Question for beginning Violin/viola teachers


Recommended Posts

16 minutes ago, PhilipKT said:

Well, I can’t comment on violin technique beyond the most basic stuff. I can still play Rondino, but that’s the farthest I got before realizing that Violin was boring and cello was-and is-where it’s at.

Woah....wut? 

I LOVE the cello, but "Violin was boring"?????  WUT!

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 92
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Posted Images

11 minutes ago, PhilipKT said:

Well, I can’t comment on violin technique beyond the most basic stuff. I can still play Rondino, but that’s the farthest I got before realizing that Violin was boring and cello was-and is-where it’s at.

Well that's nice you found your niche. I hope one day someone will invent nice sounding cello strings.

 

12 minutes ago, PhilipKT said:

Exactly correct.

I'm learning the easy way. It's only taken 43 years to get this far. Imagine if I had started on violin. How much longer it would have taken?

Link to post
Share on other sites
26 minutes ago, violinnewb said:

Short reply to this thread as I am working right now.  You guys can yell at me later.

Why not just teach basic chromatic scales in one and two octaves?  That way, you got the low 1, low 2, high 2, high 3, low 4, blah blah.  

Even shorter reply :)  : careful teachers avoid asking for things pupils can't yet control by ear. Takes a fair amount of time for a youngster to figure out what a half tone is. Playing on autopilot intonation wise corrupts the ear, probably the most common affliction of the average violin player.

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, sospiri said:

Well that's nice you found your niche. I hope one day someone will invent nice sounding cello strings.

 

I'm learning the easy way. It's only taken 43 years to get this far. Imagine if I had started on violin. How much longer it would have taken?

 Not nearly as much time..l you’d have said,”man, this is hard” quickly and moved on to bassoon or something...

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, violinnewb said:

Woah....wut? 

I LOVE the cello, but "Violin was boring"?????  WUT!

Haha. Long ago I made a comment here called “why do you play what you play?” And shared the story of why I play the cello. It was funny, and addresses your comment, hahaha

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, violinnewb said:

Short reply to this thread as I am working right now.  You guys can yell at me later.

Why not just teach basic chromatic scales in one and two octaves?  That way, you got the low 1, low 2, high 2, high 3, low 4, blah blah.  

I’ve thought about that approach, and it is probably workable. But conceptually, it’s easier to start with scales because most music is scalar and not chromatic, and because it’s easier to initially think in letters, rather than modified letters, so thinking of A is easier than thinking of A flat or A sharp. True, we can’t get away from that completely unless we Start with C Major, but on balance, I think diatonic is more convenient than chromatic.

Link to post
Share on other sites

PhilipKT, you are just criticizing the Suzuki approach (again).

When my violin lessons started in the late 1930s there was no Suzuki (that I know of in the Western world) and I was taught by whatever the prevailing wisdom was. The same with my cello lessons that started 10 years later with  an ex-big symphony musician (Minneapolis, Chicago, Philadelphia and Atlanta), whose musical training starter early enough that he spent WW-I as a cellist in a US Army Band.

So after teaching for about 10 years, starting in the mid 1960s I encountered the results of Suzuki teaching when some of the teenage Suzuki violin students were shuffled off on to me. I was so impressed by their progress that I started to use to Suzuki books for my incoming students.

I think there is merit to Suzuki approach that starts as it does with the top 2 strings and A major for violin and D major for viola and cello. And it gets rid of any notion of equal finger spacing before it even starts. I was able to move my better kid students off "Twinkle" in a week.

OBSERVATION: The Suzuki cello books followed the same "mold" as the violin and viola books - that you, PhilipKT, are complaining about. What can I say - It works. More good players are being turned out now then ever before.

Good Suzuki teachers recognize their most promising students and turn them over to the best (conventional) teachers they can find. This should be done before these promising young people finish the whole Suzuki program. You can tell when a kid is something special. I saw Anne Akiko Meyers in concerts when she was 6 and 7 and even then you knew she was special - her intonation, her bowing and her sound.  She was sent off to the first of her top teachers a short time later.

But, PhilipKT I think you have seen my counter-rant on all this before.

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, PhilipKT said:

 Not nearly as much time..l you’d have said,”man, this is hard” quickly and moved on to bassoon or something...

Uh-huh...:)

Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, PhilipKT said:

I must’ve expressed myself poorly. I will haul out my violin and make a videoI must’ve expressed myself poorly. I will haul out my violin and make a video.

In this video my thumb is in the wrong place but it is adequate for demonstration purposes. It shows what I mean. 1234 play EFF#G. For what it’s worth this violin only has two strings too, ha ha

FullSizeRender.mov

I'm lost. :mellow: Which happens :angry:, s'okay. ^_^

Why do we want to start a student like this? 

