I should have listened! (?)

Edited: June 18, 2018, 9:17 AM · My career as a self taught violinist has been pretty much the disaster I imagined. But it has been fun. In retrospect however I have a nagging question.
Is listening to (legitimate) performances a useful component of learning to play?

Replies (18)

June 18, 2018, 9:21 AM · It’s not a disaster if you’re having fun. Listening to professionals is a great way to develop musicality.
June 18, 2018, 9:53 AM · Yes! it is very useful, if you are unsure of how to play something or to take examples from professionals on how to play, or simply just the character or style of a piece you are playing, but all that matters is how you enjoy music! It would not be good if all you did was listen to recordings and never played!
June 18, 2018, 10:03 AM · I think sometimes avoiding superb players and music when you start off might be a good idea to avoid a feeling of frustration. For some it might be an awesome motivational tool, though.

At the moment I'm watching a video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwC-2GBnMWY) where a professional player is being tutored. I think it helps me a little to know there is always room for improvement, and not being perfect is a way of life rather than something to completely overcome. It's the journey rather than the end game that makes playing interesting.

Edited: June 18, 2018, 11:59 AM · Listening to, watching and studying fine players can be an excellent way to assist one's learning process. Watching some masterclass videos can be even more helpful. For enhancing one's musicality one can even learn a great deal studying masterclasses on instruments other than violin -- even piano. Daniel Barenboim's piano masterclasses are an excellent example, his Beethoven Sonata in particular Watching him coaching Lang Lang is a wonderful experience in musicality: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14dwegqniNg .
Edited: June 18, 2018, 1:16 PM · Barenboim for sure ! Awesome!

My weak link right now is technique.

For one season I bought front and center tickets at a quartet venue and this was my main means of education. I tried to remember every detail.

June 18, 2018, 1:30 PM · If you live near a conservatory, go attend a lot of student recitals - They're free.
June 18, 2018, 3:04 PM · I wish my students would listen more than they read. Even those who sing beautifully, and in tune, are too busy note-finding to hear what they are really doing.

Many recordings inspire me to better practice, but one in particular makes me feel like throwing the fiddle out of the window: Joseph Hassid

Edited: June 18, 2018, 4:22 PM · Adrian,

What other instrument(s) have:

a few kinds of bows? ( i.e. "straight")
a few kinds of rosin?
many choices of strings?
many available chin rests?
choice of shoulder rest?

(no notes!!)

beware the sounding point!

Is the student to be blamed or something/somebody else?

June 18, 2018, 4:29 PM · The most important person whose playing you want to watch and listen to very carefully is your teacher.
June 18, 2018, 4:45 PM · I would add that a teacher has a great advantage. They can SEE the student. That was a major factor for me and I guess also for anyone trying to look in a mirror.
June 19, 2018, 3:19 AM · Paul, have seen the rare videos of Galamian teaching?
Wise words but nothing to watch..
June 19, 2018, 7:04 AM · I can't imagine that many violin skills could be imported just by listening. On the other hand, there seem to be a small army of listeners in the regular sense. !

( I'm grasping at straws to counter my Niece. She just graduated with a Masters in music and certification
on 5 instruments.)

(time for new strings!)

June 19, 2018, 7:45 AM · Adrian,I just recently discovered Joseph Hassid and his great,but sadly,few recordings.One of the best,definitely.
I like to listen to recordings of concertos,etc, for motivation,especially,and also recordings are proof that it is possible to play beautifully,with time and patience
June 19, 2018, 8:06 AM · Indeed. My inspiration has been Yo Yo Ma playing "Songs my Mother Taught Me."
Edited: June 19, 2018, 8:22 AM · Adrian I have seen those videos. But he was not teaching with his violin. Most teachers do, at least a little, until for whatever reason (often sheer age) they cannot demonstrate effectively any more and need to rely on very sage verbal advice alone (such as Galamian). Some teachers even perform, and if you have a chance to watch your teacher in a solo or chamber performance, that's pure gold. For the beginner, I think it's a good idea for the teacher to demonstrate each new piece in its entirety.
June 19, 2018, 11:11 PM · If a teacher is possible for you financially, do it. If not, or there aren't many teachers in your area, then you have to be committed to being your own teacher.

Eventually, when you think about it, we are all destined to be our own teacher someday. Professionals constantly try to perfect their technique based off of experience and knowledge of the instrument and body. To do so from the start is pretty hard, but I don't think it's entirely impossible. It's just a lot more trial and error when you could pay someone to constantly guide you in the right direction.

That being said, you have to grow a very keen sense of how your body feels in relation to the instrument. You also need to learn to correlate that with what sounds are coming out of your instrument. This you have to do regardless, even with a teacher, but learning the violin without this is nearly impossible. You could be down things that could be hurting or feeling uncomfortable and completely ignoring your bodies cries for help.

My tips for you:
-Listen to your body. Feel every inch. Sense the vibrations of the instrument.
-Practice meditation or some other form of "exercise" to develop your ability to sense tension in the body and relax those areas.
-Listen to a lot of pieces.
-Watch a lot of videos of people performing.
-Read up on technique.
-Experiment. No one thing is going to be right for one person. Even if you had a teacher, you'll find sometimes they'll tell you to do something completely different from what members on this community are telling you. That's okay. There's a reason. Be your own teacher and take risks. Always listen to your body, though.
-Play with other people, if possible.
-Keep yourself accountable for your practice time.
-If something isn't working, change it.
-If something is hurting, change it.
-If something sounds ugly, change it.

I hope this helps!

June 20, 2018, 7:09 AM · "Is listening to (legitimate) performances a useful component of learning to play?"

That's like asking "would it help me to learn tennis if I watch other good players," or "would it help me to write if I read good books?"

June 20, 2018, 10:28 AM · Would watching someone who is good at sleeping help me to sleep better?


This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email

Violinist.com is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Yamaha Violin Finder
Yamaha Violin Finder

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

Corilon Violins
Corilon Violins

Los Angeles Philharmonic
Los Angeles Philharmonic

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Metzler Violin Shop
Metzler Violin Shop

Juilliard: Starling-Delay Symposium on Violin Studies
Juilliard: Starling-Delay Symposium on Violin Studies

Gliga Violins
Gliga Violins

ARIA International Summer Academy

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Bobelock Cases



Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Los Angeles Violin Shop

Pluhar Violins

Potter Violins

Pro-Am Strings Ltd

Violin Lab

Violin Pros

Wangbow Violin Bow Workshop