Best way to learn western classical music on the violin if you already know another classical genre

October 4, 2016 at 02:46 PM · I play a couple of instruments including the violin, keyboard, sitar, guitar, tabla, and studied Indian classical on the violin for a couple of years with the guidance of a good teacher, and since I went upto the advanced level, I have a decent command on intonation and bowing techniques and can also perform a couple of western violin techniques like vibrato, spiccato, staccato, legato etc. Although I have a decent understanding of western classical music theory, I can at times struggle at reading music quickly since most of Indian classical music deals with hearing and playing pieces by ear and since I have had perfect pitch when I was a kid, I can play songs by ear too. I am at this time practicing to become fluent at reading music quickly.

Where do I start? I do not intend to become a professional musician but want to be able to play difficult pieces like the 24 caprices of Paganini at the specified tempo and I can't do that now. So, I have some goals in mind. Should I enrol for the Trinity College/ABRSM grade based exams? Are they worth it? If not, apart from finding a teacher, what books/strategies/resources do I use so that I can systematically develop my skill at playing western classical on the violin?

Replies (6)

October 4, 2016 at 03:26 PM · I think find a teacher that is a western classical player, make sure he/she understands that you are already an advanced player (some teachers tend to set every new student in beginning things). I think play your pieces to the teacher before so they notice your level. If its a good teacher they should help you with books and study planning etc. Otherwise en general i think Carl Fleschs book called skalensystem is a good overview of how things are built up (some might not like that though).

October 4, 2016 at 07:19 PM · First and foremost, find a good teacher. Second, simply as a listener, steep yourself in loads and loads of good classical music to get a feel for it. Don't only listen to solo violinists. Listen to chamber music, pianists, orchestral music, Opera, etc. YouTube is the easiest resource.

Take things a step at a time. You can go to YouTube and find complete Paganini caprices performed by this one and that one and the other and get the erroneous idea that every other professional violinist can do this whereas that's very far from the truth. Some top solo artists have never or rarely performed or recorded all or any of them.

I can sympathize from the opposite direction. I am Western violinist who, as it so happens, always liked Indian music. At one point I took a few private lessons in Indian violin playing. It was very interesting and quite different.

October 5, 2016 at 02:13 PM · @Fideli S. The book that you have suggested is really awesome. It has got all the scales, double stops etc (in higher positions too). The book really looks like a violin bible. Thanks

@Raphael. Apart from finding a good teacher, what are the other resources through which I can learn and improve. There are a humongous amount of books on the market like Suzuki (Vol 1-10), The Doflein Method, Kayser Elementary and Progressive Studies etc. What are the best ones in your opinion?

October 5, 2016 at 06:18 PM · This is a little like asking an online doctor what is the best medicine to take. Far and away, the teacher is the most important thing. Are there any qualified teachers near you?

October 6, 2016 at 02:56 AM · @Raphael. Yes. But I guess they train you for violin based exams (grades 1-8) conducted by Trinity College London, ABRSM etc.

October 7, 2016 at 12:46 PM · So you live in London? If so, there must be so many teachers to choose from. Explain your situation and goals to any prospective teacher.


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