The Basics - What shouldn't be taught

August 3, 2010 at 07:32 PM ·

We may debate on what is the correct way of playing/holding the violin,but what is ,in your opinion ,an extremely poor technique/hold that is  still being taught.What is a good technique that get doesn't  get enough recognition

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Replies (22)

August 3, 2010 at 08:23 PM ·

I don't quite understand how your title relates to your last sentence, but..

In my humble opinion, I would say left-hand shape. Everywhere I go I see professionals of every nature with pinkies curled, fingers sticking straight up, all types of left hand tension, etc. Form follows function - we need the fingers to be ready to play (relaxed [relatively], and ready to strike).

August 3, 2010 at 10:37 PM ·

Don't lie on the chinrest as a pillow!!!  Yes, pros do it but it's not a "good" technique although it's poetic and looks artistic. 

Also... head straigh! This again is not always done even by pros.

Did Heifetzh and Oistrakh lied very long on their chinrest as a pillow???  No...    I know that times have changed but I believe that this clamping habbit is bad because it adds tension. (especially for beginners and amateurs who have so much to learn!) 

Posture!  Playing violin is not a dance or a ride in the park ; ) it's very difficult and will be even more difficult if one doesn't stand straigh with a minimum of stability and foot well apart.  In addition, I personally find that a violinist who stands straigh, head straigh without bending the knees + no exsessive moving looks better. (more professionnal)   

And, as a student who sees the bad side of them, I'm against stickers on the finger board for everyone...  Stickers should be an extreme case (as in 50 students at the same time) but not the norm. 

Bowing towards one's ears when pushing the bow in the pull/push bow motion. This just doesn't look and sound good yet so many do it.  (I did that too but was told everytime that it was bad by my teacher and auto-corrected myself at home!)

This is just some points that I quickly thought of that are clearly undertaught to many young students.  Not to say that I never did them myself (lol) but at least, I think I'm aware to try to not make them...

Anne-Marie

August 3, 2010 at 11:18 PM ·

Any technique that causes pain is a bad technique.

August 4, 2010 at 11:46 AM ·

You should not be taught to latch on to the negative, eliminate the positive, and mess with mister in between. Remember Jonah and the whale when everything seemed so grey.  It ain't necessarily  so. 

August 4, 2010 at 05:29 PM ·

Well, I don't know how common this stuff is regarding the whole spectrum of violin instruction... but some things I wish I was taught when I began lessons, but wasn't:

1. That playing the violin is about more than just playing the notes. I cycled through three different teachers before anyone ever even broached the idea that just because you are playing "correctly" doesn't necessarily mean you are playing "music." Yeah, it sounds obvious, but I imagine that I am not alone in that some students need to be taught the right way to listen to music alongside of the right way to play it.

2. The right placement of the thumb of the left hand. Again, went through three teachers before anyone even mentioned to me that this is important. Once I fixed this problem, it made intonation/shifting dramatically better/easier. Kind of wish I's learnt correctly from the beginning. Would have saved me a lot of trouble later on :)

Granted, I imagine this stuff is addressed immediately by the upper-tier teachers, but I think that there are a lot of people that, as beginners, either can't or don't want to pay the money for this kind of instruction. Because of this, when I began lessons with my current teacher I had to sort of "re-do" A LOT of stuff that I thought I already knew...

August 4, 2010 at 10:42 PM ·

Anne-Marie, as far as the knees go, most students of body mechanics will tell you that standing with knees locked is a bad, bad thing.  I'm not sure what you meant by keeping them straight- not dipping and bouncing, perhaps- but one should stand with some flex to the knees.

August 4, 2010 at 11:25 PM ·

Hi, no not blocked! Just not over bending as a puppet who doesn't hold itself or the little fiddler on the violinist.com logo (lol).  I once saw a soloist (I won't tell the name) who really bended much his knees and it looked odd (not a clasical posture).  I sometimes see students who do this too. I don't know if it is bad or not, it's just that it looks weird and wonder if teacher pay attention to this generally.  Perhaps it is maybe not harmful.  (It's no worst for the bodythan if they were rock stars ; )

Anne-Marie

August 5, 2010 at 01:25 PM ·

Something I frequently come across, especially with adult students who had learned in their youth, is that they were often told to use the whole bow... pretty much all the time! They end up with no idea of good bow distribution, or how to use the bow to create different timbres, and as for more advanced techniques, let's not even go there! This instruction seems to have been very popular in the 70s and 80s - at least in the UK. Anyone else come across this one?

August 5, 2010 at 04:18 PM ·

@Phil Houghton

Yes - that student was me! And the time frame (1970s) fits. End to end in one majestic sweep per note. Makes playing hemidemisemiquavers difficult though - see that bow hair smoke!

