From almost day one of my violin playing I've had a deep and strange love for etudes. I began collecting the most popular books (Sevcik,Schradieck,Mazas) and even some lesser known books (Sauret,Fiorillo, Ernst) with the intentions of studying and mastering them all. As ambitious as this sounds, it is simply impractical and unnecessary to develop long lasting skills.
Instead of taking on a monster set of about 20 books, I'm going to pick and choose which etudes I need according to skill, difficulty, and key. I guess you could call it a prescription. I'm not a doctor but I think of etudes as medicine for your fingers. When you diagnose the problems you're having in your playing it makes it a whole lot easier to train and eventually fix those problems.
Another strange thing I've noticed is that certain etudes aren't just less popular, but are ignored altogether. Take the 12 Rode etudes. We all know his world famous 24 etudes are incredible and absolutely necessary for every violinist to study, but what about his other set of 12? Odds are you've never heard them, yet they are just as melodic and technically jaw dropping as any of the 24. (I strongly suggest you listen to the Nicolas Koeckert recordings btw.)
Today it is becoming more and more difficult for classical musicians and violinists especially to separate themselves from the rest of the crowd. By practicing these forgotten etudes you can gain experience in areas in which others are lacking. The influences from the different styles will mold you into a more well rounded player. Take Hilary Hahn for example. It's documented that she studied Gavines's 24 Matinees, yet they are still ignored in modern teaching. I can't even find a recording of them!
I don't know about the rest of you but I'm going to expose myself to as many different etudes as possible for the diversity and also for the fun of it. Etudes are a beautiful and valuable thing to have. Why not make the most of them?
More entries: October 2013
Violinist.com is made possible by...
Discover the best of Violinist.com in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews.