Kreutzers

January 10, 2005 at 07:48 PM · Hi everyone - Happy New Year!

This is my second term with a new teacher and his style is totally different from my old teacher, who was also a good friend. I admire his skill as a performer and leader of a well-reknowned orchestra but so far this year he has done very little technical work with me. He prefers to work on technique via the pieces I'm learning and is against doing technical exercises just for the sake of technique, and is especially against doing Kreutzers, as he thinks they're really boring. I am very doubtful about this approach although I know he is an accomplished player, because I really struggle with bow control and maintaining a good sound and think Kreuzters and the like would help - should I just work on them myself (at the risk of doing them incorrectly) or should I approach him again about working on studies???

a very unsure kathleen xox

Replies (46)

January 10, 2005 at 07:50 PM · Dear Kathleen, I will be interested to read Buri's response to your dilemma since he is such a proponent of the Kreutzer etudes. For myself, I am glad I have worked on the Kreutzers. They are always there for me to go back to for refreshment if I feel a need to work on something technical. They can be a comforting way to approach technique without having to add in a bunch of other issues. For me, despite the accusation of boredom (which I didn't experience), the etudes provided a platform in which I could practice a specific technique with lots of repetition and not have to concentrate on a whole bunch of other technical issues at the same time. While it is true that the best violinists are going to have to do it all, we have to take it one step at a time and the etudes give us that practice opportunity. I do believe that a good teacher can shepherd you through the technical needs you have to develop by using music but they must be a very disciplined teacher who can effectively plan out the student's repertoire well in advance to keep the student on track in their technical practice and forward development. If you trust that your teacher can do that then you have no worries. I'm sure that many students and teachers have progressed this way very effectively. I just don't think it would have worked very well for me. Even though I have worked on all of the etudes, I still go back and review different ones from time to time. Maturity and experience can bring a new dimension to an etude that I may not have played for a couple of years. If this situation really bothers you a lot, you may want to consider asking your teacher to occasionally review your playing on a particular etude just to make sure you are doing it OK and work on them on your own. Finally, if you do decide to work on them on your own, read everything Buri has written about them. Just a thought....Ardene

January 11, 2005 at 01:02 AM · It would be naive to think that merely playing a particular etude would neccesarily advance one's technical equipment, like taking a spiccato pill. Of course playing the etude with specific technical goals, and specific practice strategies for achieving those goals, is of most definite benefit. Very often a passage from a beautiful composition can just as well (or better) be the vehicle for the study of a technique. Therefore, although I personally have my students study etudes, I have no disagreement with your teacher's approach. There's nothing wrong with never having played Kreutzer No. 8 (or pick whatever number you like). The only thing that would be wrong, in my view, would be to lack the technical equipment to play Kreutzer No. 8 beautifully. If you acquired the equipment to play Kreutzer No. 8 beautifully by practicing four lines from a Viotti Concerto, that's none of my business! A student/teacher relationship is much like a patient/doctor relationship...Those patients who trust their doctor, and try their best to understand and folow the doctor's advice usually wind up healthier than those who self-medicate. Addendum: I appreciate and agree with what Janet Griffiths says below regarding one's helping his understanding of the violin's development by studying some Kreutzer. However, the same might be said about whether or not one has studied a Rode Caprice, or Elgar Salut D'Amour, or Paganini DM Concerto etc., etc. So given that one might not be able to study everything that is significant in the development of violin playing, one makes choices, as did Kathleen McCrudden's teacher. (I guess I agree with everybody!)

January 10, 2005 at 09:30 PM · Aside from arguments as to the validity of studying pure technique or gaining it through repetoire, the Kreutzer studies are an important part of violinistic history and anyone who wants to understand the development of violin technique should be familiar with at least some of the studies.

January 11, 2005 at 12:42 AM · I Agree. Kreutzer studies are useful if you want to single out an aspect of your technique, and focus on doing JUST that aspect absolutely perfectly. Wheras when you're playing often difficult repertoire, there are several things happing at once, all of which have to be perfect (bowing,intonation, vibrato, musical phrasing and dynamics) at once, and if you dont know how to practice doing all these things right AT ONCE then you are really going to get nowhere fast. Having said that if you know how to practice then you could probably gain a great technique just from playing pieces, but its a big if.

