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March 23, 2006 at 05:41 AM · Hi violinist.com. I just registered today, and I have a few questions on my progress as a violinist. I have been playing for about 3 years now, with a private teacher, and I am 14 years of age (freshman in high school). I've switched teachers about thrice, and am most recently with a teacher from the Minnesota Orchestra. In the two years, or so, that I have studied with my current teacher, I have learned most of the basics: Seitz Concertos, Vivaldi in a minor, Accolay in a minor (1), Polish Dance, La Folia, Bach Double, and some other songs here and there in the Suzuki books. I'm currently about to start the Bach 1 in a minor, and I'm wondering how I'm doing for the time I have played and the pieces I have progressed through. Am I taking a step back by playing Accolay almost a year ago, and then Bach in a now? Make no mistake, my teacher is very picky about my sound quality, bowing, intonation, so I have spent maybe more time than I should have on a couple of songs. My peers are all playing Mozart, Viotti, Kreisler, and I feel "left behind", even though I believe my foundational skills are much more superior. I really, really LOVE the Mendelsson (bad spelling!), I listen to it atleast four times a day, and I'm wondering also how long until I could play this song? Last thing, what concerto should I play after Bach in a minor, and can anyone reccomend a good shoulder rest to replace my aging Kun? I was looking at The Maestro offered by Shar, or the Mach One.

Replies (19)

March 23, 2006 at 07:09 AM · It's pretty impossible to tell where you're at by descriptions, but I do have one word of advice:

Try not to listen to the Mendelssohn so much because once you're ready to play it, you'll be sick of it and it won't be as much fun as you would expect. Same with any other piece of music.

March 23, 2006 at 09:57 AM · Hi!!

Relax!You sound stressed..You are only 14 years old and you have all your violinistic life infront of you..Try to enjoy your playing and stop worrying,I had the same problem and now that I relaxed everything is much better.

(try Rode No7 that's what I played after Bach)

Cheers!

March 23, 2006 at 01:18 PM · Hi,

You do sound stressed. Rather than worrying about repertoire, you should be concentrating on more important matters that will help you progress faster, like good posture and setup, correct and effecient movements, good practice habits, and lots of technique. Those are the things that matter and will make a difference in your playing in the long run. What's the point of playing X piece not so well?

Good luck, and I would suggest that you stay focused on small goals. Remember the most important goal is to improve, not what piece you play.

Cheers!

P.S. - you should replaced an aged shoulder rest. That is an individual matter. You should go to a shop/luthier and try different ones to see what works for you.

March 23, 2006 at 06:23 PM · Hello Bobby,

I played Bach a minor at 14 and I just finished the first movement of the Mendelssohn at age 16. I played Mozart Concerto no. 5 (1st movt), and some smaller pieces, in between. So you could probably play it in 2 years. But if you wanted to play it really well... :)

In the end it all depends on what your teacher says.

March 23, 2006 at 09:33 PM · after accolay i played De Beriot and vivaldi 4seasons. Right now i'm playing vieuxtemps No. 4. So yea, u should be ready for mendelssohn after de beriot and a mozart, which is about one to two years.

March 24, 2006 at 02:05 AM ·

Bobby-

I'd say you are quite advanced for the number of years you've studied. I had played for about 7 years before I got to the Bach A minor (which incidentally, is harder than it seems). I myself am currently working on Mendelssohn, and I think that if you continue to work thoroughly at the pace you're at now, you should be able to do Mendelssohn in a few years too. A good foundation will help you a lot more in the long run than rushing to get to more challenging repertoire. Good luck! And don't forget to have fun!

March 24, 2006 at 04:33 AM · If it makes you feel better, I have been playing for just about as long and I am at about the same level. I am currently working on Bach sonata for violin and harpsichord, haydn concerto and when i am done wit these (I almost am, I'm woring on teh last movement of Haydn and third mvt of bach) I think I am going to learn vivaldi spring.

Sheila

March 24, 2006 at 09:53 AM · Bobby, the de Beriot sounds really nice... No.9 is a charm. Vivaldi 4 seasons (spring) might be a reach after Bach amin, but it's very fun and if you're very inspired, you can get it done.

After the Bach, I was wondering maybe you could do some short pieces? If you need help looking, masterclass.com has graded repertoire to help you in your steps to becoming a better violinist.

As for the mendelsohn (sp!), I would wait until after a mozart concerto and some more bach (maybe unaccompanied?)...the mendelsohn is a very difficult concerto to make it sound "great" so it would be wise to do it a bit later. I have also found that learning a piece at lets say 15 then redoing it a year later, allows you to play with much more ease and with a new interpretation/view on how it should be carried out...maybe learn the concerto and work on it for a bit, and come back to it after a few years??? Trust me, by then, you'll have a better technique and a new range of musicality that will make it sound much better.

March 24, 2006 at 06:29 PM · Btw, just because you played the Bach double, then some Accolay, don't let that fool you into thinking that "Bach" as a whole is for less advanced players. (To cure that, listen to a recording of the Chaccone from the D minor Partita...perhaps Heifitz's - ha!)

