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The Weekend Vote weekend vote: Did you start arco or pizzicato?

October 13, 2007 at 1:04 AM

I wasn't even aware that some teachers taught this way, pizzicato before arco, until I discovered that the other teacher at the public school where I'm teaching has this approach.

This week, a Shenandoah University grad student, Erin Freund, put up a survey for string teachers on the topic. After I took the survey, I got to thinking, how many violinists started this way?

So I'm asking you! And while you're at it, if you are a teacher, help a grad student and take Erin's survey!

From Emily Grossman
Posted on October 13, 2007 at 1:07 AM
I learned with the bow first, and I teach pizzicato. The bow is introduced on open strings separately, and then the hands are integrated.
From Blake Newman
Posted on October 13, 2007 at 1:29 AM
I started with pizzicato. For like my first lesson ever. Of course that was like 9 years ago im not a violinist im a violist. I thought it was easier.
From P.H Brackenbury
Posted on October 13, 2007 at 4:31 AM
Erin's link (to her survey) brought me to the "thank you for taking this survey" page =(
From Laurie Niles
Posted on October 13, 2007 at 5:21 AM
Somehow I was able to take it before, but now I get that too. Looking into it!
From Laurie Niles
Posted on October 13, 2007 at 6:09 AM
The link to the survey should work now, let me know if it doesn't!
From Erin Freund
Posted on October 13, 2007 at 11:57 AM
Here is the link again:
Click Here to take survey

It may not have worked since the program recognized that Laurie's computer did not create the survey. Hopefully this link will work. Thanks everyone for your participation. As a first year public school teacher, it is so nice to know there are so many people out there willing to share ideas and advice!

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on October 13, 2007 at 12:07 PM
I didn't know about the pizz first method either until I started using "Adventures in Violinland" with my daughter last year. She liked that, but now her public school is starting with the bow pretty much right away.
From NeaL Brooks
Posted on October 13, 2007 at 1:58 PM
I started learning nursery rhymns playing pizzacato. That was only for the first few lessons.

I have since gone on to play lots of other stringed instruments, many of which are not intended to be bowed.

Today still, when I am trying to learn a completely unfamiliar tune on violin with nothing to go by other than sheet music, I find it easier to learn the melody playing pizz until I can get the melody in my head. Then I switch to using the bow.

From Kay Pech
Posted on October 13, 2007 at 2:07 PM
I love Suzuki's approach, using both bow and pizz. at the start. The "ringing" tone of the plucked string helps the child feel whether the finger is "plopped" down enough on the string to create good tone. The bowed string (only) approach is difficult to hear whether the left hand is working well enough.
From Deborah McCann
Posted on October 13, 2007 at 3:31 PM
I started pizzacato. In my early years of public school teaching, I tried both. For my teaching style, I found that I prefer to start pizz. as it gets the students to time to learn to hold the violin on their shoulder and with the jaw better so they can apply enough pressure with the bow so the tone is pleasing and not whispy. Gives them also a good hold of the instrument so they have a freedom in the left hand to get better immediate position and intonation. I start pizz on open strings, go to bow open strings, pizz left hand fingers while continuing bow open strings, then bow fingers. I often have parents comment that they are amazed that their student does not squeek much.
From Arthur Haule
Posted on October 13, 2007 at 3:53 PM
I started learning playing in the public schools on Long Island 40 years ago. We started (as I recall) playing with the bow. It seems to me that we played that way through the first semester, then took up pizzicato in our second semester...playing a pizzicato piece for our Spring concert. (Isn't that a scary thought? 40 beginning string violinists and 2 cellists playing pizzicato at the same time. I wonder if any two of us actually plucked a string within a quarter second of one another.) I seem to recall it turning out well. But our teacher, Ellen Buxton, nee Shenton, was a remarkable lady.

My daughter started learning playing with the bow as well.

But as I write over and over again, ulitimately "It doesn't matter how you learned, all that counts is that you play."

From Anne Horvath
Posted on October 13, 2007 at 9:01 PM
I actually started with the bow, because after my parents brought home the rental violin, I pulled it out and started, um, "playing" all of my piano tunes! My poor, poor teacher!

I start all of my beginner students on open string pizz. AND they count out loud!

From Brian Allen
Posted on October 13, 2007 at 10:54 PM
I started Suzuki method using the bow and playing Twinkle. The IU String Academy I now attend uses the Pizz. first and I like that very much. It gets the kids thinking about rhythm without having to deal with holding the bow. Very effective!
From Bethany Morris
Posted on October 15, 2007 at 12:58 AM
I started pizz, but I think teaching both simultaneously (using pizz when focus is on posture and LH, and arco to familiarize student with bow) makes sense.

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