January 11, 2005 at 12:47 AM · Ps if you think Kreutzer studies are boring, try no. 13, my personal fave! A good violinist would be able to play this at all points of the bow. Heel, tip, middle.

January 11, 2005 at 12:56 AM · Greetings,

there is no absoulte answer to this question. For me it is a question of extremism. That is, there are two particular kinds of teacher at differnets ends of the spectrum that, in my opinion, should be approached with caution. The first considers etudes ot be boring/unnecessary and the second believes that ipso facto, all etudes are good and therefore studying whole books from end to end -becaue they are there- (or any other similarly purposeless reason). If I had to choose one I suppose I woudl prefer the latter. I had long experience of a non-etude teacher and I personally believe this approach is based on a misconception that etudes have no real place. But to me, they a) bridge the gap between scales and music and b) provide the stamina necessray to play major cocnertos . The latter could also be acquired by playing lots of concertos but then the need for repetition tends to dull the musical point. Similarly, a person who advocates doing all Kreutzer , Rode and Dont without having a good reason probably doesn`t understand these etudes in any depth and therefore may well do more harm than good.

A lot of the answer to the question depends perhaps on where the student is at a given moment. If a stduent can play the Paginini caprices and has got there by practicing only sevcik, is there any point in doing Kreutzer?

As Oliver points out, without a clear and relvant purpose, then anything is a waste of time. I differ slighly with him in the sense that I think the Kreutzer etude sare such a subtle and brilliantly integrated compendium of technique that they shoudl all be studied in depth at some point. Rode and Dont to a slightly lesser extent perhaps. Note that Auer insists on a thorough knowledge of these etudes in his little book.

Another side of the coin is simply that in the future the chances are you will have to teach. How good a teacher are you if you don`t have an infinite array of resources that may not always be relevant to your technique?

Cheers,

Buri

January 11, 2005 at 06:24 AM · Oliver, where do I find the spiccato pill? ;) This would make teaching so much easier!

January 11, 2005 at 07:24 AM · Personally I would prefer an upbow staccato pill (hora staccato strength), but I imagine a massive dose of caffeine or watching a horror movie might accomplish much the same thing ;)

January 11, 2005 at 11:54 PM · I am currently selling up-bow staccato pills, £500 each. I have some smooth legato pills left over, these are a mere £10 each. Offer ends 12/2/05

January 11, 2005 at 11:57 PM · Greetings,

on the whole,

placebows work better,

Cheers,

Buri.

Is that a prune joke or what?

January 12, 2005 at 12:24 AM · Upbow staccato pills? Caffeine seems to work for me.

January 12, 2005 at 03:17 AM · If I had a problem I thought a specific Kreutzer or the like would help, and thought he wasn't going to address the problem, I'd ask for advice using that etude. If you need the etude, then maybe by definition you should have a teacher on it? Also, it'll be fun to watch him try to play it for the first time :-)

To my ears, they sound as interesting as Sarasate at least. Good playing makes anything sound good on violin I think. Somebody recorded them. I don't remember who.

January 12, 2005 at 09:46 AM · K., without impugning your un-named teacher, the fact remains; there many highly expert performers who are just not the best teachers.

I like Buris' polar-spectrum analogy...throwing the baby out with the bathwater comes to mind.

As Heifetz put it, "the Kreutzer Etudes are the violinists Bible." Just because they bore a teacher does not mean they are not a panacea for many pupils' perils in mastering our instrument.

I'm not sayinfg to ditch your prof., just be aware that some day you will need to know these in great, enjoyable detail, especially if you plan to share your hard-won wisdom with students yourself one day.

January 12, 2005 at 11:20 AM · I am a strong supporter of the Kreutzer etudes before pieces. I have worked with teachers like yours, and very technical teachers.

My opinion is, in order to have decent chops, you need some decent technique.. and the book to grow technique wise is Kreutzer. Now, not every etude in that book is for every person.. certain etudes you don't need, and some you really do need!! You have to look through it, and see what you need to grow most on...

