Conflict between teachers
I, personally, play without the chin and shoulder rests.
I recently had a teacher demand I change my bow hold, and put on chin and shoulder rests.
At a loss what I should do, as I'm being told this by a big time violin teacher at a large conservatory. A violin performer/private teacher told me to play whatever way is most comfortable and lets me gets the notes out clearly and correctly.
What should I do?
Before asking for a radical changes in setup and technique, the teacher absolutely must listen and observe the student's playing. If he or she judges that further progress is unlikely without thess changes, this must be both explained and demonstrated.
Presumably you are taking lessons from this teacher for a reason? My approach would be to try it his/her way before blowing the righteous indignation gasket.
Agree with Adrian. Can you get an explanation of exactly why teacher A demands you to use a chin rest and shoulder rest and change your bow hold? Shoulder rest and chin rest preferences must be adjusted to fit your physique, except if you're specializing in baroque permance.
I don't know what your bow hold looks like, and no shoulder rest and chin rest is definitely non standard. I would be gobsmacked if you didn't have technical issues related to your setup. Absolutely gobsmacked. And I would for sure want to see a video of a player with flawless technique and no chin/shoulder rest/odd bow hold.
Bow hold sounds like a separate matter, especially since we can't see your hold. But, regarding CR and SR, especially if you've had the comparison of playing with and without them and found that playing without works better for you, then stand your ground.
Jack, it says in your profile that you are a teacher. I think the logic of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" is pretty sound, but it's possible that your teacher has a specific reason for asking for you to use these that relates specifically to some issues in your technique. It's also possible that your teacher believes that these two tools are necessary to play at a high level, and there is nothing currently wrong with your playing. I'm curious about what you teach your own students?
I find chin rest and shoulder rest discussions to be controversial to the point that I think physique is the #1 consideration. After all, shoulder rests and chin rests are optional, and they're only aids to help us hold up our violins (and violas for that matter).
@christian I teach composition, not violin itself above the level of beginner.
I think this all depends on your skill level. What type of music are you playing right now?
We go to teachers for a reason. If you don't like the teaching philosophy of your present teacher, find another. Sooner or later you will find someone who will teach you what you want to be taught.
When I started having violin lessons about 10 years ago my violin teacher was naturally expecting me to use a SR, but raised no objections then or later when I said that I had been playing Irish fiddle without a SR for the previous 5 years. This was at the stage when the details of my posture and holds were being sorted out properly, and the absence of a SR was therefore taken into account during the process. Some years later I started experimenting with no CR, my teacher raising no objection (possibly because of her deep experience in the folk music world as well as classical), and I now feel comfortable and at ease without one - although I do use one for most of my orchestral work.
I should probably add: she should have explained her reasons for having you change something. I hate teachers who just tell but don't explain.
I agree with Erik. If a teacher wants to change something about a student's technique/position, there's got to be an explanation.
Trevor wrote, "So, how did violinists cope before 1820?"
Okay ..... So, the OP tells us his teacher "at a large conservatory" wants him to change his bow hold and his setup. That's what conservatory teachers do.
Lol Rocky. Indeed.
"Circa 1820 the CR was invented by Louis Spohr."
Re Paul's comment: "'So, how did violinists cope before 1820?' Part of the answer, I believe, is that they weren't trying to play Brahms, Mendelssohn, Paganini, Prokofiev, etc. Even the Beethoven concerto, which was composed around 1806, was not really in full circulation until around 1850."
At first I thought the OP was a conservatory student. But now that I see it was a one-week camp, I'm surprised a teacher is trying to change setup this drastically. Unless of course it's necessary. We don't know because we haven't seen the OP play.
I'm trying to figure out what Jack Urban's status is. His bio seems to imply he's a working pro (teaching, and trying to do some performing), which makes the 1-week summer camp a little weird. But there are plausible explanations there -- for instance, a recent conservatory grad, attending a camp for young professionals. (He mentions performing in local orchestras, but that he's trying to get his foot in the door as a performer, so I'm guessing he's playing at the community level rather than freelancing.)
Oooh, oooh, I bet he's in his 60's!
In a separate thread, the OP states that he is starting his third year on the violin and plays the Bruch concerto as "simple warm up."
Hrm. I can't find the thread you're referring to, David.
Lydia, the thread was titled "Practicing - What else?" or something like that.
Interesting. Alert for Laurie: I'm not seeing that thread on a site search for "Jack Urban". Indexing may be partially broken.
It's this thread: http://www.violinist.com/discussion/thread.cfm?page=239
Possibly unpopular opinion incoming. This doesn't seem like your regular teacher, but if you somehow sought them out, and sought their instruction, then you've got to follow their instructions. It's nice if they explain things to you, but if they don't, so be it. Just do it.
This is not necessarily an unusual situation. Back in 1970, when I was still the fairly recently chosen concertmaster of our community orchestra, our newly hired conductor told me that i played well but that I held my bow in an unusual way. So I read a number of books on bowing (including the one Galamian had recently published) and spent about one month changing the way I held my bow (it was very difficult to continue playing at the same level during that transition). It paid off in my playing - I remained CM for 20 years. And using the cello bow hold for playing cello is the only way to avoid damaging physical problems for a cellist ---but it can work for much violin playing, if not all.
There is also this thread where he asks about the CR directly:
Summer camp teachers can sometimes impress their quirks/prejudices upon students, although it pretty much doesn't hurt to try their suggestions for the week you're spending with them, and see what you think. What might be initially uncomfortable may yield benefits if you work with it for a few days.
Indeed re: bow hold Lydia! What worked for me even a few months ago as being "good" is now being further refined and improved upon. I assume that one day it will be less of a hurdle? I certainly don't know, which is why I am following what my teacher says, no matter how strange (comparatively speaking) it feels right now.
I took a couple of lessons from an excellent and well-known teacher here in the area and one of the first things she did was get me to change my chinrest and my bow hold. These changes have definitely benefited my playing. All I can suggest to the OP is that you have to decide who you can trust, or, at the very least, try what is being suggested and see what works. You can always change back later.
Asking a student to *change* a chinrest may be quirky, may not be, but asking a student who is playing without a chinrest to add a chinrest is not quirky at all. It is mainstream.
Well, this all is in the realm of speculation with only a few details to chew on... who is in the know and who isn't?
When I was a teenager, my teacher (who I'd had for a while at that point) took a thoughtful look at my arms seemingly apropos of nothing during one lesson, and announced that he thought I needed a different chinrest, and that I should go to the violin-shop and try different ones until I found something more comfortable. He was right.
I don't think I'm any more dogmatic than most violin teachers, and I don't tell a student that they *must* get a particular CR or SR. Several times I have noticed that a student was naturally holding the violin with his/her chin on top of the tailpiece, and I have strongly suggested that that student consider changing to an over-the-tailpiece center mount chinrest (a style that I personally loathe because it is so uncomfortable for me). The students have, without exception, thanked me when they (sooner or later) got around to making the change because it was so much more comfortable for them.
The OP might be a country music fiddler who holds his instrument at breast level in which case both CR and SR are useless.
A country music fiddler who warms up on Bruch?
Thanks, Michael, I appreciate that. :-)
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