in my early morning stupor I thought I read that someone wanted ideas on teachiing harmonics to children but now I can't find the question so here is a new thread on it.
I belive harmonics should be introduced much earlier to children than they generally are. When? To my mind this should be done before teaching vibrato.
The reason I offer for this is that it seems to me teaching vibrato has focused very strongly on the mechanics of waving the hand or arm and not enough on one specifc aspect of the finger technique: the degree of pressure involved and how it varies. If we accept that one of the main trigger/control mechanisms of vibrato lies in the fingertips (this is the fairly standard position) then we ought to pay attention to what they are doing.
This point was brought home to me recently when I was asked to teach a viola player wrist vibrato since she already had a self taught arm vibrato. This player had been leanringfor about 8 years and she is very bright and musical. There was, as far as I could tell a mismatch between her obvious ability and the level of achivement she had reached. She absorbed the basic vibrato exercises very quickly so the mechanics were all fine but somehow she didn"t seem to be integrating the hand action /vibrato either into her playing or with te arm vibrato which is my long term goal. The problem was easy to find. She has virtually no awarness of finger pressure. the maximum degre eof pressure necessary to keep the finger in one place while executing vibrato. And, it necessarily follows, she is therefore unable to practice therelease of pressure that is also an essential part of the fingertip aspect of vibrato.
In order to develop this awarness of pressure, I had her practicing stopped notes that change slowly into harmonics and back again on long slow bows. After she could do this I began asking her to practice a continuous vbrato on the harmonic/stooped notes.
By this method she has finally come round to a sense of vibrato.
This to me, is the main significance of teaching harmonics to children,
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