I understand arguments for starting with the keys of G and D. I understand the argument for starting with the key of A. I understand the argument for starting with the key of C. I actually prefer the key of C. It might be a tad harder, but I think it makes sense to start without the added issue of explaining sharps and flats.

But I don't understand the benefit, on violin at least, of starting chromatically and using the "wrong" fingers.

Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, Rue said:

I'm lost. :mellow: Which happens :angry:, s'okay. ^_^

Why do we want to start a student like this? 

I understand arguments for starting with the keys of G and D. I understand the argument for starting with the key of A. I understand the argument for starting with the key of C. I actually prefer the key of C. It might be a tad harder, but I think it makes sense to start without the added issue of explaining sharps and flats.

But I don't understand the benefit, on violin at least, of starting chromatically and using the "wrong" fingers.

Does it really matter what keys a beginner plays? Intonation takes the same amount of playing hours to develop regardless.  During that time all 12 keys can be practiced.

Understanding basic music theory, the simple relationships between the keys and modes is a much quicker process, because they are simple enough concepts. But the amount of hours required to actually sound good is enormous. Child prodigies have done those hours. I don't believe there is any other way to develop the skills other than huge amounts of focused repetition.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Children beginning music are usually first taught to sing a major scale (doe ray me fa so la tee doe), so it is naturally easier to develop intonation and correct finger placement when you can anticipate what the next note is supposed to sound like.

Most kids and most adults who can sing a major scale are unable to sing a minor scale. In fact, a knowledgable musician asked to sing a minor scale would astutely ask "which one?"

So despite @PhilipKT's complaining about this total non-issue, there is good reason to start kids with fingerings using the intervals in major scales. I would bet dollars-to-dimes that every virtuoso player in the last 100 years started with major scale intervals.  

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes. It matters.

Learning anything new is a huge mental task.  Learning an instrument is even more challenging. You need to learn to hold the instrument, where to place your hands/fingers, how to read music (hopefully), all while looking at the music while wrestling with the octopus.

Why compound those difficulties by starting with a key that is more complicated to finger? 

Beginners also want to start "playing" music ASAP. That's the big reward and motivator. They can (and should) do that if it's kept as easy as possible.

As soon as they have a grasp on things...then more complicated material is introduced. The initial learning period may be a short for some, longer for others...but either way it's very important.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Andrew Victor said:

PhilipKT, you are just criticizing the Suzuki approach (again).

When my violin lessons started in the late 1930s there was no Suzuki (that I know of in the Western world) and I was taught by whatever the prevailing wisdom was. The same with my cello lessons that started 10 years later with  an ex-big symphony musician (Minneapolis, Chicago, Philadelphia and Atlanta), whose musical training starter early enough that he spent WW-I as a cellist in a US Army Band.

So after teaching for about 10 years, starting in the mid 1960s I encountered the results of Suzuki teaching when some of the teenage Suzuki violin students were shuffled off on to me. I was so impressed by their progress that I started to use to Suzuki books for my incoming students.

I think there is merit to Suzuki approach that starts as it does with the top 2 strings and A major for violin and D major for viola and cello. And it gets rid of any notion of equal finger spacing before it even starts. I was able to move my better kid students off "Twinkle" in a week.

OBSERVATION: The Suzuki cello books followed the same "mold" as the violin and viola books - that you, PhilipKT, are complaining about. What can I say - It works. More good players are being turned out now then ever before.

Good Suzuki teachers recognize their most promising students and turn them over to the best (conventional) teachers they can find. This should be done before these promising young people finish the whole Suzuki program. You can tell when a kid is something special. I saw Anne Akiko Meyers in concerts when she was 6 and 7 and even then you knew she was special - her intonation, her bowing and her sound.  She was sent off to the first of her top teachers a short time later.

But, PhilipKT I think you have seen my counter-rant on all this before.

I enjoy sharing ideas, and my post here is not at all anti-Suzuki, it’s a question as to why classroom education approaches beginning strings in a manner that I feel is flawed. I was asking for reasonings behind the approach, and although I didn’t intend it, the discussion digressed into an approach that I feel is better.

I’m actually in between lessons right now so I can’t adequately respond, but I will do so later

Edited by PhilipKT
Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, sospiri said:

Does it really matter what keys a beginner plays? Intonation takes the same amount of playing hours to develop regardless.  During that time all 12 keys can be practiced.

Understanding basic music theory, the simple relationships between the keys and modes is a much quicker process, because they are simple enough concepts. But the amount of hours required to actually sound good is enormous. Child prodigies have done those hours. I don't believe there is any other way to develop the skills other than huge amounts of focused repetition.

No I don’t think it matters what keys a child starts with, I don’t start my children with scales at all for the first few weeks, I just teach accurate and relaxed finger placement.  When I do start with scales, Of course I start with major scales, that goes without saying.
 

