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technique, or lack thereof [Apr. 11th, 2014|12:10 am]


I've been taking violin lessons for 15 months now. I had a lesson with a substitute teacher because my regular teacher was out. The sub was my first violin teacher. She's really sweet and we're the same age so we had stuff in common, but I had to switch to another teacher because the lesson time became inconvienent after a while.

I'm on the second Suzuki book, learning Judas Maccabeus. I'm pretty much done with it and I went over it with the sub. At the end of the lesson, the sub was having a bit of fun with the song and started trilling one of the notes. She asked if I wanted to try and I did, I pretty much nailed it right away which was awesome.

It got me to thinking...I haven't really learned any technique since I've started playing. I'm up to five note slurs with scales and four note slurred arpeggios, learned tenuto and a little staccato, and that's it.

I was wondering if it's very common to not know much for the first couple of years, or if it's the Suzuki book that's the problem. It does talk about third position at the end of the second book but my teacher is going to teach me second position first, then third.

I'm not saying I'm not learning anything, because I am and I think I've come far since my first lesson. It's just that there's so much to learn. Pizzicato, tremolo, vibrato, martele, double stops (I do think the second Suzuki book does introduce some double stop exercises), and so on. I know first position like the back of my hand, even the flats which I haven't formally learned yet. And my intonation is pretty damn good so I just feel like I should be doing exercises that are slightly more difficult than what I'm learning now, especially since I've been working on the same G maj scale and the same arpeggio variations for months now. I even go a step further and can play them with my eyes closed and keep good form, because that's what my teacher wants me to do. I work hard and just...want to do more I guess.

[User Picture]From: dinogrrl
2014-04-11 10:46 pm (UTC)
Too old to be a professional musician? Have you seen how old some professional musicians are? :p I assume you mean 'too old to start playing professionally', which is also not true! My dad basically became a professional musician after retiring from his (non-musical) career. (True, he'd been playing on and off the whole time, but my point remains.) If playing professionally is something that interests you, go for it.

Otherwise, I agree with what the other commenters said. I went through book 6 of Suzuki, but by the time I was in book 3, my teacher was giving me supplemental work. Scales, etudes, easier concertos, etc. That was also about the time I started playing in a junior youth orchestra, so I had that music to work on too; you could ask your instructor for some orchestral excerpts to try. I would definitely talk with your teacher about this. It is never too early to start on the scales and etudes. I wish my first teacher had pushed it more, but she was more interested in churning out kids who could screech out notes on stringed instruments than musicians.
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[User Picture]From: starrynight
2014-04-12 03:44 am (UTC)
I think my ultimate goal is to play in a community orchestra. There is one around and they take musicians of all levels, but I'm pregnant so I'm putting that on hold for a bit, because infants are work. I want to do really, really well. I am sure a lot of adults are satisfied with just learning whatever gets thrown their way, but not me. I want to be a great musician.

Did you like the Suzuki books? So far, they're not bad, but there's not a lot of exercises in book two. There's really not much happening in the first half except maybe some intro to double stops and then at the end of the book, there's an intro to third position.

I'll talk to my teacher. I have a book based on Flesch's scales and it's arpeggios and scales in one, two, and three octaves. And I have Wohlfarht's 60 studies, op 45 - book 1. I also did get Flesch's Urstudien as a previous commented recommended. I want to work on my left hand and try to get more dexterous.

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[User Picture]From: dinogrrl
2014-04-12 05:24 pm (UTC)
Community orchestras are fun! Once I get my violin fixed I'm going to see if I can get back in the local one. I do best when I have a group to play in, that's how I encourage myself to play better.

I liked the Suzuki books, in that they're a good guide to work from, but they definitely aren't the be-all, end-all. And, at least the editions I have, they edited some of the concerto movements, so learning the unedited versions later was interesting, and frankly a bit aggravating because I had to unlearn things. (And now, I'm like really? You're editing Vivaldi? 8| why)
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[User Picture]From: starrynight
2014-04-12 05:56 pm (UTC)
I have the old Suzuki books as well as the new ones. It's interesting to compare the two. For one, there's really no exercises at all in the older editions, and pretty much every note is labeled.

I do think the biggest issue with Suzuki is that it doesn't start off with learning how to read music. Then again, most children are 3,4 and 5 when they start out on the violin. There's also some issues with Suzuki leaving things out. Gavotte at the end of book one has a bunch of 16th notes that come out of nowhere. There is no preparation for the song, and no exercises.

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