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Technology Employed In Teaching Violin


Ken Nielsen
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On technology employed in violin training, I came up with the following thoughts:

1. use a computer to "slow down" difficult passages for students playing Suzuki (I think they mostly are played too fast to start.)

2. Burn the student a 'slowed down' version of the piece they are working on on CD at the lesson.

3, Use a digital video camera to capture a student's performance for self-examination (like standing in front of a mirror) and burn it onto DVD for the student's home viewing.

3. Give the student the recording of the entire lesson, at the end of the lesson, burnt onto CD. Then, the student can reference and examine for correctness, any point in the lesson. Very reinforcing I think.

4. Carried a step further, Digital caricatures are sometimes made by attaching sensors to those people who are doing the dance or the movements needed. Maybe have overlayed images of various players for movement and style for comparison - like they do with golf videos.

5. Use split-screen digital video to show comparisons of a students progress year to year or even side by side with some good example of proper posture.

All of these, intended to increase focus and attention to detail and the basics of good playing.

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It sounds good to me, Ken--just a LOT of work for a teacher with a large studio!

When I was a student, my teacher very formally tape-recorded each finished piece. Now, my kids' teachers videotape their recital performances. This has been quite valuable.....My oldest daughter practices along with her favorite recording of a piece. Interestingly, her final interpretation usually has little in common with that of the artist she has played along with. She practices methodically with both metronome and tuner--yet she never sounds mechanical. And, though he doesn't record her lessons, her teacher makes weekly lesson notes in a notebook to guide the next week's work. These are all just tools to assist her--not as sophisticated as what you suggest, but similar in purpose.

People who propose that technology doesn't belong in the realm of music seem to forget that musical instruments are technology themselves, as much as pencils and paper or computers and printers. (Mozart was clearly enthralled by the ultra high-tech clarinet, and Beethoven seemed to find the metronome to be just about the greatest invention since, well, the klavier!)

J.

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Whoa Ken....you sound like a major gadget man I would LOVE all this stuff in my lessons! My teacher sounds primitive compared to this. Something that helps me with my Suzuki lessons and intonation is to listen to myself playing along with the piano accompaniment of the Suzuki tunes. I just used some MIDI files of the Suzuki accompaniment from a web page I found. I don't want to post it here without the permission of the owner of the page, but if you PM me I will send you the address where you can find those Suzuki MIDI files.

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Yes, I am fascinated by gadgets. They don't always pay back in results for what effort is required in employing them, but how would I know unless I gave it a try. Slowing down the Suzuki CD's is the major help, along with being able to 'clip' passages and play along with them slowly, over and over, in a looped fashion.

Here's another cool feature of two of the software programs I am using: They can 'strip' out the lead performer and leave you with all of this lovely first class symphony music that you can fill in and play along with as guest performer and star. That's right, you can strip out Hilary Hahn and be left with, Karaoke style, YOU as the lead.

Thanks for mentioning Suzuki is available in MIDI - this means that you can also slow down or manipulate portions of songs this way too.

ain't technology wonderful?

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi Everyone,

I'm just getting back to this after about a year of inactivity and this thread caught my attention. My son Shione began learning violin about 18 months ago. His teacher has employed audio tape and CD lesson supplementation with piano and/or violin acompaniment and the results have been good. Shione learned to sight read very quickly but the tapes and CDs help reinforce playing the correct notes and with the correct tempo. His mother and I have also bought several CDs of known artists playing the same peices he is learning, most notably, Isaac Stern playing the Vivaldi double violin concerto. It took Shione about 3-4 months of practicing, but he's nearly able to keep up with Stern's speedy tempo now. By the way, he practices about 2 hours daily during the school year and 3 hours daily during the summer. He'll be 11 in September so there are a lot of other things he'd rather be doing, but he willingly practices and he's made pretty good progress (IMO). I think the CDs and tapes have helped speed his progress a great deal. Now he's working on the Bach concerto for two violins in d minor and again we're supplementing with CDs. His teacher has made a CD with piano and violin II accompaniment with which he practices violin I. She and her sons are technically proficient in recording the accompaniment and burning CDs so I suppose it's easier for her to do this, but it's not rocket science and I believe the technical skill can be learned by anyone who is fairly computer savvy (again, IMO).

Anyway, I hope my 2 cents is worth the read.

JStrasbaugh

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Can you please tell me what is that software you are using that you can strip off the soloist from a CD? I would like to strip several soloists out of their performance and replace myself as the star!

Right now, I am using Dowani, that is also a kind of play along, with 3 speeds - 1 slow, 1 intermediate, and another at concert performance speed. It is a great help, and enjoyable in practice.

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The Amazing Slow Downer has the ability to (Karaoke) strip out the lead performance. For even more control over your recordings and CD tracks you want to manipulate: I am just a beginner at the new software Adobe Audition, which was formerly Syntrillium's Cool Edit Pro, a very capable wave editor with advanced capabilities for professional grade sound editing no violinist should be without (IMHO.)The options for today's musician increase by the moment. At a gathering last night, a friend of mine was showing off his new cell phone that records sound clips and takes photos. He then beamed the sound and photos off satellite from his chair in the living room to the computer in that home. Use your imagination folks - these technologies can be used to reinforce learning music in several ways:Added memorization stimulus,Reinforced exposure to passages,quicker response to student questions at home.The list goes on...

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Still here OTH I had my first lesson in about 3 months this past Saturday. My teacher had to take some time off to have surgery. I'm working in Suzuki 2 now, and my teacher complimented me on my third finger vibrato. She said it sounded great! I still read this forum all the time. It always helps with any question I might have. Maybe someday I will actually be able to contribute something pertinent. Thanks for asking. Stay warm up north this winter!

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The recording of my playing in slow down speed (One octave lower). It is tremendously helpful for entonation, vibrato, changes of position and articulation. In normal speed you dont have the time to hear exactly what is happening, but like this you hear everything, I would say you hear too much... And it is also interesting to do the same with great violinists, like Heifetz. You see really why they are so great!!

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