August 5, 2010 at 05:12 PM ·

One of the things I find with amateurs and young students is that they do not use enough bow. I notice that is also the case with some of the less good UK professional orchestras. Look at the best continental and US orchestras and see how much better their bowing use is. When they play f or ff they really go through the bow.

August 5, 2010 at 05:15 PM ·

"And, as a student who sees the bad side of them, I'm against stickers on the finger board for everyone...  Stickers should be an extreme case (as in 50 students at the same time) but not the norm. "

Any teacher who uses markers on the fingerboard should be taken out and shot at dawn.

Notes and pitch should be by ear only, and not by visuals. (And 50 students at once should be banned).

August 5, 2010 at 07:25 PM ·

I guess I could of had a title like -Basics, What is being neglected.

Yes , there is a lot of neglected technique that can and should be taught to beginners.The sooner you teach good technique the easier it to teach this student in the future(way way way easier!!!!).The first month of playing can be the most important.

Heres what I am getting at - If I google the term "violin basics" , I get to this pic, which is considered a good way to hold the violin, and this surprises me.

http://www.violinonline.com/vlnonlineholdfront.jpg

Am I wrong?

 

August 5, 2010 at 09:19 PM ·

No your not! She is quite pretty ...

Dodgy looking left hand though ...

August 5, 2010 at 09:45 PM ·

@Alison: 1. That playing the violin is about more than just playing the notes. I cycled through three different teachers before anyone ever even broached the idea that just because you are playing "correctly" doesn't necessarily mean you are playing "music." Yeah, it sounds obvious, but I imagine that I am not alone in that some students need to be taught the right way to listen to music alongside of the right way to play it.

Amen. 

And teaching an instrument without focusing on musicallity as well as technique is surely a surefire way of quickly weeding out early all of the artistic violinists...

August 5, 2010 at 11:10 PM ·

About the picture:

 

I can't beleive she plays well with this bow hold and left arm???  I'm not a teacher and I find it odd so imagine teachers who see this picture as an example... Maybe it's a stategy to get more male students playing??? (lol) 

Anne-Marie 

August 6, 2010 at 08:13 AM ·

The bending of the wrist back  in first position is awful technique ,that shouldn't be taught as "the Basics".What happens is ,the more the wrist goes back ,the less forward  reach you have.Also the more you swing the violin to the left ,you are most likely to bend  the wrist back..

To see how much distance  you loose, try this.

with a straight wrist place  first finger on E string (F#), stretch out the 4th finger on the fingerboard and place a pencil  mark here.Now bend the wrist back .How much distance did you loose?

 

 

August 6, 2010 at 08:39 AM ·

I think what bothers me is that she looks uncomfortable.  Though i can't put my finger (or wrist, or arm or whatever) on why?  Perhaps worse than that though, she also looks miserable.

C'mon people, playing violin is FUN!

August 6, 2010 at 04:18 PM ·

The thing is John ,when the angle of the violin is wrong ,every thing else is going to be wrong.You will natually adapt the rest of your body to this poor angle.You can't force good technique ,you must figure out what angle is best to hold the violin at (I teach to hold the violin at 40-50* angle from center),then adapt your equipment(shoulderrest and chinrest)to this angle,not the other way around.When your  violin is held  at the wrong angle, you are making the learning curve much larger than it  needs  be.

August 6, 2010 at 04:37 PM ·

From Peter Charles :"Notes and pitch should be by ear only, and not by visuals. (And 50 students at once should be banned)."

Apart from anything else, you get a skew-eye view of the markings when playing (unlike a direct face-on view when looking at the fingerboard).

Jim

August 6, 2010 at 08:48 PM ·

coming from a "fiddle" perspective, i'd say one should NEVER lapse into a pseudo-hill-billy patois as it kinda' riles me up summpin' fierce n' i git to thinkin' lyke mebbie this here buckeroo or buckerina is a-pulling my lay-g. 

August 7, 2010 at 08:28 AM ·

yes - (sigh) - it's all true ... i still count on my fingers to read music - and even that's difficult - so sad.

August 7, 2010 at 01:41 PM ·

 Looking at that photo...

- her right elbow is too low - it should be a little above the level of the right wrist

- it doesn't look like her thumb is under the stick of the bow enough

- her left elbow looks like it's too close to the camera, i.e. she is consciously pushing it out and over-bending the wrist to compensate

- left forearm isn't pronated sufficiently so 3rd and 4th fingers are too far from the keyboard

and yes she doesn't look like she is having fun at all!

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