vs. bow pressure) seems to just lead to another host of issues that need resolving. Ah, well. That's the nature of the thing. Regarding the movement of her bow, I got confused with the directions, but if I've got it right it seems possible she might have it the wrong way around, at least according to my daughter's teacher (which, I've learned, is a Galamian-DeLay approach). At the frog, it's acceptable to have the bow hair tilted slightly toward the face and the tip tilted slightly away from the face (bow angled toward the face at the frog he would never accept); moving down bow toward the tip, elbow/hand pushes out slightly to create a vaguely banana shaped path of the hand. Such movement ensures that the bow moves parallel to the bridge at the sounding point -- with no movement of the elbow the tip would begin to angle toward the fingerboard on a downbow. Have you ever checked out violinmasterclass.com? When my daughter's teacher was correcting her bowstroke the recipe was long slow bows on open strings with a metronome from frog to tip watching the sounding point to make sure it doesn't move. He had her do this 15 minutes per day. What am I saying, she still does it every day -- though not quite fifteen minutes. It is important, as you know, to not have the bow flying around. Perhaps go as slow as necessary to ensure proper bow control and then gradually build up the speed. As for the fingers migrating, what my daughter's teacher did was sort of extreme, so you'd definitely have to run it by her teacher. He took one of her hair scrunchies, or whatever they're called, those things that they make pony tails with, and basically pushed it through the frog and slipped the two ends over the back of the bow to create an x-shape over the eye of the frog; in the top of the x, he had her insert her third finger (one next to pinky) and the pinky found a spot where it normally would. He kept it on for months and months, and I would say it helped to create a supple wrist and fingers that didn't migrate. I've never seen anyone else do this, but it seemed to work quite well. I know he did it for another student as well, and he's got a lovely bow stroke now. I'm not sure if that helps or not, but best of luck. Stringdad
  5. From what I've seen, the repertoire is the real thing, although some (even Suzuki instructors) take issue with certain of Suzuki's bowings and fingerings. But, as a rule, bowings and fingers are altered by Suzuki instructors -- just as so-called traditional teachers put their own bowings and fingerings in other standard editions. Regarding conservatory entrance, a student who's played ONLY the pieces in the Suzuki books (no standard scale work, no etudes, no theory/ear training, no sight reading)would most likely be inadequately prepared for the rigors of conservatory training (I remember a thread here from a few years ago when a member of the NEC faculty opined on this very issue -- a young woman who believed she was an advanced player because she could play pieces out of the Suzuki books; he had to give her some hard but valuable news about the prep she would need -- which, btw, she didn't take too well, if I recall). However, it's sort of a trick question since, as many have noted, any good suzuki teacher employs the same scale methods/etudes that so-called traditional teachers use. I'm sure any good teacher would ensure that technical work (etudes/scales) worked in tandem with the repertoire being studied. Just my (inexpert) ha'penny.
  6. You might want to take a look at Shirley Givens' "Adventures in Violinland" method. It's by no means the only effective method out there, but it does seem to be geared nicely toward younger children. Adventures in Violinland
  7. Thanks, Lymond. The right hand sure is tricky, that's for sure. And I know well that there are different schools of thought on wrists and elbows. Still, I don't think it would be accurate to describe my daughter's elbow as "ultra-low" or her wrist as "broken" (this second term seems almost pejorative). Actually, I'm curious about this high elbow you're referring to. How high is high? Do you know anyone who uses this technique so I can check it out? I recently watched a DVD of Aaron Rosand and another of Hilary Hahn, and noted that my daughter's elbow is no lower (or higher) than theirs. The technique obviously works for them. I also checked out several performance clips on the violinmasterclass website and found he teaches in ways very much in line with my daughter's teacher (makes sense given the DeLay connection). Also, you probably can't tell from the photo, or maybe it's the angle of the shot, but she holds her violin about as far to the side as possible (she has very long arms), and her thumb is bent. She's never been part of a Suzuki program; her current teacher studied with DeLay at Juilliard, eventually serving as director of her technique classes; so my daughter's lineage, as Steve LeBonne pointed out to me, can be traced back to Galamian, who used a combination of different approaches. Bottom line is that he's my daughter's teacher, he's an amazing violinist by any measure, he's got a way of doing things that works, and I admire him and his teaching enormously. At the same time, it's not as if she's studying in isolation. She attends an intense music school where periodic evaluations by in-school and outside judges ensure nothing untoward is taking place. If this is coming off strident or defensive, I really don't mean to be. I find your comments quite interesting and illustrative of the constant debates that attend so much of the technical aspects of the violin. For instance, the son of a friend of mine recently switched teachers (to get more lesson time), and the new teacher, a young hotshot, announced that virtually everything the little boy had been taught to date had been wrong (why are you holding violin like that, why are you using a shoulder rest, why ....etc.). A few months later, young hotshot exits the picture as young hotshots tend to do, and the little boy goes to third teacher, this one a protege of Oistrakh of all people (yes, she's quite old, but vigorous). She announces upon seeing the boy play that a monstrous crime has been committed, that the previous teacher should have his arms broken, and that the only reason the boy can play at all is because of his native ability. And so it goes. One can't help but wonder what the next teacher will say.
  8. Same here Bryan, although it took me a second to figure out who you were...until I saw your tag line.
  9. Larry, I didn't think you were being flippant, so no worries. I thank you for your thoughtful reply. As for her elbow, I know that there are different schools of thought. My daughter's teacher is very specific about what he wants. When she's at the frog on the E string, he wants her elbow low -- as low as it is in the photo, although maybe it's not terribly clear. In any event, I just took your advice and popped in a DVD I have of Aaron Rosand live at Mills College and carefully watched his bow arm. I am relieved to report that he keeps his right elbow on the e string extremely low. I highly recommend the DVD by the way. He still sounds great. All the best.
