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James Plattes

What is the ultimate goal as far as taking violin lessons?

November 10, 2010 at 9:00 PM

I will sometimes ask the student, "what's the ultimate goal of your violin study?"  I want them to think about this very important question.  I believe that the ultimate goal of taking lessons is to get to the point where you will be able to teach yourself.  Teach yourself to learn or improve a technique, or learn a particular piece.  Teach yourself to be self critical, and analyze how you play and sound.  It's a good aiming point, in my opinion.  To get to this point you first need a sound technique and years of study.  You need good teachers and a wealth of performance experience. 

this is only my opinion.  This can be mentioned to a highly motivated student, that really enjoys playing the instrument.  It's good to have  an ultimate goal.  This goal takes years of study to achieve.  When and if this point is reached depends upon the dreams and goals of the student.  I just want to put this out there as a start to a discussion of the ultimate motivation and goals of our students.  Music is a vitally important part of our lives.  I enjoy sharing my sense of the importance of this art with students and parents.  This art makes for well rounded individuals. 

From Julian Stokes
Posted on November 11, 2010 at 2:39 PM

"Life is a journey,
A never ending road.
To travel in hope
Is better than to arrive, I'm told"

And my musical quest is like that.

From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on November 11, 2010 at 7:48 PM

Hi, as a student, I would say that beeing able to "teach" yourself is definitivly a very very important goal.  Though that could mean... "Hey, in 15 years, I'll quit studying with my teacher and will be as free as wind..."   Not so sure!  

Maybe, if you play like Itzhak Perlman, you can resonably quit your teacher and learn exclusivly by yourself!  But for everyone that is not that level... Many symphony players still have a lesson once in  a while to be sure they think ok about their playing or don't do something bad they don't notice.  A very advanced student can skip weeks of lessons but to quit them totally could lead to unconscious laziness...  Nothing makes someone at the top of his/her abilities like this slight kick in the _ _ _ we have when we have to prepare something for a lesson or a performance!  

Just my humble advice (perhaps some will disagree but that's find too!)


From Janis Cortese
Posted on November 11, 2010 at 8:21 PM

For me, the ultimate goal is to become fluent.  To have the instrument itself disappear as an obstacle between me and whatever I may want to say on it.

Yeah, while I'm dreaming I'd like a million dollars and a pony ...

From di allen
Posted on November 13, 2010 at 4:37 PM

i am not sure this is a fair question to ask a beginning student.  how is she to know?  i just say, to my teacher, 'i want to play like you' - this draws a blank stare.  it is not too likely, as he's played since childhood, and i am 60 yrs old....why not say, 'i want to play as well as i can and am committed to practicing and trying'?

From Jim Hastings
Posted on November 13, 2010 at 8:00 PM

James, your blog and the responses above mine echo some ideas I've been mulling over for a while now.

The first paragraph lines up with what one of my teachers said: "Never be satisfied.  Always be very critical of yourself."  And the goal of being able to teach myself -- this clearly echoes what I heard as a student.  I heartily agree with this outlook -- it will always be a goal of mine.  Thank goodness for the teachers who helped to make this happen -- or, at least, got me started on this path.  It never ends.

Although I completed a degree program in violin performance, I've lately considered re-starting regular lessons with a teacher in spring 2011.  I envision this being more of a coaching venture.  Sometimes I really miss having the second opinion in a 1:1 session with a professional -- someone who can push me beyond what I thought I could do and help me communicate even better as a player.

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