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outofnames

Finger tape on instruments

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I didn't want pollute the cello thread so I thought I'd start a new one.

I started learning the violin in 2017 at 44 with no musical background.  I was very doubtful about my ability to play by ear and hear if the notes were in tune.   I tried a wrap around finger guide first but found it interfered with the strings.  I then went to finger tape.

After 4 months of lessons I started to get concerned about it becoming a crutch holding me back.  

I ripped all of it off but for the 4th finger as I felt like I needed a guide for placing hand.  After another 2 weeks, I removed it as well.

It was a little rocky at first, but I began to realize that my aural skills had started to develop.  Plus, I was free to find the notes if the strings were a tad sharp or flat.

Looking back, I now realize I would have been fine without the tape from the start.  Fortunately, it only took a few months to recognize it as something that would impede, not help, me.

I began working on 3rd position in March of this year and I've come to realize just how much my I've learned to listen to what I'm playing.  Turns out I can hear just fine After all.

I agree...No Tape.

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I am not a fan of tape use either, but I think it's fine for beginners, so they can 'see' where their fingers are supposed to go.  Otherwise, the concept of finding the correct note in a dark forest of 'nothingness' can be too abstract and overwhelming.

Once they they can connect the 'see' to the 'hear' I think the tapes should be removed, as you mentioned, so they don't become a crutch.

I also think scales (easy scales) should be introduced as a warm-up right from the get go.  Play the scale (er, in tune) before you play the piece, so you have the sound of it in your ear.  Don't play scales for the sake of playing scales (unless you happen to love scales! Then by all means, scale away!) - make the scale a pragmatic part of playing the piece.  I think most students, once they understand the importance of scales in a practical way, are less likely to rebel against them.

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It is NOT fine... never never. It is always in the wrong place, but so what if it’s not? Music is AURAL, not visual. Listen for the sound, which reveals the proper place, and ignore tapes. Avoid them.

Listen.

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For a quick visual, it can really help. No need to leave them on long. A week? Maybe two? Then they come off - but that depends on the student.

Not every one learns the same way...not even music.

All the different learning types are very real...I've had exposure to students in the basic categories - they all achieve success, some just need to get there via a different road.

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11 hours ago, PhilipKT said:

Listen for the sound, which reveals the proper place, and ignore tapes.

The sound reveals the proper place IF and ONLY IF your ears are trained.

So, if you've already got a musical ear, sure, tapes are a crutch.  But if your ear is untrained, the tapes are helping with the training.

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11 hours ago, PhilipKT said:

It is NOT fine... never never. It is always in the wrong place, but so what if it’s not? Music is AURAL, not visual. Listen for the sound, which reveals the proper place, and ignore tapes. Avoid them.

Listen.

Very, VERY true !

Tapes are a disaster and should not be used even for five minutes. Because they are used early, right in the beginning, they have long term influence on a pupil's approach to intonation. Using tapes often says more about the teacher than the student. Often the teacher is some incompetent amateur or just lazy and negligent.

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Just now, Eugen Modri said:

...Using tapes often says more about the teacher than the student. Often the teacher is some incompetent amateur or just lazy and negligent.

Judgemental much? :blink:

How about this:

"A teacher who will not using a teaching aid, where appropriate, to advance the understanding and competence of a student, in favour of adhering to rigid and outdated teaching practices, needs to retire and take up macrame."

...

...

Geez! I can't believe I feel I need to defend the use of tapes! ^_^ I'd prefer not to use them either. But I've seen how valuable they can be.

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11 hours ago, Rue said:

For a quick visual, it can really help. No need to leave them on long. A week? Maybe two? Then they come off - but that depends on the student.

Not every one learns the same way...not even music.

All the different learning types are very real...I've had exposure to students in the basic categories - they all achieve success, some just need to get there via a different road.

I noticed you post A LOT and most of the time are just making conversation. May I suggest you abstain from violin pedagogy as you know nothing about it and people who might listen to you know even less. In learning violin it is crucial the student controls the instrument using his ear right from the first second.

 

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2 minutes ago, Rue said:

Judgemental much? :blink:

How about this:

"A teacher who will not using a teaching aid, where appropriate, to advance the understanding and competence of a student, in favour of adhering to rigid and outdated teaching practices, needs to retire and take up macrame."

...

...

Geez! I can't believe I feel I need to defend the use of tapes! ^_^ I'd prefer not to use them either. But I've seen how valuable they can be.

You should stick with what you really know. Violin pedagogy is not one of those. I did it for over 50 years and it is one of the things I do know. Teaching violin is about hard specifics not empty generalities.

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54 minutes ago, Stephen Fine said:

The sound reveals the proper place IF and ONLY IF your ears are trained.

So, if you've already got a musical ear, sure, tapes are a crutch.  But if your ear is untrained, the tapes are helping with the training.

Complete bollocks. The tapes hinder the training. Are you a "Suzuki" teacher ? :) 

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1 minute ago, Eugen Modri said:

You should stick with what you really know. Violin pedagogy is not one of those. I did it for over 50 years and it is one of the things I do know. Teaching violin is about hard specifics not empty generalities.

Have you considered taking a refresher course? Many helpful teaching tools and approaches have been developed since ~ 1950.

I suspect your training involved a harsh, unsmiling Russian. Do Russian violin teachers also rap knuckles with a wooden stick? Or is that only Russian piano teachers?

Hey! Did you know my Onkel Jefim??? :)

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25 minutes ago, Eugen Modri said:

I noticed you post A LOT and most of the time are just making conversation. ...

Very true!!! I post A LOT!!! :)

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The trading of insults aside...^_^

I suspect some MNers have a different pool of what they consider to be "students".

There are "serious" students - who may go on to professional careers.

Then there is everyone else.

Of the population of music students, what percentage fall into the first group? 10%, 20%?

Then there are all the other students; including those casually exploring music for the experience, adults with zero experience but high desire, etc.

Since they are also learning, regardless of their ultimate agenda, it has to be a positive experience.

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I think it was Arnold Steinhardt who I read in Violin Dreams describing trying to play the violin with his bow in his left hand and violin in his right hand to try to understand what it must be like for a student to hold a violin for the first time. It was very difficult.

Now, I am not a teacher, and I have never used tape, but I can imagine that it could be helpful to a 4-8 year-old beginner to match finger placement to color just to get started. 

I certainly don't see how it could cause permanent damage and ruin their career. :D

 

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13 minutes ago, GeorgeH said:

I think it was Arnold Steinhardt who I read in Violin Dreams describing trying to play the violin with his bow in his left hand and violin in his right hand to try to understand what it must be like for a student to hold a violin for the first time. It was very difficult. ...

I haven't read the book, but we've tried that as well! :lol:

It's very difficult, and humbling...

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On 5/29/2020 at 3:22 PM, outofnames said:

I began working on 3rd position in March of this year and I've come to realize just how much my I've learned to listen to what I'm playing.  Turns out I can hear just fine After all.

I agree...No Tape.

The (old) traditional way was to start learning in 3rd position followed by 4th and then 1st. I learned like that but don't remember much, was 3 or 4 y/o. But I believe a lot of issues will become clear in 3rd position. Also, the tone of a violin takes off around 3rd, too. Easier to hear what you are doing. Lots of violins are foggy in 1st. With a decent sized hand you can cover a lot of space from 4th, up and down. Food for thought. :)

You'll do just fine.

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4 hours ago, Stephen Fine said:

The sound reveals the proper place IF and ONLY IF your ears are trained.

So, if you've already got a musical ear, sure, tapes are a crutch.  But if your ear is untrained, the tapes are helping with the training.

Training the ears is as easy as singing a half step and whole step.

Rather than having a student sing a specific pitch, I have them sing any pitch. “La” on any pitch that is comfortable for them.

When they do that, I find the note on my instrument, regardless of octave, and I sing it back to them. They are singing an A or a B flat or What-have-you. Once we have established which pitch they are singing, I sing a whole step above that pitch, and then I have them match me. That explains “whole step.” We repeat the process with other notes, eventually ending with D-E or G-A. And then I have them play Open D or G with me and then I play the next note and have them slide to match me. 

I play the same note and have the student remove his hand, shake the fingers, and go back to the same pitch. I then stop and have them repeat the process. 

This takes no more than two or three minutes.

Any child with musical ability can sing. Even if they never have sung they can sing, because the ability to reproduce a pitch accurately Is one of the fundamental requirements for any kind of musical scale.

No tape.

 

ps: some children are uncomfortable singing. I can almost always cajole them into doing so, because the discomfort comes from Never singing, and not from an inability to sing.

however, I have had kids who steadfastly refuse to sing, but I ask them to whistle and they’re willing to whistle, so we go through the same process. Whistling is a bit more involved than singing so eventually they end up singing anyway, and once the ice is broken, it’s never a problem again.

Edited by PhilipKT
PS

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Quote

Any child with musical ability can sing.

Not all children/adults have 'musical ability'.  Or maybe they do, but only believe they don't have musical ability (for whatever reason; something they were told, or an issue with comprehending certain abstract concepts, a learning disablity, etc.) and it becomes a huge hurdle to overcome.  Either way, that doesn't mean they can't learn to enjoy music, or playing the instrument.  So why make it harder on them?  Why risk having them quit?

