Sign in to follow this  
Mark_W

Violin teachers--bunker mentality?

Recommended Posts

I notice that Maestro Redrobe contented himself with a monosyllable in the discussion about wrist vibrato, and it's not the first time. The reason must be complete frustration with the squirming tangle of splinter groups and schools of teaching in which every person simply MUST be right. Erick Friedman is, I've heard, impatient with the idea of wrist vibrato--if I understand rightly, he doesn't accept it as such. May we not hear the reasons without a dogfight erupting? Why is the teaching of violin such a pitched battle between the various schools?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am probably sticking my nose where I shouldn't, but as neither a professional, nor as a teacher or anything, I certainly have objectively seen certain things over the few years that I've been on Maestronet.

I've noticed that when Maestro's and professionals join, they are ever so enthusiastic about sharing their knowledge, and as time passes, that enthusiasm fizzles... So I don't credit that with "schools of teaching", but rather, something in common that is provoking that reaction to many different teachers from many different schools of thoughts.

There are many players of many different levels on this forum, so we each answer to the most our capabilities allow (and yes, I say capabilities, because I do not believe one can "imagine" a technique on violin if one has not studied it, digested it and experimented it - and I also believe that the more one learns, the more one realizes how much there is to learn).

When I look back at previous posts, I am sometimes astounded at the rapidity of the answers posted (regardless of ones abilities), and in that rapidity of answers posted, I am astounded that one can try out a new technique within seconds and already give an answer. As a slow learner, it takes me at least two - three weeks to be able to work on a new technique and then be able to give a half-sorted type of opinion - but then again, I have started the adult as a violin...

On another note, I must say that whenever I have contacted privately with any of the professional teachers on Maestronet, they have always given me an explicit, detailed explanation to my question, and some have even "shown" vía different Internet mediums...

I think the question you should be asking here is not about Violin teachers--bunker mentality, but about all of us who (maybe with bunker mentalities) sometimes judge and answer too quickly without having really investigated and understood the explanations.

Just my opinion...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"I have started the adult as a violin..."

That would take even more time.

Seriously, I would like to see the poster define the term 'bunker mentality.' I have managers where I work, who, being frustrated graphic designers themselves, are quick to tout a new term when they hear it: "Oh that ad is terrible. Look at those images, they are so 'pixelated." Of course the managers do not know the meaning of the word 'pixelated' but it sounds good to them so they use it. I suspect the term 'bunker mentality' is being used awash here.

There is always the possibility of 'bunker perception.' If Mr. Redrobe chooses to give a one word answer to a question, then you can be assured that that one word precisely answers the question.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ondina, thanks for illuminating my perception that assistance is more apt to be warmly offered and likewise accepted out of the public eye.

Stephen, if that is exactly what you meant, I must accept it. I suspect you could have said a good deal more about wrist vibrato, but after all we're not your paying students.

Ken, I will not venture into equivocations about the meaning of the term. I accept its generalized meaning, in that I've observed a pattern in which one encounters the kind of silence that follows an argument, wherein the warring parties have retreated to their respective positions, from which they will not budge.

Mark_W

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Like Ken, I would like to know what's meant by "bunker mentality". Though I've assisted many students in acquiring nice vibratos, I've conditioned myself to avoid reading Maestronet threads asking for advice on specific techniques.

I formerly offered essays on such topics, and have since come to the belief that my hours of effort counted for less than what would have been gained from five minutes of good lesson time. Maybe I'd feel differently if I seriously entertained the notion that my verbosiola would be read by thousands, and thus gain the likelihood of reaching the few people to whom it might be suited. I now see little value in the pursuit, since numerous authors more knowledgeable than I have already produced excellent documents, which are readily available to the receptive.

Call it a "bunker" if you want, but my studio door opens easily, and lots of people go through it every day.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

PS to Mark W.: Nothing in your profile indicates whether you would or would not know that March is the height of the season in the US for adjudicated music festivals. I'm almost too busy to look at the board, and teachers who lead complex personal lives are utterly too busy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree completely. If I were a teacher I would feel very little temptation to write long online essays about matters that just can't be effectively conveyed in that format. I often wonder why the people who seem to expect such long-winded explanations don't simply 1) go ahead and try various things in their own practicing, to find out what works for them (which I myself do all the time), and/or 2) find a good teacher.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In fact, there is really only one option: find a good teacher. A completely self-taught player will never, ever learn how to use to bow to produce a real violin sound. You need to hear and see how it's done, up close and personal, over an extended period of time. Without that, no matter how much left-hand dexterity you may develop, you will never have a real sound.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with that too. While I don't currently take lessons (a situation I'm thinking about rectifying soon), I would never have reached even the stage of modest competence I'm at without the training I received in the past. (And I get a lot of good free "teaching" by attending my daughter's lessons, as well.) My mind constantly boggles at the idea of people trying to teach themselves to play the violin based on stuff they read on the Internet.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have created a misunderstanding here, for which I apologize to the teachers present.

I have not (lately) been mining Maestronet for playing advice, as I haven't been playing for about a year. I do hope to return to it, but it will be a long time before I have any use for the distinction between various types of vibrato. My question was more academic in nature: Why the violin is famed for disputes among the various schools. I know of no other orchestral instrument so cursed. I misinterpreted Stephen's shortness to be an example, and I apologize to him for it.

