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The Weekend Vote

V.com weekend Vote: Did you ever have a violin teacher who used fear to motivate you?

January 23, 2015 11:19

These days, teachers are pretty nice.

I have not seen recent masterclasses where a teacher publicly rips a person to shreds, or heard of many private lessons where the teacher rages at the student every week. Certainly, times have changed. People like Suzuki encouraged "nurturing with love" and higher-level teachers like Dorothy DeLay couched criticisms with "Sugar Plum, what is your concept of F#?"

And yet, the violin has a long, proud (?) history of tyrannical teachers!

Kreutzer Fit

It can make for amusing stories when it's all in the past, but it's not too fun when you are terrified to go to a lesson for fear of being yelled at angrily, humiliated, etc. I'm sure that teachers still use fear to get results from students; I'm pretty sure that it was used more in the "olden days" than it is now.

I was fortunate that the teachers I had as a child were quite kind. Now, in college -- I did have one good, old-fashioned yeller. I liked him quite a lot, but it was occasionally pretty stressful!

Did you ever have a teacher who used fear to motivate you? Or one who regularly became angry, one who yelled and scared you into playing well? In the comments, you can describe!

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28 replies

V.com weekend vote: From what century is the last piece you just played on your violin?

January 16, 2015 12:24

In which musical century have you been spending your time?

Way way Bach

The last time you picked up your violin, to practice or perform, exactly what did you play? And for our vote, the question is: from what century?

For example, the last time I played my violin, I practiced the last movement of Bach's Sonata No. 3 in C, which was written around 1720. So my answer would be 18th c. If you were practicing a passage from a Tchaikovsky symphony for orchestra, those were written in the late 19th century, so the answer would be 19th c. If you were playing "Allegro" by Suzuki; Suzuki wrote the little pieces for his books in the 20th century, so the answer would be 20th c. If, last night you performed the Mendelssohn concerto, that was around 1845, so 19th c.

You might need to do some googling, but I'm interested to see the range of living history that's taking place in our practice studios, rehearsal rooms and concert halls. After all, this is one of the most phenomenal things about playing classical music: its capacity to connect us to the past, and in such a visceral way. Music conceived in the past can unfold in the present. The voice of someone who lived hundreds of years ago can speak through our instruments. Wow!

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16 replies

V.com weekend vote: How many bows have you broken?

January 9, 2015 08:00

That's right, I'm assuming that at least some of you have broken a bow. When we took this poll seven years ago, 46 percent of respondents had broken a bow, and one confessed to breaking more than a half-dozen! I ask this after the unfortunate news this week about the J. Henry bow owned by Leonidas Kavakos.

broken bow

Breaking a bow is no fun, and I speak from experience: I've broken two. Fortunately, they were both mine, and they were both student-level bows. The first time, I tripped over the bow, which I was holding "properly" with the tip straight down, while climbing stairs after a youth orchestra concert. After that, I stopped holding my bow "properly," I never point it straight down! The second time, I was winding my bow before playing. This is not normally considered a risky activity, but my bow was old and weak, and the tip simply snapped off. Distressing! Both bows were total losses.

I've witnessed other people break bows as well. When I was teaching in a classroom, a student dropped his bow on the floor and the stick snapped in half, as if someone had broken it over a knee. Strange phenomenon! It had dropped flat on the floor, not in a way that seemed like it would split in two. And the child really wasn't goofing off, it just slipped from his hand. It was a cheap bow, and I had to assume there was a weakness in the wood. Thankfully, the cheap outfit had come with two cheap bows, so there was another he could use!

How about you? Has it happened, and if so, did it happen more than once?

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27 replies

V.com weekend vote: Did any of your New Year's resolutions involve the violin?

January 2, 2015 21:21

When two of my young students walked in today for a lesson, their mother announced with convincing drama, "They've practiced every day this year!"


I was quite impressed, until I realized -- this year is only a few days old!

But why not give it a good start, why not make a practice resolution? A few days down, just 360+ to go, we can do this!

How about you, did you have any violin-related resolutions this year?

9 replies

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