Non-classical/Suzuki beginner's material?

July 16, 2004 at 05:06 AM · Hello,

I played the French horn for about 10 years, and put myself through college doing that. I honestly got very burned out on it, mostly my own fault. A couple years after I graduated college (I had sold my horn, and still don't regret it), I decided that I'd like to learn the violin because it is 100% different than the French horn. The music that I really enjoy on the violin is folk/bluegrass/fiddle music. However, I found a teacher that wanted to teach me Suzuki (even though I am proficient at reading music), who got me started on really difficult technical etudes almost right away, and basically sent me very mixed messages about whether I was a beginner or not! Also, I just really despised the music that I was playing. So my practicing slowly dwindled down, and at the first chance of an excuse, I stopped taking lessons.

After not having picked up the violin for over a year, I have recently decided to try again. This almost made me fall over, but the A string was not a bit out of tune. I guess that is points for the quality of the violin. :D The teacher did sell me this violin and bow, and I really love them.

Anyway, I would like to start over, but I do think I am more likely to succeed if I find the music interesting. So are there any violin instructional methods that focus more on techniques from folk music? I do want to gain the technical ability, but I am wondering if I can do it while skipping the music that I find uninspiring?

I am 26, and from the other posts here I do see that it isn't too late to start! I don't want to be a master violinist or anything, I just want to have fun with it and entertain myself, my family, and maybe play with some small local group some day.

Thanks in advance!

Replies (5)

July 16, 2004 at 03:23 PM · Kodaly method, if you can find someone who teaches it, is based entirely on using folk songs. At least that is what I know from my limited experience with it. I had two classes that were supposed to train me to teach this method. There is a big following in Provo, Utah, connected with BYU. I found it very interesting, and the folk songs used were GREAT. I loved them.

July 16, 2004 at 03:48 PM · Thank you very much! I will look into it. :D

July 16, 2004 at 04:29 PM · The Eta Cohen beginner books have lots of folk pieces, but I think whichever learning system you decide you wish to follow, you will certainly need a teacher to guide you. Explain to any teacher you go for a trial lesson with that you're into folk and fiddle music; any good teacher should be able to accommodate that pretty early on.

July 16, 2004 at 06:19 PM · I really appreciate this group for being open-minded and not lambasting me for not being particularly interested in learning classical music! As with French horn, I am sure that I will get more interested in it as I go along.

The plan was to practice on my own for a few months and try to pick back up what I learned before. Then if I stick with consistently practicing for a couple months, lessons will be my reward!

Anybody know of anyone giving folk violin lessons in the northwest Indiana area that doesn't charge an arm and a leg? :)

July 17, 2004 at 02:33 AM · Misty, here's a link to the website for the N. Indiana Bluegrass Association: You might want to contact them about qualified/competent teachers. At least check out the site then take your violin to some of the scheduled bluegrass festivals, they're great fun and usually the people are very encouraging. As for books, The American Fiddle Method Vol 1 by Brian Wickland is one of the easiest and best. It follows a logical progression from simple lines to double-stops and variations, it comes with a play-along CD. As with others here, I strongly recommend you start with a good teacher so you don't develope bad technique. I took a year of classical then asked my teacher for bluegrass which I continued to play, without further instruction, for the next ten years. It took hearing a CD of a live performance to a sold-out crowd to make me realize my intonation had slipped south in the ensuing years. Horrors! Not what I want to be playing for paying audiences, no matter how much they love our band. Long story short, I got back into classical lessons, along with working slowly, through Basics by Simon Fischer! Take lessons! Have fun.

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