Bach was a great violinist, and he wrote stuff all along the spectrum of difficulty. The solo sonatas will take the rest of most of our natural lives to master musically. The A minor concerto is indeed harder to play well than it looks. (Like the solo sonatas, it presents sneakily accurate and complex intonation problems in passages that look simple.)

I won't admit at what age I played the Bach Amin first (much later than others here!), but Mozart A major was my next major piece after it, and I considered that a fairly aggressive jump (let alone Mendelsohn E). After that, if you can play the whole Mozart A (including cadenzas) or something similar solidy, and have been making the associated progress through scales and etudes, you _might_ start fiddling in private around with the Mendelsohn (sic) E major, but that would be another large jump of similar if not larger magnitude, and it might be some time before you are ready to really _study_ the Mendelsohn E. I think people often go through at least Bruch no 1 first.

Of course, do discuss this with your teacher as she/he hears your playing and we don't. (And I, at least, am no expert anyhow.) Sometimes (ok, almost always) steady progress beats jumping ahead in your formal study...but then, most students I know have also gotten pieces on our own that were largely beyond us and practiced them at home well before our teachers started us on them. (I'm still working in private on stuff I started woodshedding over a decade ago...but then, I don't practice enough.)

My two cents. Btw, it sounds like you're making excellent progress overall, and ambition is to be encouraged! Just don't sell Bach (or Mozart) short. :-)

March 26, 2006 at 08:38 PM · You've only been playing three years? You're going pretty quickly, in my opinion. Three years into my violin studying, I had just learned Twinkle (and all ten-thousand-bazillion variations, mind...) But you can't measure progress in repertoire.

It boils down to this: Do you feel good about your own sound?

March 31, 2006 at 08:35 PM · Sorry for no responses, I haven't checked in awhile. But thanks for all the input, and yes, I am confident in my sound. I sometimes try to "imitate" the recordings I have of each song :) to get it "perfect". I'm doing the Bach right now, I started it about a week and a half ago. I'm doing the first movement for an audition for summer camp that I have on April 23, so yeah. Also, I was looking at the De Beriot No. 9 in aminor, it's amazing (I have the first movement from the 4th volume of the Barbara Barber series), so I think I will play that for my OTHER audition during the summer for the orchestra I currently play in. Thanks for the input, and I guess I sort of understand Bach now: I think it's "easy" technicially for me, but harder to play well with expression and stuff.

April 1, 2006 at 12:52 AM · Bobby, you say that you think you've spent more time than you should on a few pieces and you feel left behind of your peers who are playing somewhat more advanced repertoire. Don't worry about it! It's much better to spend a long time on a piece and get it perfect than to blaze through the repertoire and play everything sloppy. :)

Oh, and after Bach a minor I would recommend Mozart #3. It's a step up, but not a huge one. Mozart will be excellent for your technique (it requires great precision) and musicality. It's also just a lovely piece in general. :)

April 2, 2006 at 12:58 AM · I think you are proceeding at a very excellent rate. Even if you feel you aren't getting to play the "harder" pieces like your colleagues, just remember that you are getting a sound foundational education in technique and that in a few years, that will really help set you apart from some of them

As for shoulder rests- I switched from Kun to Wolf my junior year of high school and have never looked back. It has good padding, it's nice and wide, and it's highly adjustable. :)

April 2, 2006 at 07:12 PM · Yeah no kidding! you are doing great. 3 years and you're already done accolay...i mean...look at me. im 16...played for 5 and a bit years..and im just working on the accolay now. the bach a is fine for now! if i were you id like to learn csardas.

April 3, 2006 at 12:26 AM · Ooh yeah, Csardas is fun. I played that when i was about 13 and I really schmaltzed it up--went way overboard on my imitation of Vengerov. :)

April 3, 2006 at 02:50 AM · Hi!

About the shoulder rest thing... I think the best is Bon Musica. It keeps your violin from sagging on your shoulder, so you get the best position. It's becoming really popular among professionals!

I think you are going a little bit slow if you want to play violin for a career. But if it's only for a minor of hobby or something, you're going pretty fast!

April 3, 2006 at 03:25 AM · Actually, I would from my own personal opinion recommend against the Bon Musica--I used one for a few years and eventually decided it was too big and obtrusive and I felt stiff and constrained in my movement. (Now I'm at the other extreme: a little sponge and rubber band.) Just my two cents.

April 3, 2006 at 08:36 PM · I would also take a look at the Haydn C Major Violin Concerto. I'm finished it up last week and looking back, it really matured my violin study.

April 5, 2006 at 10:35 AM · Hi Bobby,

you shouldn't worry that much. I think you are progressing well now. The evolution in your playing actually very looks like my first years of violin playing.

It feel a bit uncomfortable to say this, but you better don't think about the Mendelssohn too much yet. It is really one of the masterpieces and requests a lot of "musical maturity", personally I think this is a piece that you shouldn't play too early. But there's so much more music to discover!

I also think it isn't possible to go backwards. Playing easier pieces is a good thing to control all your basic techniques of playing the violin.

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