If you really like your current teacher, but still want to work on Kreutzer, look around for a teacher. Then see that teacher once a month for some technical issues and work on a few etudes at a time.. along with some scales..

Good luck!

January 12, 2005 at 02:00 PM · This question will show my ignorance (having been raised on Kreutzer), but what does Suzuki method do? Are Kreutzer etudes used at all? If not, what is the equivalent in that method?

January 12, 2005 at 11:57 PM · Suzuki is a method aimed at kids I think, and kreutzer is more advanced, and is good for bowing.

Placebows lol, give that man a star

January 13, 2005 at 12:38 AM · How far does Suzuki go, and if it goes to as high a level as the traditional schools would it not also incorporate studies like Kreutzer at some point?

January 13, 2005 at 07:07 AM · Suzuki is the 'Mother Tongue Method' developed by Shin-Ichi Suziki in Japan.Its aim was to approach music initially as an aural concept thus making it posiible for children as young as three to begin learning an instrument.It is also designed to have full parental involment as it is the mother who gives the daily lessons.The child should listen repeatedly to the tapes or cds of their repetoire and during the lessons they start by learning short segments entirely by ear.Suzuki recommends learning note reading when the child has reached book four ,by which stage they are playing concertos by Seitz and Vivaldi.The books work on technique through repetoire and thus do not present studies as such.The two major critisisms of the method are that children often have problems reading music as they become used to playing by ear and that the technical side is not gone into in depth.In Japan many children will have completed all ten books by the end of elementary school and thus will be playing the Mendelssohn Concerto.There are seveal books on the method.Nurture with love by Suzuki himself,The Susuki Violinist by William Star to name but two.Many teachers adapt the method to suit their needs but is it then the _Suzuki method?To my mind one should either embrace the total philosophy or use another method entirely.It should be adde that Suzukis intention was to create amateur musicians.

January 13, 2005 at 07:50 AM · I had some coaching with Sidney Weiss (concertmaster of Chicago, LA Phil, and Philadelphia(?)) who told me that when he was studying he made a notebook of all the hard passages in all the major concertos classified by keys. He made that his etude book.

Lisa

January 13, 2005 at 10:41 PM · Thats a good idea. I bet all the best studies are the ones that you create for yourself.

January 13, 2005 at 11:09 PM · That would be a thick volume.

January 13, 2005 at 11:34 PM · Greetings,

John, on the whole I think that would be confusing `exercises` with studies. They are a vital but somewhat differnet aspect of developing technique,

Cheers

Buri

January 13, 2005 at 11:51 PM · Buri, would you care to expand on the difference between exercises and studies. Whenever I discover a glaring hole in my knowledge I want to patch it forthwith.

January 14, 2005 at 02:03 AM · Greetings,

I suppose you could create some kind of spectrum from left to right:

scales-exercises-etudes-pieces. Differneces might be

-an increased musical element (to the point where an etude may be perofmred in public.

-an increase in length.

The former is importnat becuase

mor elater...

okay where was I?

An exercise essentially elimintae the msuical elemts so one focuses on one distinct aspetc of technique. Thus they are extremely useful but dangerous becuas eof the elmination of musical component which is often the key to technical development, perhaps one reason being becuase the introduction of a muscial aspect distracts over consciousness and the body then gets on with the job without interference.An over practice of exericses will lead to the disassociation of feeling and technique to the point whree it is detrimentla to the player. Even studies like Wohlfart and Kayser have very strong musical and character elements that must be attented to by the eacher as well as the tehcnical pupose. Though this approach the studnet is guided towards a creative approahc to the insturment even when tehnicla atters are cocnerned. Some etudes are simply so musical they are also responsible for the emotial dveelopment of the student and can even be performed in public. There is an ealry Masaz etude in c major for exampe which is a beuatiful slow melody and hsould be treated as a fine piec eof music.

The point about the length is that both stamina and the abilty to memorize are developed. It is a litlte easier to teach some aspects of memozing using etudes because they are more repetitious than -music- so you cna ask the stdnet to note intellectually things like `oh thta is the same passsage a fifth higer, then a fourth higher and so on.` Once this kind of appraoch is inculcated it transfers to the stduents cocnerto work veyr easily.