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Rue said:

I'm lost. :mellow: Which happens :angry:, s'okay. ^_^

Why do we want to start a student like this? 

I understand arguments for starting with the keys of G and D. I understand the argument for starting with the key of A. I understand the argument for starting with the key of C. I actually prefer the key of C. It might be a tad harder, but I think it makes sense to start without the added issue of explaining sharps and flats.

But I don't understand the benefit, on violin at least, of starting chromatically and using the "wrong" fingers.

I’m not sure I understand your complaint. I’m not advocating using wrong fingers at all. And I’m certainly not ignoring the scales, it’s just that the first left hand goal is placing All four fingers accurately, and not ignoring one until after Christmas.

Link to post
Share on other sites
19 hours ago, PhilipKT said:

it’s easier to initially think in letters, rather than modified letters, so thinking of A is easier than thinking of A flat or A sharp. 

Isn't that what a "low 2" is?  Depending on the sting, its a natural.  So, my point is, if the idea is that beginners should not be limited to a certain major key that avoids the low 2s, high 3s, etc....then a chromatic scale approach fits the bill.  I am not saying that is a good idea because of what Carl pointed out, but that is one solution.  I personally like teaching songs in a certain key so that a beginner is comfortable with a particular pattern.  Then, I use that foundation to build upon new keys and fingerings thereafter.

Link to post
Share on other sites
14 minutes ago, violinnewb said:

Isn't that what a "low 2" is?  Depending on the sting, its a natural.  So, my point is, if the idea is that beginners should not be limited to a certain major key that avoids the low 2s, high 3s, etc....then a chromatic scale approach fits the bill.  I am not saying that is a good idea because of what Carl pointed out, but that is one solution.  I personally like teaching songs in a certain key so that a beginner is comfortable with a particular pattern.  Then, I use that foundation to build upon new keys and fingerings thereafter.

The best goal initially is finger placement, and placing all four fingers. It is silly to ignore a finger for so long the student develops bad habits. 
im not advocating avoiding scales at all. Of course we must teach scales. I’m saying that initially, would be very fast, and as soon as all four fingers are set, we proceed as usual.

my only problem is that every method I’ve looked at ignores low 2 and 2 on the high strings and on cello until after Christmas, which is unnecessary and which causes problems.

focusing on only one or two keys does cause problems but they are minor and easily dealt with.

And Victor, I made quite clear that I am not anti-Suzuki, my problem with Suzuki is merely the same problem that exists with methods in general.

Link to post
Share on other sites
26 minutes ago, GeorgeH said:

How many beginners can sing a chromatic scale?

Well played and much agreed.  Again, I'm not advocating teaching chromatic scales to beginners.  I am offering a solution based upon the specific issue of not teaching low 2s.  

I always tell my students, if you can sing the part, you can likely play it...eventually.  So I do in fact advocate singing.

Link to post
Share on other sites
11 minutes ago, GeorgeH said:

How many beginners can sing a chromatic scale?

Do do#  re re# mi fa fa# so so# la la# te do

Someone write a catchy song 

Do a deer a female deer, do# a stag to court the do

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Although it is another digression, singing is creating a pitch, so if a student can reproduce any pitch they can produce every pitch. 
when I joined the boys choir in church the director wanted to find my vocal range, so he sat at the piano and started in a key and said “ sing this pitch.” I did so, and he proceeded step-wise in both directions until he determined whether I was a tenor or baritone. So I was singing chromatically. 
as I’ve made clear, the discussion of keys and scales is a digression from my original question, which was why methods ignore the whole hand. However, teaching chromatically shouldn’t be anymore difficult, at least physically and Aurally, then teaching diatonically. Visually and conceptually is another matter of course, but hearing and reproducing a half step is no more difficult than hearing a whole step. After all, even a major scale does that twice.

however, that’s not relevant to my original query.

Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, PhilipKT said:

I’m not sure I understand your complaint. I’m not advocating using wrong fingers at all. And I’m certainly not ignoring the scales, it’s just that the first left hand goal is placing All four fingers accurately, and not ignoring one until after Christmas.

I'm not sure I can express myself better.

By "wrong" fingers I meant we wouldn't use the 3rd finger to sound an F# on the D string, or the 4th finger for a G...while teaching a beginner in 1st position.

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, PhilipKT said:

my only problem is that every method I’ve looked at ignores low 2 and 2 on the high strings and on cello until after Christmas, which is unnecessary and which causes problems.

It appears that the only person who seems to have a problem with this approach is you. It is kind of like complaining about why a toddler can't learn to crawl and walk at the same time. And do it before Christmas.

This overwhelmingly-accepted method of pedagogy does not seem to have "caused problems" nor stunted the development of countless players and virtuosos.

But I'd suggest that you write your own method since it is such a concern of yours. You could self-publish it, and see how it works out.

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...
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.