From Daniel Blomdahl
Posted June 13, 2006 at 08:56 PM
I am somewhat familiar with the Jaffe method. It is a video program designed to provide a way for homeschoolers and missionary children - or other people who don't have access to violin instruction - to teach themselves to play.
My personal opinion on the Jaffe method is, if you're a missionary family in the Congo with no other way to learn, it is a God-send. Another reason people may chose to use the Jaffe method is because it is created and taught from a Christian perspective. But if you have a desire to have anything other than an introduction to the very basics, you really should seriously consider private instruction.
Just my $0.02.
But I'm really interested in your take in it. After all, you've already done it a little bit it seems.
It is a good alternative for beginners. It is probably a little cheaper than a teacher. It is also a quicker method than learning from a teacher. You learn songs right from the beginning. I would like to take the course in person but it is good right from the tv. If you have any questions I'll try to answer them.
On the other hand, perhaps the risks of learning the "wrong" way (for lack of a better word) are justified when you're in a missionary family working abroad, or, like me, unable to find a teacher, for whatever reason. It's a tough question. But my own personal experience has always been that teachers teach better than videos.
As far as fast forwarding past things, if a teacher is telling you something, it is because they see something you don't. The sooner you're willing to submit to everything they say, the better you will progress. I'm preaching to myself here, too.
Also, I have a huge problem with the vast majority of students learning positions or vibrato in just the first year of playing. The foundation is just not built yet.
If you define, as you do, foundation as being "holding, bowing, reading music", well you could already read music from your previous instruments, and that's a skill anybody could learn, holding is just the act of keeping the violin up while balanced on your collar bone, and bowing is just drawing the bow across the strings.
I could teach anybody to hold the violin and bow in about an hour. Would you say then that their foundation is built?
Holding the violin is the most basic element of violin playing, and one that is more or less correct in every violinist. It is significantly more difficult to learn to move your fingers around the fingerboard, in all the combinations and positions.
I seriously doubt your ability to have learnt "bowing" from any video. Bowing is quite possibly the most difficult aspect of violin playing, and one that professionals struggle with their entire lives. I doubt any professional violinist will tell you that his bowing technique is "built".
My first teacher claimed that he had taught me a solid foundation, and indeed I could play a lot of repertoire with relative ease. My second teacher then worked on that foundation quite a lot and worked a lot on musical aspects of playing (you realize that violin playing is about playing musically, not just hammering out approximations of the notes on the page, right?)
When I arrived at my present teacher, she declared that I had absolutely no foundation whatsoever. That, while I could manage my way round a lot of repertoire, and had just finished learning the Tchaikovsky concerto, and I had received 95% for my Grade 8 Royal Schools Exams, of which most of that missing 5% came from my poor aural results. But for her, I had no foundation whatsoever.
For her, and of course for myself now too, foundation is the ability to move your left hand around the fingerboard with the greatest efficiency and ease (and in tune), with full independence and co-ordination between the fingers and other parts of the left arm, and between the left and right arm. It is also the ability to effortlessly move the bow arm in whatever combination is required by the music, and the ability to paint shades and colours and articulate, and to co-ordinate vibrato shadings with the bow arm.
As you see, her definition of "foundation" is technical mastery, with the "real work" supposed to be on the musical interpretation.
Sorry if I'm coming across rather harshly but I, and possibly many other members on this board, am rather annoyed by your assumption that from a mere video, you can claim that your foundation is "built" and that you know when a foundation is built because you played two instruments before the violin and therefore you know what the definition of foundation for violin is.
I have also played piano, and trust me that it is incomparable the amount of work to get to a "basic" level of piano and violin. In six months on piano you can have a fairly good foundation because it the main difficulty in piano (technically) is simply to move the correct finger at the correct time, as Mozart put it. Anybody with good co-ordination can reach a good level on piano, at least technically.
Piano does not require nearly as much hearing as violin does. In piano you are either playing the correct note or the wrong note, it is just a matter of how hard you hit the note and how long you hit it for, that is ALL! Ok, and whether you use pedal or not.
I wish you good luck in double majoring in piano and violin, but please don't expect to get in if you have only six months of tuition (was that also from a video?) on piano and tuition on violin entirely from a video series. Unless you are some Rubinstein/Heifetz combination it is highly unlikely, and you will need to get some intense tutoring in both instruments before you will be up to level.
Again, please don't take offense, I am just being very frank and am trying to help you not to mislead yourself.
One of the pros is not having to practice. The lessons are about an hour and a half. You practice on two or three songs each lesson, and go over and over and over and over and over and over and over the song. So you don't have to practice.
I have been playing piano for 6 years. I think I have enough knowledge to know whether or not I can pursue this. I also know my limits. But at PCC they require all music majors to take either violin, viola, cello, or bass. You think because that you've played longer than me that you know more. ANd that might be true but I think what I can challenge my self with. And I know what will make me progress. I have many comments from people in my church who said that I am playing great for the time I have been playing. This one lady played for all her life and her father made a couple of violins and a cello. She said that I am great, even though I am using the video program. It is a great program , taught by a master teacher.
In 1993, Dr. Jaffe moved with his wife to Pensacola, FL at the invitation of the president of PCC to record his strings method on video, with the idea of making this method available to homeschool students who had little or no access to another strings program. There are only two foundational years of instruction which is to be followed, for the interested student, by private instruction.
The programs have been used in this way in homeschool settings as well as in private schools where there is a live teacher working through the videos with the students. My son took both years of Jaffe strings and is now in his third year of private cello lessons. He is doing very well, having won the Pensacola Sonata contest for the past two years in cello for his division. My daughter is in the second year of Jaffe on the violin. She also is doing well.
There is no expectation that students will be instructed by the videos for all their training, but that they will get foundational instruction in a setting that will keep them interested in playing. It also gives the lone homeschool student access to a group of video classmates, which may encourage them to practice more than by themselves.
I hope this helps give a better overview of the purpose of this specific type of video instruction.
Violinist.com Editor Laurie Niles is in New York to cover the biennial event at The Juilliard School, including classes by Brian Lewis and Sarah Chang.
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