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teaching with puzzles


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My new Violin teacher has an interesting approach to teaching. I think I like it. (I am a puzzle kind of guy)

1) He believes in MAXIMIZING your practice time.

2) Rather than giving me a piece to practice and play, he gives me problems to solve. For example

Play some one octave scale to a count of 3/4. Play the scale up and down until the count comes out even with the end of the scale. How many times does it take (up=1 and down=1, No quick math allowed, scales are played like this DEFGABCDDCBAGFED)?

Play your answer.

Play the same scale with the same beat having one limitation, you must play in one bow direction stopping the bow for each note, until you get to the tip of the bow. Then reverse direction.

a) What is the best way to play this (how many beats per bow)?

:) Where is the best place to start on the bow?

c) Figure out how to produce the best tone and even response.

3) Last but not least Practicing/problem solving can only be done in a 15 min. session(not including warm ups and scale practice.)

Does anyone else have fun Violin problems for beginners to solve ??

Has anyone else heard of teaching this way ?


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That sounds like a interesting way to get you to really pay attention to what you are doing. I hope that your teacher will give you similar puzzles to solve within actual pieces at the right time, though, so you can start linking the problem solving with making music!

My teacher doesn't make up problems quite like that but she does give me very specific things to focus on within pieces or scales. I like having a real nitty-gritty thing to focus on for 10-15 minutes each day because I look forward to seeing the results. The object of focus varies as some problems get cleaned up and others come to the forefront, and she doesn't pile on too much of the picky work in any one week (though I have plenty to practice overall). It's not the kind of thing I like to practice when my family is in the same room 'cause it's often not pretty!

I wonder if the puzzle approach appeals more to highly-motivated adults than it would to kids? It requires a lot of discipline as well as a sense of playfulness and a willingness to take risks.

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My teacher did state he was going to teach me this way because "my mind moves way too fast". He felt that I picked up VERY quickly but a that rate I will miss a lot of the small details and motor skills that I will need later.

He is correct so far. I had been having weird problems that this has solved. It kind of helped with the patting the head while rubbing the belly problems.

He also asked me to not noodle (new word thanks to the discussion board smile.gif ) for now. He wants me to focus on the basic techniques. Later we will play some peices.

I am sure he will add some puzzles into it too. I Do know we will be using Scales and peices used for practicing technique.


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I'll second that... Your teacher sounds GREAT! What a creative way to get a student to focus.

It's always a challenge to find the right balance of discipline and interest vs boredom and loss of focus. Each student has particular strengths/weaknesses, it takes a keen instructor to tailor a curriculum to suit the individual. It sounds like yours is that kind of teacher. smile.gif

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