Although one should paly a cocnerot through a number of times to enbsure the stamina needed for performance is pressent, this does not mean t should necessarily be developed by constant rpeetition of the cocnerot itself. This will tend to deaden spontaneity. Etudes are idela for this kind of develpment.

Cheers,

Buri

January 14, 2005 at 03:07 AM · Hi Guys,

There are lots and lots of other studies out there that are far superior to the studies of Kreutzer. Kreutzer was a man not known for his great skill on the violin. You should decide on where you would like to go with the violin, then choose an appropriate teacher. If you would like to master the violin I would certainly suggest the Sevcik studies. Although very lacking in melody, these studies will have you ready for anything. When the Sevcik studies are finished, then move onto the Virtuoso studies of Hait and Venzl. It really depends on you the student, set goals and study the appropriate materials.

January 14, 2005 at 03:33 AM · Greetings,

I respectfully disagree with your comments about Kreutzer. You would have to be able to explain away the fact that a huge majority of violnists in the Way they Play series (for example) consistently cite the Kreutzer etude as the cornerstone of violin technique; that Heifetz called them the profesisonals manual; that Eurpean music colleges set them as entrance exam works and in the sylabbuses; that Szigeti used them a s vehicles for exploring technique until the end and cite them frequently in his books; that Flesch discuess them at length in his works; that Of todays pedagogues they are perhaps the most frequently cited by Simon Fischer in his articles and one of the fundamental tools ofd Galamians appraoch (as opposed to sevcik). Likewise Zakhar Bron makes his studnets learn the whole book twice at two differne tstages of development.

There are no other study books cited to the extent of Kreutzer and comparisons with sevcik are not particlualry helpful since they tend to develop diffenrent things.Interesitng, a big fan of sevik, John Krakenberger, on his web site argues for sevcik to done early so that `the student is well equipped ot tackle Kreutzer.` As I have noted elsewhere, violnists who grow up on adiet of only sevcik as technical work tend to be limite demotionally/musically-Accardo is a prominet example, and of the older players Kubelik.

Which study books are you thinking of that is superios to Kreutzer (not Dont becuas ehtta is a differnet level) that all the great players and teahcers of the last hundred years seem to have missed?Surely not Hait and Venzl? Who has heard of them?

Cheers,

Buri

January 14, 2005 at 04:16 AM · Hait and Venzl? Cousins of Hans und Gretl?

January 14, 2005 at 04:31 AM · Greetings,

I googled the follwoing:

30 etudes By M. Hait. For violin. Published by Editions Billaudot. (514800640

Perhaps soemone could tell us soemthign about them?

I think Hans Christian Andersen is better left out of this invitation.

Cheers,

Buri

January 14, 2005 at 04:33 AM · Haited 'em. Where can I get the Bondi studies?

January 14, 2005 at 05:11 AM · Greetings,

the sell them at the popcorn stand on the beach,

Cheers,

Buri

January 14, 2005 at 05:43 AM · Not really having done any Kreutzer (grown up mostly with Suzuki, Schradiek, Sevcik, Kaiser, Wohlfahrt), I've tended to advance much faster with left-hand technique than my right.

Pick a hand.

January 14, 2005 at 06:29 AM · Greetings,

but such a distinction only exists if you treat the Kreutzer etudes as bowing studies. They can be used as left hand exercises equally effectively. In general violinsts have a predilection towards one hand but that is not the same thing. The studies you describe also include the sevcik school of bowing which ought to have evened things out a bit,

Cheers,

Buri

January 14, 2005 at 12:20 PM · Hait was a teacher at Stolyarski's school in Odessa. I've heard some say that he to was a student of Sevcik.

Josef Venzl wrote 36 studies op 88.

January 14, 2005 at 12:32 PM · Hi,

For me, the Kreutzer studies are one of the cornerstones of the repertoire for teachers and performers. I think that they are a must. However, there are many teachers like the one who is mentioned above who do skip technique. In my opinion and experience, it will come back to haunt you later, and you will have to do it at some point. It will just be more helpful if you are young. Better do it in secret and have it then not at all.

Cheers!

