Need to compare my violin program

Edited: September 23, 2018, 6:20 AM · Hi everybody!

I’m adult italian violin amateur student and it is almost four years I’m studying this wonderful instrument. I’m taking private lessons once per week from a qualified teacher and I practice 3 hours per day 6 days per week.

Thus I’m writing here since I would like to compare my practicing schedule and actual violin program with yours.

Below you find the list of the things and books I’m studying right now (for those that know those books I put the exercise I’m studying now in brackets):

- Three octaves A major scale and arpeggio
- Double stop A major scale and arpeggio (thirds, sixthies and octaves)
- Sevcik: op. 2 book I (Ex. n.5)
- Sevcik: op. 7 book I (Ex. n.20)
- Sevcik: op. 7 book II (Ex. n.13)
- Sevcik: op. 8 (Ex n.6)
- Sitt: op. 32 book II (Ex. n.37)
- Sitt: op. 32, book III (Ex. n.48)
- Sitt: op. 32 book V (Ex. n. 89)
- Kayser: op. 20 (Ex. n.10)

Please note that for each of the above book, I already studied ALL the previous exercises. In addition for the Sevcik’s I studied every exercise with the variations proposed.

To finish I below list what I have already done.

- Scales and arpeggios in two and three octaves in all the keys
- Double stop G major scale and arpeggio (thirds, sixthies and octaves)
- Curci: Book I and II
- Curci: 50 Studies
- Curci: 24 Studies
- Sitt: op. 32 book I
- Curci: 20 Studi Speciali
- F. David: op. 44 24 violin sudies

And now my (probably silly) questions:

Do you think this syllabus is coherent with a fourth year
violin course?

Don’t you think nine books all at once could be a little too much?

Every opinion will be very well accepted. Thank you in advance for your attention.

Replies (20)

September 23, 2018, 3:05 PM · Just out of curiosity, are you playing any solo repertoire at all?
September 23, 2018, 7:06 PM · I'd lose my bloody mind with all that Ševcik...
Edited: September 24, 2018, 7:55 AM · First of all thank you for your attention and time.

@Mary: No, I don't have any solo repertoire at all. I would like very much to have some but unfortunately I don't have more time in my daily life for that, even I can try by myself. Rarely, I play some tune from suzuki books but it isn't really a repertoire, I guess. On the other hand, I have a job and a family, and it is already not easy for me to find the hours which I actually reserve for the daily practicing. Do you think I should cut some of the practicing session program (for example some technical part) to put some effort into a epertoire piece?

@Cootn: Fortunately, I haven't loosen my mind with all those books yet:-)
I try to make music even with Sevcik to survive, althought I'm not completely successful!

From your replies I feel that something is not going in the right way with my learning path. Althought (I guess) I spent a lot of practicing time on the instrument, I think that my progress is not relevant with the time I begin to play. In addition, about my practicing session, I try to avoid the mechanical repetition-over-repetition (something that sevcik's method could suggest) but rather I try to think on that I'm doing in each moment and trying to find the right solution although I do not always succeed.

At this point, I start doubting if I have choosen something (the violin) which is not for me and if it is the case to put it back into my wardrobe.

September 24, 2018, 5:44 AM · Does your teacher know your practise schedule? If not, I'd suggest asking for some advice from them
Edited: September 24, 2018, 7:33 AM · Repertoire is the proving ground for your technique, and there are aspects of violin playing that are actually better explored through repertoire. So your regimen is lacking. A common schedule is to do only about one third on scales and studies, one third on a lyrical piece (or Bach solo movement when you get to that point) and one third on faster piece like a concerto movement (or Suzuki piece). Sometimes the breakdown is one quarter scales, one quarter studies, and the the rep. But I would argue for more rep for you since you're behind on that and because Suzuki rep is technique focused anyway.
Edited: September 24, 2018, 10:19 AM · Thank all of you for your advices.

@Jake: My teacher knows all about my practice schedule, and program (of course). I consider myself a "diligent" student, the problem is I have no more daily time to studying some solo repertoire piece, as I have already written in my previous post. I already discussed with him about the contents of the actual program and all my doubts if it is the case to study every single line/piece in the above listed books. Actually, the listed book are used in most of italian conservatories and violin schools, but not even one student goes through them in a so
meticulous way. With respect the Conservatory syllabus, it seems I'm one year late at least.

@Paul: My practicing schedule is the following:
1st Week(six days): 45 minutes for scales, 80 minutes technique (Sevcik's), 60 minutes studies (15 minutes each for the pieces from the four studies books);

2nd week: 45 minutes scales, 30 minutes for each of the piece from the four studies books (Sitt+Kayser).

