Push through the book or practice more on each piece?
Hi everybody, I'm an adult learner and I started learning violin about 6 months ago, and I'm already at the end of Suzuki book 2.
I've been taking classes at a local music school, and I'm just not so sure about my teacher's methods. He gave me about 1-2 weeks on each piece, and I was feeling good about the pace until today because I read that beginner usually spend 2 years on Suzuki book 1 and 2, which is a lot more than what I did... Now I'm questioning if spending more time on each piece would be better than quickly going through all of them? And also I'm trying to learn vibrato now, is it too early to start?
Please give me some advice, thank you very much!
It is impossible to say if you are going too fast without hearing you play. Keep in mind that adult students often learn faster than kids in the beginning (assuming they have time to practice) because they are able to intellectually engage with what they are doing in a way that most kids aren't ready for.
Take it slow in the beginning. Learning the basics well will allow you to rapidly accelerate in the future. If you develop bad habits due to rushing, you will be stuck with them for years to come. I have been playing the violin for 7-8ish years and I still struggle with a correct bow hold and vibrato because I rushed the basics.
An adult beginner who is practicing every day will generally not need a whole year for each Suzuki book. But two books in six months is brisk. Definitely do not rush the beginning stages because you will not get the fundamentals right. The aim is to learn to play the violin properly.
Darn. My screen did something and my reply disappeared.
2 books in six months seems a little quick. I too started about 6 months ago and reached book 1 Perpetual Motion about a week ago. Everyone learns at different speeds and have different abilities- so it is hard to generalize what your training speed should be.
Suzuki teachers that I know teach shifting before vibrato. Shifting starts near the start of Book 3 with Humoresque in the Suzuki program.
Sounds like you are cracking through the pieces quickly.
Suzuki just rolled in his grave.
I generally teach vibrato when the student is comfortable in 3rd position. I think most teachers do as well. It's because the motion is a little easier to learn when the hand is against the body of the violin.
There's no set speed for working through the books, although the "race mentality" is definitely a thing. There's such a wide range, it is difficult to compare though. I get plenty of students who show up for a trial and say "I'm in book x!" and their bow strokes, shifting, vibrato, posture, etc. are non-existent...to the point where it's apparent that they might have learned the music, but not how to play the violin.
I found that people with prior music reading experience may progress faster than average if they have (and use) "good ears" and are physically "competent." I had an adult cello student (with prior woodwind and sight-singing experience) who with good ears and physicality got to book 7 in 10 months. She was just doing everything well - and then she moved to the other side of the country. Her boyfriend who was taking violin lessons from me at the same time and also had woodwind experience (but not as much) and no singing experience made it to book 4 in the same time, but like most adult violin beginners had some physical awkwardness on the instrument.
Comparison with others is necessary for young profession-oriented violinists, since they have to have clear sense where they stand in fierce competitions. It is absolutely no positive value for adult learners to compare themselves with others.
I disagree that there's no value for adult students to compare themselves to others.
Lydia I agree with you in principle. My observation, however, is that the most likely outcome is just getting discouraged.
Well, getting discouraged by comparing with others is a problem that underlies my principle of do-not-compare-with-others. Most unhappiness in life comes from comparing with others. Often such comparisons are not fair ones: we know pretty much everything about ourselves but very little about others in terms of personal history, family/educational/financial/social backgrounds, etc.
Everything we do should sound nice, to ourselves and to others.
Getting a decent vibrato and fluent shifting (the two tend to go together) is a sign that relaxation in the left arm and hand is as it should be, and in that case the bowing arm will tend to follow suit if it hasn't already.
I have thoughts about this that go both ways, but I think it depends on the student's level of playing. On the one hand, working on every piece to "performance level" is one way to go. On the other hand, after getting your basic level sufficient for others to enjoy the sounds you make and then reading through pieces and getting to a point where you can play through them and play as many as you can is another.
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