  10. Ah! Just read your post, Steve. Just what I was looking for. Thank you.
  11. Well, thank you all for those extremely nice words. My daughter does work awfully hard, and I am quite proud of her. Getting rebuilt from the ground up by a new teacher is serious business -- and it's not over by a long shot. I was just wondering, if it's possible to see in that photo or from my description, how one might label the bow hold from a "school" standpoint -- or indeed, if it is possible to label it at all. I have no idea. I confess this is idle curiosity on my part.
  12. Oh my. Rivendell Fiddler, I got caught up reading this thread and threw my above comment in without thinking that I would become a thread hijacker. Sincere apologies.
  13. Hi folks -- whenever I read posts about bow technique, I'm never exactly sure where my 9-year-old daughter fits in definition-wise -- Russian, Franco-Belgian, whatever. Not that it really matters, but I am vaguely curious, and a little too chicken to ask the teacher. I do know that her teacher (new since September) has altered her bow hold and stroke quite dramatically. Basically, her elbow now tracks at or slightly below the wrist -- at G string it's virtually parallel to the floor, for instance, at E approaching more perpendicular. As she approaches the frog, the elbow drops/bends and moves in toward the body. At the frog at E string, for instance, it's really practically touching the body. Her wrist, he has her bend as it approaches the frog (picture gives an indication); he tells her to sniff her wrist at the frog. Her teacher (a player and teacher I'm quite in awe of incidentally) studied with Delay at Juilliard, so maybe that gives a clue as to technical heritage. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
  14. Austen, I agree with the above posts that some frank conversation is necessary here. The whole episode, as you relate it, is bizarre. Of course, teachers do let students go for a variety of legitimate reasons -- but that you wouldn't get into PYP for political reasons and he's recommending that you leave him as a result...weird. My daughter's teacher, for instance, isn't at all thrilled that she's in an orchestra at all. At best, he's begrudgingly neutral. So I suspect something else at work, but who knows? And that whole "favorite" student thing -- well, if what you say is true, that seems needlessly hurtful on his part. Austen, bottom line, you simply have got to talk with the guy and have him lay it all out clearly, openly...like an adult and a professional. All the best, Sean
  15. Wow. This last-minute cancellation seems to have unleashed a host of issues you have with this teacher. I'm no expert (just a parent of two young musicians) but I agree with the last poster that making lessons fun is a good thing. The question is, I guess, is there meaningful progress being made while all this fun is happening? Does he pay (endless) attention to the fundamentals of posture, violin hold, bow hold, left hand etc.? Is he a stickler for proper intonation? For proper rhythm? Maybe he hasn't introduced scales, etudes and other things yet for a reason. Maybe not. What approach/method, even if it's of his own creation, does he use? He should know where he's heading, and so too should you. The many other things you mention speak to something else that seems critical -- your mounting suspicion that he doesn't know much about or care about playing music, listening to music, or teaching music. If true, these are serious issues. Even if they're not true, you believe they're true, so something's not right somewhere with this situation. I guess the bottom line here is your sense that this teacher just doesn't care. Not a good feeling. For what it's worth, I'd bite the bullet and talk it out. Maybe you'll decide to leave. Maybe he'll convince you that he's got your best interests at heart and you were overstating your case. In either case, you'll have resolved the situation. Best of luck.
  16. For what it's worth, the colle motion, at least as it was taught to my daughter, seems reasonably well represented at violinmasterclass.com: Colle Page Don't know if that helps or not.
  17. Hi. I've developed a completely irrational fascination with the Wilkanowski. I'm not sure, but I think I'm attracted to the fact that he was a Brooklyn violin maker (I'm from Brooklyn). Also, I have absolutely no skills in this area, but I've decided it's a handsome looking instrument as well. Anyone -- any thoughts? Ever played or heard one? Wilkanowski Violin
  18. My 9-year-old recently started 4th grade in a music school here in NYC. It's been a great experience so far, and she's really quite happy. Her new violin teacher is entirely different from the old. It's not just the hugely increased amount of practice required, or the fact that everything suddenly seems so much more....I don't know, sophisticated and rigorous and detailed in approach; he's completely changed her violin hold, head position, posture, and bow stroke (unlike her previous teacher, he advocates a real swan's neck position at the frog, for instance). I believe these changes are for the best. But wow! Has anyone else been through this sort of reworking before?
  19. Wow! How'd you find it? I dipped my toe in -- watched his masterclass on colle. And that little munchkin devouring the Csardas. They certainly didn't skimp on the production values either.
  20. Yeah, it wasn't so much the courdoroy top as it was a kind of almost orange/almost glowing courdoroy -- it seemed attractive at first, and then it just started to grate... that's why I kept going back and opening the case and staring. on the other hand, I might have been persuaded to give a courdoroy Guarneri a go.
  21. Looking at the violin in Nicolo's link, my first immediate and unbidden thought was that it looked like a piece of furniture. Made me uncomfortable. And then I remembered a sort of attractive violin my daughter tried once -- the top reminded me of courdoroy trousers. I kept opening the case during the trial period and staring at it -- trying to convince myself I actually liked the look of it. Didn't keep it. (Tone wasn't there.) What does fate hold in store next?
  22. Yes, Indiana University (Bloomington) is very well known and it also has a pre-college program.
  23. Thanks for the advice, Regis. No, I'm not doing this for my daughter -- who's got an instrument for the moment. This is just me all on my lonesome, thinking (naively) that this buying and selling and restoring of old violins could be fun. I have no doubt everything you say is true, however, and I'll just have to proceed with due caution.
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