Mark

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm sorry, but this is just a bit too dogmatic. It's like saying that a person can't possibly have a good singing voice unless they have had voice lessons. And we know that simply isn't true. Likewise here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Your analogy is flawed. First, great singing voices are bestowed by Ma Nature. That is certainly not true of a violin sound. Moreover, the number of fine singers who have been able to make careers for themselves without careful training is either zero or 1 (depending on whether you believe the stories propagated by the press agent of the late Ezio Pinza).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In response to:

"A completely self-taught player will never, ever learn how to use to bow to produce a real violin sound."

I suspect that by the judgement of others, there are at least a few self-taught violinists around who sound quite good (and may even browse this forum). True, these people may not aspire to play at the top of the classical heap. But that's not the only way to produce a "real violin sound".

Basically, all I really object to is your use of the phrase "never, ever" which is logically and rationally unsupportable.

Have a nice day.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One of the great British violinists of the early 20th Century, Albert Sammons, was reputed to be self taught and if my memory dosn't fail me, the Strad carried an article a year or so ago about an English Violist (pre-WW2) who took his first lesson after having taught himself and already having started work in an Orchestra (the CBSO I think). His chosen teacher, a famous violist of the time, asked him to play, walked round him, watching from every angle, and eventually said "well! you make a lovely sound, but I'm dammed if I can see how".

Rob

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"A completely self-taught player will never, ever learn how to use to bow to produce a real violin sound."

But they might be able to produce a (very) enjoyable signature sound/voice. For me thats worth more that being able to play the Brahms like thousands before me.

I have no aspirations to become a pro. I prefer to be an amateur. But when an old bandmate comes up to me after 4 years and says: 'I heard a singing tone coming out of this bar, and I immediatly realized it was you. You want a beer?' Thats worth more than gold!

And if you use your ears and not your teacher, you might learn things that are not discussed during lessons!!

Ofcource, I'm self-taught in many fields of music, and thats the way I love to discover the magical world of music & sound. I do not want to show disrespect for any of you or any method in excistance, couse we're all drawn into this world for the love of music.

But its an art!!!! Breaking rules is almost a rule! But show respect for the history of the instrument, players & methods!

Thats of my chest!!!! I do not like snobbisch remarks!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What on earth are you talking about? It's certainly equally true of the voice that training is absolutely needed, assuming we're talking about an artistic level of operatic or lieder singing, not pop crooning.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

First of all, Sammons was a genius; I don't think most of the Maestronetters trying to learn the violin without a teacher are geniuses, do you? Second, it is a myth that he was completely, or even almost completely, self-taught. It took me about one minute to find the following information online: "The son and grandson of shoemakers, Albert Sammons was born in London on 23rd February 1886 and from the age of seven was taught the rudiments of violin playing by his father and elder brother. Later he had about thirty lessons from two Ysaye pupils, Alfredo Fernandez and Frederick Weist-Hill, and from John Saunders, a pupil of Bernhard Molique." He also learned a lot from older players with whom he performed in orchestras; formal lessons are not the only way to do it, but personal contact with and observation of competent players is, as K544 has stressed, absolutely essential.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In response to:

"What on earth are you talking about? It's certainly equally true of the voice that training is absolutely needed, assuming we're talking about an artistic level of operatic or lieder singing, not pop crooning."

I don't disagree. But that's not quite what I was addressing. The expression "good singing voice" can apply as well to Billie Holiday in her prime as it can to Renée Fleming in hers. But, I assume that you and K544 are talking about classical playing.

But even so, in my opinion the view expressed is a little too unbalanced. There are those of us like myself and Thevi Olin who have played other musical instruments in the past and for whom the violin was de-mystified. So we had no problem learning to play it independently (I'm not completely there yet but I'm working on it and hope to be for quite a while!)

Unfortunately, a narrow dogmatic expression of what is necessary to play the violin discourages others from trying and perpetuates the mysical view that the violin is somehow above and beyond the skills of ordinary peopole - a view, I believe, that actually hurts classical music by discouraging interest.

Good teachers can certainly help. But it's not the ONLY way.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Billie Holliday didn't become a great singer by reading instructions on how to be a jazz singer; she couldn't have become Billie Holliday without the influence of the musicians she hung around with and performed with. There just isn't any substitute for that. That's the only point that both K544 and I are trying to make. People of course are free to delude themselves as much as they wish.

P.S. Just how does recommending that someone find a teacher convey the idea that playing the violin is above and beyond the ability of ordinary people? Quite a colossal non-sequitur, that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is no mysticism involved. It's all quite mechanical: how the bow moves, how it is positioned relative to the bridge, how it is weighted, and so forth, is all very mechanical stuff. But it is subtle mechanical stuff and there is a lot of it. So much, in fact, that the only efficient way to get it is by standing next to a really good player/teacher for an extended period of time for monkey-see, monkey-do sessions.

You can't get it from recordings, and you can't get it from familiarity with other instruments. I know that for a fact. Once upon a time I was a very accomplished oboe player. I gave it up for the viola, and later the violin, as an adult. It took me years to really get the feel of how the bow makes sound, and to produce a singing, vibrant sound on the violin and viola.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Good teachers can certainly help. But it's not the ONLY way."

of course it is.

i picked up golf on my own. i have never had a lesson in my life. sometimes i do okay, sometimes i don't. i'm sure i have a very unique, individual swing. that is, a unique, clumsy swing. i'd give up my unique, individual swing for a generic, tried-and-true swing in a second if it would lower my handicap. to me, your comment about having a self-taught, individual "singing voice" rings somewhat hollow.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.