Intermediate Progression List

December 6, 2017, 2:05 PM · The current mega-thread on teaching got me thinking about my own teaching ability, and made me realize that I probably have more holes in my overall awareness of the "long game" of violin than I'd like to admit. I feel very competent to train violinists up to approximately a Suzuki book 5 level, but even if I don't ever plan on going beyond that level with a student, I'd still like to know what lies ahead so I can better prepare them for it. In my own training, a lot of intermediate steps were skipped. I think my viola repertoire jumps looked something like "Vocalise, then Symphonia concertante, then Bartok viola concerto" with a few steps in between that I can't exactly remember at this moment.

So, in exploring this idea, I was curious if any of the more advanced violin teachers here have a certain "script" they tend to follow with students that have progressed into intermediate territory and are looking to get to a solid "Advanced" level.

I ask this question with the disclaimer that I'm very aware that each student is different, and so there's not going to be a set "Script" for every student. But with that said, I'm sure that most of you have a "tree" of progression that you tend to follow in order to properly lead a violin student up to the advanced level from the "Vivaldi A Minor" intermediate level.

If you could list studies, pieces, and perhaps what you consider relevant scales in a somewhat linear fashion it would help my overall understanding far more than you know :) Plus I'm just a bit curious on how different teachers might lead a student to that level, because I know there must be some degree of variance from one instructor to another.

PS: Please don't say "suzuki book 6, then suzuki book 7, etc..."

Replies (14)

December 6, 2017, 2:45 PM · You can look up the syllabi for exam boards like RCM, ABRSM, AMEB, etc, look into some pieces, and decide for yourself. It's time-consuming work, but it's worth it if you're willing to put the effort in, as opinions on such topics can be quite controversial due to differences in perception. Forum members other than myself can put out some suggestions for you to look into. At this stage, three-octave scales should be introduced.
December 6, 2017, 2:47 PM · Based on my own personal experience, which involved a longer intermediate stage than I think is typical, the intermediate stage is basically the grounding in the full range of commonly-used technique for the violin. That means left-hand fluency across most of the fingerboard, and specific instruction in all of the right-hand techniques, and then the coordination between the two -- along with developing musicianship and some thoughtful grounding in thinking about how to play, like developing a notion of bow division, when to shift (and when to use an expressive shift), etc.

Kreutzer is the core book of technique that's commonly used. Most teachers won't do every etude with every student, of course. It usually gets supplemented with Flesch scales (although there are plenty of alternative scale-book options), and sometimes Schradieck, Sevcik, and things like Trott's Melodious Double Stops.

There are some staples of the intermediate repertoire -- the Bach A minor, the Accolay concerto, Viotti concertos (especially 22 and 23), De Beriot (especially 7 and 9, and the Scene de Ballet), and the Vitali Chaconne, for instance. Kreisler is common, especially the Praeludium & Allegro. There's a lot to choose from at this level, though, especially the upper end of the intermediate level, where you get into the mainstream recital repertoire.

My impression is that there's less linearity at this level, because of the range of things that need to be taught, especially in the right hand. For instance, most students will do some kind of perpetual-motion piece for continuous spiccato, but that doesn't need to be linearly sequenced, per se.

December 6, 2017, 2:47 PM · I find this list extremely helpful.

Edited: December 6, 2017, 3:03 PM · Kreisler Liebislied (please correct spelling if need be) and Seitz and some Vivaldi Concertos are fairly common at this stage, as well as other small works e.g Sicilienne by Paradis, Meditation from Thais, etc.
December 6, 2017, 3:11 PM · Hi Erik. Have you taken any formal Suzuki training? I think there is a lot of discussion during that training about supplementary material that can be used in conjunction with the books. And it gives your teaching more direction. Each of the books look forward to new skills, as well as look back on skills already learned but applied differently.
December 6, 2017, 5:50 PM · Hey Mary, I tried to open the PDF list but it's giving me a 404 (error).

Do you have another pathway to the list, or perhaps you've saved it in the past? I got real excited reading the explanation leading up to the list, but yeah, it's not working :(

December 6, 2017, 9:17 PM · Erik-message me your email and I'll send you the pdf.
December 6, 2017, 11:16 PM · Hey Mary, I can't figure out how to PM you, so I'll just give me email here (it's public knowledge anyways, since my business is very much an online one).

Hope I don't get in trouble for posting it :)

December 6, 2017, 11:48 PM · Roland Herrera who runs a very fine violin studio in England (westbury park strings) has compiled a very useful list of repertoire that complements the abrsm levels. Unfortunately his website is no longer running. The content can still be reached via web archive:

@Ella Yu: It's Kreisler, Liebesleid (Love's Sorrow. Liebeslied means lovesong). This does get misspelled a lot (yet I suppose not as much as Wohlfahrt ;-))

Edited: December 7, 2017, 4:29 AM · Hi, if anyone is interested in the list that Mary Ellen suggests, here is it. (I don't know whether it's the correct one). The link and file are free of viruses, to the best of my knowledge.

P/S with my limited experience I wonder why Thais Meditation ranked pretty high on the list.

December 7, 2017, 6:06 AM · I think it's because younger kids who might be very advanced technically still have trouble grasping the concept of schmaltz.
December 7, 2017, 7:13 AM · Meditation from Thais can sound pretty awful if the student hasn't mastered shifts and positions above third position, and/or if the student doesn't have the bow control to produce a beautiful sound using a slow bow.
December 7, 2017, 7:23 AM · Have you seen this list yet?

You could also start out simple with something simple for repertoire like combining the repertoire in the Suzuki books, supplemented or substituted with the repertoire from Barbara Barber's Solos for Young Violinists series. Between these two resources a student who can play these well, would be on the cusp of starting Romantic Concertos and have a pretty well-rounded exposure to styles and techniques.

You could do the same thing for viola (although I think there are a lot more standards, such as the Stamitz/Hoffmeister, that are missing from both the Suzuki and the Barber viola books, and a lot of the Barber isn't really that standard (although most pieces seem worth studying)). I do think that the Suzuki viola books are a little more complete as far as a variety of styles (probably because they were compiled after a lot of copyright restrictions were lifted) but are still understandably lacking in the 20th century music that is such an important part of the viola repertoire.

I don't generally teach a lot of etudes, but there is a pretty much accepted standard progression of: Wohlfart, Kayser, Mazas, Kreutzer that can be used on both violin and viola (although for viola you might include some Palaschko, Fuchs, and Campagnoli caprices).

For scales in 2 octaves, either the Barber scales for young violinists/violists or Essential Technique (essential Elements book 3).

For Scales in 3-octaves, I like to start with just using a transposable finger pattern, and then transfer to the Barber Scales for advanced violinists/violists and if you want, to Flesch/Galamian.

I also recently discovered Kristen Wartberg's "Enjoying Violin Technique" which basically lays out how to practice Flesch scales and Sevcik shifting, along with a few other technical exercises and fun piano/CD accompaniments. This seems like a great resource for teachers and students in jumping the hurdle to more advanced scale study.

December 7, 2017, 8:20 AM · I think Lydia is spot on. The answer is technique so that you are ready to start on the journey to advanced level.

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