Finally, one hour and half lesson(two hours in some case) every Sunday morning

Paul, if I understand your suggestion correctly, I should use one quarter of time of my daily practicing session for scales, one quarter for studies (do you mean studies from Kayser, Mazas, etc.?) and then the rest for repertoire. It sounds nice! Can you suggest some piece for the repertoire, please?

Edited: September 24, 2018, 1:08 PM · It's hard to make repertoire suggestions without hearing you play. Your teacher is really the best equipped to select a solo piece for you. Here is a list of pieces I often teach, in rough order of difficulty. You could start by taking a look at the Bach a minor, and move up or down in difficulty as required if it isn't at a suitable level.

Vivaldi a minor (Suzuki book 4)
Vivaldi g minor (Suzuki book 5 or 6, I forget)
Fiocco Allegro (Suzuki book 6)
Bach a minor (Suzuki book 7)
Monti Czardas
DeBeriot #9

Good luck!

September 24, 2018, 2:26 PM · Mary, many thanks for your suggestion. I have all Suzuki books so I can try to pick the right first piece of my repertoire. However, at a first listening and reading the two Vivaldi's pieces seem to fit with my level of playing. I'm going to propose them to my teacher, so he can give the best advice.
September 24, 2018, 2:41 PM · Normally, your teacher will be guiding you through scales, etudes, technical exercises and repertoire. I don't know if I'm missing something, but I don't understand why you are making these decisions when a thoughtful teacher will be able to make good choices based on how you play and what you need.
September 24, 2018, 6:04 PM · Seems to me the teacher did not make these decisions and has been keeping him on an all work and no fun diet for all this time. The practice time is certainly enough to include repertoire. That way one can experience what one did all the studies for. Even the studies listed are not the best (musically). I would have quit if I had had to practice Sevcik for such an amount of time.
September 25, 2018, 12:39 AM · To make clear my position, I trust my teacher completely. It’s just it seems quite unusual to me that I go through the method books so meticulously and after four years of practicing I don’t have a piece repertoire. In some sense, it’s exactly what Albrecht says: I start to feel the missing of the funny part of my diet.

September 25, 2018, 7:58 AM · Alex just ask your teacher for a nice piece that he thinks is slightly *below* your current technical level, and explain that you would like to make some music. They will understand and since you are expressly asking for something below your level, they will not feel like you are pushing them.
September 25, 2018, 8:55 AM · Many thanks Jean!! Your advice to stay *below* my current level is very good. It is also absolutely well motivated.
September 25, 2018, 9:32 AM · That technical list looks very heavy; equivalent to weight-training for an athlete. There is a real danger of over-training, getting tight muscles and loosing track of why you are doing this. Technical work can be confined to one hour: stretches, exercises, scales and arpeggios, one new etude per week. Cut down on the scale and arpeggio routine by picking one key per day, then up a half-step the next day, or around the circle of fifths. After that hour move on to Bach. If you are not ready for the S.&P. collection try the concertos or keyboard sonatas. Pablo Casals played Bach every day. Solo pieces should be one level below your current technique, something that you want to play, enjoy hearing.
September 25, 2018, 9:46 AM · Not only is playing rep the reward and the reason for the technical work; it is also an indispensable part of the learning process. I've never heard of this situation persisting for four years, and I suggest it's worth a serious conversation with your teacher.
September 25, 2018, 11:58 AM · I agree with Sean. The way you have laid out your relationship to your teacher and his/her "method" is strange to me.
September 25, 2018, 12:35 PM · Many thanks to all for your advices. What is becaming clear to me is that a conversation with my teacher is absoltely necessary. For one reason or another.
September 25, 2018, 12:53 PM · I have a two day practice schedule with a little technique on both days as well as time for new solo and chamber rep, and even some time for playing through a piece or two of my regular repertoire. I would think you don't need to work so much daily on all that technique, I honestly used to be that way and it was sucking the fun out of practicing.
September 25, 2018, 11:57 PM · Alex, I am impressed by your dedication and meticulous work, but like anyone else I wonder how you manage to keep sane. Your story reminds me of a blog post by Simon Fischer here on ("A Year of Technique Only -- Why it's madness" - Music is not the adding up of mechanics and you cannot develop your musicality without playing music from the very beginning.
Edited: September 26, 2018, 6:04 AM · Katarina, thank you for the link. Sometime I also ask to myself how I can keep me sane. Perhaps because I'm already insane! :-))

I found Fischer's post very interesting. Can you imagine what Fisher could write if he knows I'm on Sevcik (but not only) from three years? And still no repertoire?

I'm indeed opened this post here since I really want to be a "product of my teacher" rather then a "survivor" (as Fisher says) because I feel my teacher can give so many good things, musically speaking.

I'm going to have a discussion with him (my teacher, not Fisher), definitively!

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