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Lora Staples

Professor V Says to Practice Naked

August 23, 2010 at 5:31 PM

Ok, maybe Professor V-- violinist Todd Ehle -- didn't say to practice naked, but he said Paul Rolland said to practice naked. Read the interview below to learn more about his wonderful personal philosophies on teaching, learning, and staying healthy.

Professor V's violin instruction videos on YouTube are gaining a lot of well-deserved attention. They are excellent, practical instruction that violin students worldwide rely on. I wanted to know what makes him tick, so Red Desert Violin virtually "sat down" with Professor V for an in-depth interview. (And I highly recommend that you click on his links to take advantage of his wonderful resources.)

If you enjoy this interview and would like some cool freebies like a printable Daily Practice Diary template and "The Ultimate Beginners Guide to Practicing the Violin", come visit Red Desert!

About your philosophy of teaching, you said something that is near and dear to my own heart. You said, "I follow the Suzuki ideal that every child can learn if the home environment is supportive. I also believe that creating a well-rounded student is more important than creating a competition-winning student. I believe that students that develop a love for the arts will potentially enjoy a richer life." How do you apply that philosophy to your teaching style, and can you share an example of this philosophy in action, perhaps from your teaching experiences at Del Mar College?

I understand that parents of young violinists must create a supportive environment with a structured practice routine, but what sort of "proper environment" can independent students (with no parental oversight) create for themselves? Any suggestions?

I know of some students who succeeded despite their inferior teachers, and some students who failed despite their fabulous teachers. Could you comment on this phenomenon, specifically for students who might be questioning the effectiveness of their teacher?

You said it's the teacher's job to motivate students. Can you share a couple tools you use to motivate? Also, by "motivate", do you also mean "inspire"?

Could you give us your ideas or guidelines on when a student should "stick it out" with a teacher, versus some red flags or tell-tale signs that they should consider changing teachers?

Your teaching derives a lot from Paul Rolland's teaching approach. It has been said that Rolland's Teaching of Action in String Playing has influenced your instruction videos. Could you share the basic gist of Rolland's book and how it influenced your teaching?

Speaking of different teaching methods, would you please tell us your thoughts on blending methods and why you choose not to adhere to just one?

Not only have you drawn from other methods, but you recently started creating your own method, based on the folk tune, "Mary Had a Little Lamb." Could you describe your method, tell us what makes it unique, and why you felt it necessary to create it?

Strad Magazine recently gave you kudos for your online instructional videos, which have been viewed by millions. In your experience, what are the strengths and weaknesses of online instruction?

You've been very open about your neck and shoulder problems. Do you have any advice for violinists that might help them to avoid those same problems?

Can you offer any violin-specific motions/positions to take precautions with, or "red flags" to watch out for, in order to be pro-active in preventing over-use or tension injuries?

You also play Irish Fiddle. How did you learn to play in that style? Any thoughts on joining a band?

In addition to Classical, Baroque, and Irish style, you also have artwork online. Can you talk a little about your artistic diversity and share other hobbies you might have?

Care to share your future plans with us?

You have been working on recording some Baroque pieces, including works by Biber, which involves some "scordatura" tuning, making recordings of his work somewhat uncommon. When do we get to hear your recent Baroque recordings?

From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on August 23, 2010 at 5:49 PM

Hi, what a wonderful interview! Interesting and instructive.  But it still didn't convince me to try Mr Rolland's practice methods ; )   I never heard that it wasn't possible to see if you are placed ok with clothes on???  Especially if the clothes are your size! 

On another topic, I agree so much about having a nice little "inspiring" place to practice with posters and violin items everywhere.  Especially if you are the only musician in the family, it becomes even more important to get motivated!  


From Sara McDowell
Posted on August 24, 2010 at 2:55 AM

Excellent interview.  I enjoy Professor V's videos very much.  Oh, how I wish I lived in Corpus Christi!

From Clif Fiske
Posted on August 24, 2010 at 3:54 PM

Good day all:

Superb interview.  Mr Ehle was my primary resource at the outset of my violin adventure(Jan 08).

Six months later I found a private instructor, but still view his videos regularly. 

He even answered a couple of my emails.  It is a special person who takes the time to give so much to the great unwashed. Thank you Mr. Ehle and

From al ku
Posted on August 24, 2010 at 10:29 PM

that is just so wrong!  i mean, swimsuits won't do??? :)

From Michael Felzien
Posted on August 25, 2010 at 5:36 AM


I suppose I'm kind of a follower.  I've watched most of your videos and I really feel that you have aided the violin community by your willingness to teach beginner to intermediate students the basics in a way that is helpful and supportive.  You teach with a non-confrontational and supportive way.  Though I suppose many of the “violin-superstars” won’t agree with your approach, I believe it cannot be denied that you have done a tremendous amount of good for the greater community of violinists.  I suspect that you will be further rewarded as the community catches on to what you have accomplished on YouTube.  Thank you for your insights and help.

Thanks for your YouTube posts on Kreutzer and the demonstrations… any Dont, Rode, or Paganini in the works? 

It would be interesting to post a video on the Dounis “Daily Dozen” warm ups. 


Thanks again.

Mike Felzien

From Tess Z
Posted on August 26, 2010 at 3:22 AM

I too am a fan of Professor V.  Great concept and the popularity of Todd Ehle's videos is testament to their success with students of the violin.  I agree with Todd that his videos should be used as supplementation to a real life teacher...but for students where that is not possible, Professor V is there to help; and that help is free.  Professor V has made the violin world a more user friendly place.

From Royce Faina
Posted on August 27, 2010 at 9:07 PM

I read once that Winston Churchill practiced his piano Naked.  I attended Del Mar in Corpus Christi, Texas (I grew up there!) as a music major and I didn't practice the violin naked.... I got my Nursing Degree at Del Mar.

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