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Dounis


Locatelli

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I was wondering some days ago: what he did, really? Are his books really important?

About him, where did he sudied? Was he a good violinist? What famous students he taught?

I must add that I respect his books, but since I know nothing more about him than his theories and Menuhin`s opinion( "a classic"), I`m pretty curious.

Anyone knows more than me on that issue?

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There was a thread about the Daily Dozen and some other stuff. Search for it; in the meantime I'll tell you what I remember reading and hearing.

He was a medical doctor and developed his teaching and excercise books from what he knew of medicine. (He was a violinist too, but I don't know how good. I also don't know of any of his pupils.) He had some program where for about $600 and 6 or 12 lessons (plus some coaching and monitored practice and check-ups, amounting to over 30 hours of time with Dounis) he'd teach a student "everything about violin-playing." I think that's the program Szigeti dismissed as a get-rich-quick-type scheme in "Szigeti on the Violin." A cellist, former Piatigorsky (I think) student, took the course. He said the guy taught string playing principles like Piatigorsky's only Dounis was more focused and concentrated, probably because he knew he was just teaching the very basic concepts. The cellist (writing in either The Strad or Strings) said that being told all that stuff took a few hours, but applying it took a lifetime.

Dr. Dounis had a clinic where famous virtuosi would go for "check-ups." The patient would enter the front door and have his/her technique looked at and when it was time for the next patient, the person would leave out the back door so no one knew who else went to The Doctor. I have no idea which virtuosi went for check-ups, though Heifetz used Dounis's The Absolute Independence of the Left Hand.

-Aman

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It can't be all that bad can it?

The question might be, if it is complete, and if his etudes or studies could bring about the same results (and better) than things like Kreutzer, and in a (much) shorter period of time.

Is there any knowledge about that?

S.Taylor

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Thanks, Aman. I was beginning to think that Dounis was invented.

But... I don`t know. A couple of positive opinions with no impressive carreer, unknown teachers and no well-known students. That $600 course is a bad sign to me.

Probably there were more reliable "authorities"in violin playing, no matter if he was a medical doctor( he could be a bad one).

I still don`t know. I`m still reading his "principles" , and did not came to a conclusion yet.

About the so-called "virtuosi clinic", the fact that the virtuosi supposedly came there and remained anonymous is not a good sign either. Menuhin praised Dounis on his book, so he maybe came there for advice( as well as yoga, tai chi and so many alternative ways).

I hope to reach a balanced conclusion on this.

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  • 22 years later...

A few of his students include Joseph Silverstein, David Nadien, Aaron Rosand, William Primrose, Karen Tuttle , George Neikrug, Leslie Parnas, Sidney Griller of the Griller String Quartet, Broadus Earl, Claus Adam, Sylvan Shulman, briefly Dorothy DeLay, 

he was confidential and many studied with him secretly during their students or after their formal education. Many of his students did not include him in their bio and mostly not in their obituaries. 

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Thank you for your post—and your presence here! I attended a master class Orion gave some years ago (maybe 20!) in our town, which I enjoyed very much—though I apparently asked an unspeakable question that elicited a sharp rebuke from our violin faculty. But to some extent it connects with your comments on Dounis: Who teaches/advises/ coaches the masters? How do the masters gain an objective perspective on their work?

That is an impressive list of students!

By the way, you proceded to answer my question quite tolerantly and politely. Thank you.

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I'm not sure Dounis had a studio in the same way as we usually think...  I always thought that he was more of a coach than a teacher.  I never got that impression that violinists studied with him so much as took lessons for a while to learn about his ideas.

I was given Dounis's Artist's Technique by Roland Vamos a month or so after this post was first written in 2001.  To this day, there aren't any etudes I consider more effective than a few of the etudes in that book.  It's so lovely that CF prints an omnibus now, The Dounis Collection.  It doesn't have everything, but it's got most of it including The Artist's Technique.

PS- Dounis is for advanced, careful, thoughtful players.  The exercises are often physically difficult and monotonous.

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"Mechanically" Mr Phillip's responses will be choked.

3 hours ago, Stephen Fine said:

 ( ... )

PS- Dounis is for advanced, careful, thoughtful players.  The exercises are often physically difficult and monotonous.

"Physically difficult," but "careful" and mostly "thoughtful," might be the most concise reading...

The learning arc is strange because the best might have a special channel to the brain when working. Sometimes the repetitive work is what the ordinary musician can initially manage.

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4 hours ago, GoPractice said:

"Mechanically" Mr Phillip's responses will be choked.

"Physically difficult," but "careful" and mostly "thoughtful," might be the most concise reading...

The learning arc is strange because the best might have a special channel to the brain when working. Sometimes the repetitive work is what the ordinary musician can initially manage.

Have you watched any of the videos that H. Hahn has posted of herself practicing on social media?  It is so fun to watch.  She does what I do, just faster and better.  It's quite reaffirming to watch.  Indeed, it seems like a special channel to the brain.

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The Special are special.

Students hear about the books later in development and the fact they are interested makes me happier. I was always afraid to show anything to my teachers for two decades. I best prepared what the assignments were, but feared that if I showed them a side hustle that they would chastise for not staying on task/ target. Two teachers would not work on orchestral excerpts with me ( both having studied with Gingold ) but would discuss them outside the hour. Another two would task me with the score reading and the potential and then to play the excerpts as generically and cleanly as possible. 

Most of my teachers of any treated the Paganini Caprices as etudes and would only teach sections before moving on. They expected me to stitch the "etude" sections with the easier parts ( not easy. ) It was supposed to bridge what was taught in the Flesch scale books into musical ideas. Actually, they throwing me a bone as even Rode and Fiorillo posed difficulty in certain sections. It was strange to review older editions and see mad writing for about 5 lines and nothing virtually on the rest of the work.

I mention this because being a slow learner, Dounis was a bit out of my league early on. A teacher actually audibly scoffed when the name was mentioned. But to his credit, he told me to go to the library and carefully examine every Sevcik book. That took like 8 weeks. We had a discussion that fluency was one aspect of playing, mechanics another and finally musicality, which is subjective. The first two was the chicken and egg situation. The third was if I wanted to eat.

Making fun of Sevcik is easy and do not bother to introduce most ideas to students for a long while. There could be several long threads about the pros and cons. Is it possible to get hurt? Ultimately, the discussions were about making an etude an individual study, the short repetitive patterns in every key was to understand my own playing. In positions?

The most valuable lesson was to not play a pattern 20x but to listen and feel, carefully, the textures and pitches. If one pattern is successful in a lower position, go to the upper positions. Pure interval changes are important, then we have key centered changes. Thus the viola might be the most important instrument in a developmental section. 

The hope was that having a level of technique - scales, arpeggios, rhythmic patterns, on and on - prepare us, encourage us to develop courage to try new things. And for fluency this is very much to Mahler. Like I need to credit Shotakovich's writing, but he followed many established rules making the pieces playable. Prokofiev, not as kind.       

When looking at Dounis, it requires a great deal of this unpacking of things learned. There is the physical stamina ( and skeletal/ muscular system and the intellectual one. But frankly, because I was defeated so early on, never spent time too much time researching the system or other works. Never having an entire summer to sit there and start at page 1, to see how much could be develop, the approach is still taking it apart. And I do suggest sitting, keep the playing compact and deliberate. Which leads to another type of playing.

Ah, Ms Hahn... again, another discussion.

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