Am I using the right violin method?

July 11, 2018, 3:03 PM · I've been playing the violin for about 7 months, with some interruptions (4 uninterrupted).
Fist 3 months I had been using 3 methods: Laureoux I, Wolfhart, Hohmann. Then I got new teacher and he continued with Laureoux only. Now it's over and we have been using Hans Sitt v. 1.

However, I find some études pretty difficult for my level, specially ones with flat notes. Do you guys think it is appropriate to my level?
I don't have many references on violin, so I don't know any common sequence of methods used to learn how to play the violin. I'd like to know some, if they are commonly used.

Thank you in advance.

Replies (10)

July 11, 2018, 3:23 PM · There's no such thing as the "right method." There are many paths to violin proficiency, and there are successful musicians who have come from every background imaginable.

The study of the violin with a teacher involves them figuring out what one can do, what one cannot do, and drawing on the proper pedagogical materials to develop the skills one does not already possess.

July 11, 2018, 5:11 PM · My first teacher used the first two books of Laoureux, along with Hrimaly scales, Sevcik (I forget which particular book), Wohlfahrt, Yost and Sitt, with repertoire pulled from all over. In retrospect I think she was not a great teacher (in terms of giving advice and correcting flaws in my setup), though I think the materials I studied were pretty good. I turn out to be one of those people who really like technical studies.

At seven months, almost everything is going to be difficult! Just persevere.

July 11, 2018, 7:28 PM · A good teacher will stretch you. If left to our own devices, many of us would just keep playing things we can play easily and well, thereby never making forward progress. So I would say that if you think some of the stuff is "too hard," that's just about right. Start slowly and increase speed gradually, as you improve. Soon you will be on to new "too hard" stuff!
July 12, 2018, 4:18 PM · While there are a lot of "Methods" and each one has it's supporters as well as detractors, the critical part of the learning is the chemistry between student and teacher.

It is a given that learning to play the violin is difficult. The question you have to ask yourself is: Do I feel that I'm learning the skills I need from these lessons?

I also have to ask: Have you raised the question you raised here with your teacher? If not, why not? If you feel that you can't ask the teacher this question, that is a big part of your problem that goes way beyond the method.

I'll admit that I was lucky to have great chemistry with my first, and only, teacher. Not everyone is that lucky.

July 12, 2018, 10:49 PM · Thank you for all the help.

Gene, I get your point, however your answer does not seem to fit my question. I just would like to know how ok is that method, if there's a commonly known path. As for your second paragraph, the advice suits the teacher, mainly.

Scott, it seems we have been walking through similar paths, good to know. I'm also stating to use Hrimaly for scales.
"At seven months, almost everything is going to be difficult! Just persevere." — maybe that's all I needed to hear!!! thanks!

Elizabeth, I haven't thought of it that way... indeed I feel "called" by the stuff I already know how to play. I suppose you're absolutely right, it's getting much better than I thought I could achieve.

George, your point is very pertinent. I'm not sure how to check if we've got chemistry, but he's basically the only option I have right now as a teacher, in my current situation. We get along very well and he's very kind, but as I've said before I don't have references to compare (besides my first teacher, which was an awful person). And since I pretty new on the subject, I'm not securely aware of which skills are expected to be learned from the lessons.
I've raised the question with him, but he didn't give much attention as he seems to think that all lessons are very easy lol that's why I want a third option.
A friend told me my teacher is using materials with inappropriate level (higher) with another person, and it's preventing the person from developing properly, as it spends too much time and leaves behind basic important stuff.
For these reasons, I am concerned enough to ask for help here. I've already talked to my teacher about this fear (without mentioning his other student) and he told me not worry.

July 13, 2018, 4:50 AM · I'm sure that the adherence to a specific series of books or sequence of materials certainly looks good on paper. I am of the belief that regardless of what sort of dogma gets pushed by individual or corporate interests, there is no static method that guarantees results for every student. My point about the teacher is that any instructor must be able to perceive after a reasonable amount of time with a student the manner in which they must approach their instruction, and what skills the student needs to acquire, and that informs the choice of repertoire.

I've been coaching a 7-year old taught by my wife in solo performances with orchestra (I am a conductor), and we just finished a concert where she played an absolutely thrilling Mendelssohn Violin Concerto with my Summer Music Festival Orchestra. She started at age four...and she's never played any Laureoux, Wolfhart, Hohmann, or Sitt. At all. Her path took her from Suzuki books 1-6, Schradiek, Yost, William Fitzpatrick's "Melodies for the Young Violinist", Kayser, and now Kreutzer and the Trott Melodious Double Stops. 3+ hours of practice a day for three (coming up on four) years.

It's not about the books! It's about your teacher's ability to recognize what you need to grow as a violinist and an artist. Can you play a one octave scale in tune? Do you produce what you consider a beautiful tone? Do you feel that you are able to shape and express a musical line? What goals do you have for playing the violin, how much time are you planning to commit to it, and what are your long-term goals?

July 13, 2018, 2:00 PM · I agree with Gene that it's not about the books, but if you're jumping around among all kinds of different method books without any kind of indication from your teacher that there's an overall plan, then that's not good either.

Of course, as a chemist I agree with George about the chemistry. :)

July 13, 2018, 3:08 PM · Yes Paul, I totally agree. A random hodgepodge of material with no indication as to its goals isn't good at all.

Our time spent practicing is extremely valuable, and we shouldn't be wasting it without having clear goals and effective strategies for using it to the best effect.

July 13, 2018, 3:27 PM · Yes, my first teacher presented me with a to-do list of method-plus-etudes but it lacked focus. I didn't really begin to assemble any proper foundation--any sort of conception of what playing violin meant--until a subsequent teacher sat me down with some Suzuki material (less difficult stuff than I'd been trying and failing to play) and had me focus the technique onto repertoire. Suddenly all of those Sevcik bowing variations had meaning.
Edited: July 13, 2018, 5:22 PM · I think a distinction could be made between étude books and method books, although one could be embedded in the other.Auer for instance dedicates a whole first book on bowing open strings to teach bowing and rhythm, second book on first position, etc. De Bériot structures his method in terms of positions. I came across books by Maurice Onderet, he structures his on a system of intervals. Suzuki in the faithful pedagogical form clearly is a method. I would suggest that method books, usually in series, lay out a certain plan of study according to a certain philosophical perspective. Within these books, the author will include etudes.

However, étude books like Wolfhart Kayser and Kreutzer (and I think Sitt
dont seem to me, unlike the likes of books cited above, method books.

So, yes ultimately the teacher provides her or his method and tailors it according to the student, but this doesn't mean there aren't others following a method book with supplementary material.

Also, one of the perks of following a method book is that students, certainly adult students, have further security in their progress because it's more easily visualized. On the other hand, following it too faithfully might not be the most efficient since teaching technique is dependent of the students individual weaknesses and strengths.

By contrast, it seems to me also that Sevcik , as an exhaustive source of exercises, bowing, fingering, scale, etc offered itself up to some teachers as its own method for some (although for others its a 15 mins per day set of exercises).

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