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A little waffle about sevcik

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Published: November 11, 2013 at 11:00 PM [UTC]

I think if used judiciously sevcik can be very helpful. There is no doubt about the value of man y of the exercises. I do have a very personal view on his works now which I am sure many peoples probably quite rightly will disagree with but will go ahead with anyway.
I feel his works have been surpassed in many areas.My reasoning behind this is that to me, his thinking was based on the idea that one simply had to identify everything that needed to be done and then practice it all. Of course this is actually unlimited so the whole system became huge and time consuming. And how does one prioritize one thing over another?
So what I felt happened is that more modern pedagogues went the other way and asked what is the minimalists most effective way of having a hyper efficient technique and crucially, how is it best learned by mere humans with limited powers of concentration?
One of the pioneers in this was I believe Robert Gerle. In his book, 'The Art of Practicing'he talks about learning a small number of finger patterns to conquer the fingerboard. Later on Drew lecher produced his manual on mastering violin technique which puts this into an almost perfect system. I say almost because it has been met with some resistance from some people on the grounds that it is a little abstruse. Actually this is only the case on very rare occasions and I have to say at the risk of offending people that it does simply require a little imagination and thought. In this sense it is in my opinion, superior to sevcik which tends to obviate the need for creativity, a point I will return to later.
From a purely technical perspective I am willing to go out on a limb and suggest that that one manual replaces the whole sevcik system perfectly, covering all the finger patterns, fingers down, vibrato, shifting, double stops one needs in a much more efficient manner. Drew has also argued? correctly in my opinion, that one should do ten minutes here and there throughout ones practice time for best resultes. This kind of highly focused, minimalist, creative work can replace a great deal of time one would normally spend on standard etudes. I am inclined to agree here too although I have been a diehard advocate of most etudes for years.
I don't think they replace Dont or Kreuzer though..........
Another personal and perhaps incorrect view I have of sevcik is based on observation of many violinists including some of the great players of the 20 c who have based their technique around the sevcik works. my gut feeling is that their artistic development was somewhat limited as a result. I have no evidence to supported his claim whatsoever, but one example that springs to mind is Accardo who plays like an angel on occasion but never quite seemed to have reached the level of artist he was really capable of. These days Czech violinists are common in Japan because of sister city connections. I hear many top players and teachers and regretfully I often find they combine flawless technique with playing that lacks real depth of feeling and creativity. They treat sevcik as mothers milk.
I note also in passing that Kogan stated 'the soviet system recognizes sevcik but prefers it's own exercises.' I would love to know what he was referring to....
Idle thoughts,

From Stephen Brivati
Posted on November 12, 2013 at 4:57 AM
I thought the Hilary Hahn interview was more interesting.
oh well......
Posted on November 12, 2013 at 6:40 AM
the secret is to do a little often, if one tries a lot one ends up brain dead....

From Corwin Slack
Posted on November 12, 2013 at 2:47 PM
We like Buri-Sensei posts. Always thoughtful. Thanks.
From George Philips
Posted on November 12, 2013 at 7:23 PM
I believe Yampolsky (Kogan's teacher) wrote a method book/series of exercises for violin. This may be what Kogan is referring to. More idle thoughts?
From Bryan Goodhead
Posted on November 14, 2013 at 5:25 AM
Hello Buri, I appreciate your article on Sevcik. Having taken to heart your writing on mastering 2nd and 4th positions, I'm certainly loving the Opus 6 right now. My last Simon Fischer book arrived today, "The Violin Lesson". I now have all four and I look forward to assimilating them as well. Wow, I feel a bit inundated! Where were these things when I was a kid? I shall look into your recommendation, "The Art of Practice". I recently acquired Galamian's book on my Kindle app. Fantastic, as well!

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