The Milanov Method: a new way of approaching the violin

August 30, 2020, 6:49 AM · Trendafil Milanov was a Bulgarian pedagogue who left an important legacy: a revolutionary method for teaching music. It was thanks to this method and his vision of musical education that many violin students would go on to have a worldwide career and to occupy important seats in some of the best orchestras around the world (a list of some of these prominent violinists: https://metodomilanov.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/lista-alumnos-del-metodo-milanov-english.pdf).

Every beginner, whatever the instrument, dreams of playing beautiful melodies from the beginning. The instrument, in the deepest way, should be an extension of the body and its capacities. Every teacher wants to find the best and easiest way to achieve the greatest results. Unfortunately, over the years, many violin methods have become a steeplechase, designed so that only through a tremendous amount of effort can a student achieve something as basic as shifting from first to third position.

The Milanov Method is completely different. The teacher guides the student to approach the most advanced techniques from the beginning, viewing them as games in order to execute them effortlessly.

The Milanov Method is based on several principles:

1. Music must be taught with music, starting by ear. Milanov makes a parallel with learning how to speak. The learning starts with imitation. The next stage is analysis, synthesis, and differentiating the components of the music, leading to the details of the theory.

2. Transposing is the key to training the ear and building the necessary knowledge to learn different key signatures.

3. Milanov demonstrated that the best age to start musical training is at 4 or 5 years old, but this doesn’t exclude older students. All material is adapted to the age specifics and psychological development of the children. Everything is done with games, which makes learning and teaching easier, faster, and more pleasant for teachers and students.

4. The same musical materials are used in parallel for playing, solfege, and music theory.

5. The methodological material is organized in such a way that it leads to a harmonious development of the student’s skills. Milanov uses an integrated (complex) approach: the learning goes from whole to detail. The student learns that every detail is a part of a bigger picture. The violin is approached as a whole at first, using the whole fingerboard and whole length of the bow from the very beginning instead of lengthy exercises on open strings, first position, and the use of a small portion of the bow. All possible tasks and movements performed by the left and right hand are covered right from the beginning in an entertaining way, effortless for the student. With the development of the student’s skills, the attention to detail gets greater and the student starts mastering the technical details, allowing them to approach the violin with ease and comfort. By the end of the second year of study, the student has covered all the fundamental techniques of the left and right hand in a basic way and they are quite comfortable using them (double stops, chords, spiccato, staccato, martelé, sautillé, vibrato, etc.).

6. Solution-driven approach. Milanov maintains that the student has to find the solution to problems by themselves or the so-called solution-driven approach. This approach is used to guide the student to directly participate in their own development.

7. The law of spiral evolution. Every time a song is repeated, a new, more difficult task is added. That way, the student makes progress every time they repeat the same song and facilitates the teacher’s work.

The Milanov Method has achieved great results over the years. By translating the method into Spanish and English, we hope to continue the spread of this method and its ever-growing success.

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