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BTW...why am I on here - having so much "conversation"?  Especially today, on a Sunday afternoon (when I should be out gardening and tending goats)?  I am grading long-answer assignments...on-line.  I get MN noticifications that pop up on my computer. I need a distraction (from the basic grammar and spelling errors that University students really shouldn't be making)...any distraction...:wacko:

Edited by Rue
...still leaving out entire words :(...

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4 hours ago, Rue said:

"A teacher who will not using a teaching aid, where appropriate, to advance the understanding and competence of a student, in favour of adhering to rigid and outdated teaching practices, needs to retire and take up macrame."

...

Never appropriate.

perhaps better to say never necessary.

they train the eyes rather than the ears.

lets work backwards.

Q: At what point is it acceptable to remove the tape?

A: when the student consistently associates a sound with a location and can go to the correct sound without looking(notice that two factors are at work: Aural memory and muscle memory, but the AURAL is dominant. The ear is guiding the hand, instead of the hand leading the ear.)

well, if the student can be trained to associate sound and location without tape, then tape is never necessary in the first place.

Also the tape is always 100% of the time in the wrong place anyway, so training the kid to look for the tape is developing the worst of bad habits.

I have, countless times, in orchestra classes, heard the teacher say,”make sure your fingers are on the tape,” so a student with a developed ear is forced to choose between the RIGHT SOUND, and the TAPE.

in the absolute best of worlds, tape is unnecessary, and delays aural development.

we do not, sadly, live in the best of worlds, and in ours, tape is destructive and develops myriad bad habits.

 

 

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9 minutes ago, Rue said:

BTW...why am on here - having so much "conversation"?  Especially today, on a Sunday afternoon (when I should be out gardening and tending goats)?  I am grading long-answer assignments...on-line.  I get MN noticifications that pop up on my computer. I need a distraction (from the basic grammar and spelling errors that University students really shouldn't be making)...any distraction...:wacko:

You're here because everyone loves talking to you, and we keep waiting for the invite to tea.

maybe mine is getting lost in the mail...

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4 hours ago, Eugen Modri said:

I noticed you post A LOT and most of the time are just making conversation. May I suggest you abstain from violin pedagogy as you know nothing about it and people who might listen to you know even less. In learning violin it is crucial the student controls the instrument using his ear right from the first second.

 

I would like to point out that Rue Is a highly valued member of this group.she is… I’m actually assuming it’s a she, I’m never quite sure… She is smart, funny, witty( which are two different things) Tolerant and kind, and will eventually invite me to tea.

I have Explained why I disagree with her, and with Stephen as well, I value every one of her posts.

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 When I was a little boy, in 1973, I started on violin and then almost immediately, God be praised, switched to cello. I started on a three-quarter size, unnecessarily, but that’s what they did. I remember that when I started playing a full size it had a first finger tape but nothing else. The lady who was coaching the cellos came for a session and we were playing a G major scale. I stopped, Raised my hand, and said, “Mrs. Owen, I don’t have any tape on my cello.” She said, “So what? Play.”  I played, it was in tune, and that was that. I had used tape, but it was never necessary for me. However, I did not know that, and I was Apprehensive about the absence of tape on my new full-size cello, but I did not need to be. The apprehension was created by the  unnecessary use of tape in the first place.

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2 hours ago, GeorgeH said:

I think it was Arnold Steinhardt who I read in Violin Dreams describing trying to play the violin with his bow in his left hand and violin in his right hand to try to understand what it must be like for a student to hold a violin for the first time. It was very difficult.

Now, I am not a teacher, and I have never used tape, but I can imagine that it could be helpful to a 4-8 year-old beginner to match finger placement to color just to get started. 

I certainly don't see how it could cause permanent damage and ruin their career. :D

 

Neither can I. And I did not say it would.

My Conservatory Prof. insisted that we try switch hands. Very useful, very enlightening ! We could discuss this tape issue in private but suffice to say that longer lessons in the beginning of one's violin learning are most efficacious. Having the entire process aurally driven from the get go is absolutely priceless. A bit of tape here and there might not be a disaster but then we all know it's never " a bit". It's months and even a year or two. 

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44 minutes ago, PhilipKT said:

I would like to point out that Rue Is a highly valued member of this group.she is… I’m actually assuming it’s a she, I’m never quite sure… She is smart, funny, witty( which are two different things) Tolerant and kind, and will eventually invite me to tea.

I have Explained why I disagree with her, and with Stephen as well, I value every one of her posts.

Great ! I don't value every one of her posts. I value some and not others. I gave an opinion based on long experience. I am not interested in the opinion of amateurs with ZERO experience. "Works for me" is meaningless here.

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