January 14, 2005 at 01:17 PM · To answer to Jim w.Miller's question:Felice Cusano recorded most of the 42 studies. The tape was available with the book edited by Paolo Borciani (1978) Edizione Ricordi ref ER 2763

January 14, 2005 at 01:56 PM · "Better do it in secret and have it then not at all."

Is there any likelihood that "doing it in secret" can lead to doing it wrongly and that being worse than not doing it? My disappeared Wohlfahrt thread was heading in about the same direction. a) I'm seeing studies that seem to directly address weak points in my technique and would allow me to practise them separately. b) In at least one instance I can see how the first two studies build up to the third study which happens to be part of the RCM syllabus. I'm looking right now at a study involving string crossings of two strings and since I'm having issues in that area I think it would be useful. However, if I just "do it secretly" and end up practising a wrong technique in this study it won't be helpful. My thought is to express my wish to do the study to my teacher and ask him to demonstrate the correct technique for it. If on the other hand I had a teacher who was dead set on studies and especially if I were already quite technically secure I might take the course of action you suggest, Christian.

I suppose my question is whether it's 'safe' to work on studies on one's own.

January 14, 2005 at 10:39 PM · Greetings,

while there is nothing wrong with having a mind of your own re what to practice I think there is animportnat point to keep in mind: one should give 100% comittment to what the teacher asks you to do. If you have the energy to do more then have you really gone as far as required int hat respect?

In the end I think it is better to try and explain to the teacher what is worrying you and see if they can give you a satisfactory explanation of position. If not, then one might begin questinning the value of the teahcer. But also keep in mind thta no teacher knows everything or even has a clue what is going on the student's head most of the time. Much of it is guessweork. I think that is why DElay once said she preferred students who talked a lot in the lessons.

Cheers,

Buri

January 14, 2005 at 10:54 PM · I couldn't agree more Buri. Teachers aren't clairvoyants, but it is a skill that would certainly help.

Just a little OT but still on the subject of studying Kreutzer, has anyone used the Preparing For Kreutzer

volumes 1 and 2 in their teaching? These books seem to specifically aimed at easing a student into Kreutzer by taking selected studies from a number of composers rather than concentrating on a specific one.

I am just interested in other people's opinion of this because I wonder if jumping straight from Mazas Opus 36 1 and 2 (for example) straight to Kreutzer might be a bit too much in one step so to speak?

January 15, 2005 at 01:02 AM · Buri, I meant exercises ;-)

January 15, 2005 at 05:56 AM ·

January 15, 2005 at 05:53 AM · How can anyone possibly call the Kreuzer's "boring" unless he can play every one of them perfectly??? And even if your teacher can can play them all perfectly, and they are boring to him, who cares?? this is all about you !! You will probably find them intresting..

January 15, 2005 at 05:43 AM · Different things work differently for every different person but I personally think in the vast Kreutzer repertoire there is an etude for everyone. Some of them I personally think are about as musically interesting as many pieces. For instance, no. 32, no. 13. Maybe you could have a sample lesson with a different teacher. You need to click with your teacher because like Buri says, you want to give them 200% commitment.

January 15, 2005 at 01:12 PM · Greetings,

do I gett he stars for my spelling?

I am just beginnig the Whistler 'Preparing for Kreutzer' book witha student. It seems a real hotch potch to me although all the studies are good.

I'll maybe write soemthing on it when I have had some prunes, it's veyr late here,

Cheers,

Buri

January 15, 2005 at 02:24 PM · Hi,

Look, I agree that one should give 100% commitment to the teacher. But, if your teacher is good, but teaches no technique, and you feel the need, is there really something wrong with practicing technique on your own? I was told that a lot and paid for it later. I did the work on my own and learnt a lot. It's not that I didn't respect my teacher, but this was something that I felt I needed. Just a thought.

Cheers!

January 15, 2005 at 09:10 PM · Everyone has written something on preparing for Kreuzter! There's nothing to prepare for! Do we have to perfect our left hand pizz and our polyphonics before we dive in?!

January 15, 2005 at 10:36 PM · Greetings,

yes. It's a little nonsensical. Eveyrthing we do is ultimately preparing for somehting else.

Cheers,

Buri

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