Importance of etudes?
I am an adult amateur taking a lesson now beginning 4th year, recently playing some pieces and etude like Kayser, Hrimaly and so forth. In my humble opinion there seems largely two thoughts in violin studying. The first is Continuous drilling of etudes then applying it to a certain piece, and the other is Playing pieces gradually to its difficulty, for example Suzuki, with supplementary etudes considered necessary to the piece.
My teacher prefers the second approach, other the First. In fact, I am much to the First side, as is in my studying piano in the past. I eagerly want to hear what would be your opinions on ways of studying. Am I wrong who put excessive importance on etudes such as Kayser, Kreutzer, Dont, etc? All these are just contingent with persons?
Thank you for opinions.
If you are playing for your enjoyment, my opinion is that you should play what you enjoy. There are actually many pathways to violin study, not just two, but if you love to play etudes, play etudes. I hate etudes, and for me they are soul-crushing torture, and after decades of playing traditional fiddle music of various sorts, I decided to play the Bach Sonatas & Partitas. If I come upon a difficult section (plenty of those) I make an "etude" out of that difficult part. I mean, Bach managed to play the stuff, and Kayser, Kreutzer, Dont, etc. didn't even exist. Apparently he didn't need them. I am a composer/record producer by profession, and I was curious to see how good I could get playing just the solo Bach (as well as my traditional fiddle repertoire), so I took on this experiment, and I am thoroughly enjoying it! Your goals should determine your path, I think. Good luck!
Learn technique from the technical books; Etudes, Scales and exercises, Sevcik, etc. Start learning the major repertoire when you have the technical tools to play them right. Otherwise, everything you actually play will sound mediocre, and you will lock in primitive playing habits. And you will waste a lot of practice time trying to do something beyond your limits.
I forgot to mention about myself that I learn a violin purely for future joy of playing, with my own hands, a various opus and concerts of Beethoven, Brahms, Bruch,.. and of course Bach's invaluable 1001~1006. Maybe I have a narrow view to see the path of achievement. Thanks for your comment and thank you Joel, Exactly!
If you use pieces, which are often beautifully composed music, as etude material, you largely miss out on the beauty. So in my view it is much better to use etudes to improve your technique as well as your stamina (very important aspect of etude playing), and then work on pieces for which you have the needed technique and stamina. The work on the pieces will then largely consist of learning the notes, the finger patterns, the bowings, which can still take a lot of time, but success is almost guaranteed which can be very motivational.
In 6 years of piano playing I played no more than 3 etudes, afaicr.
I play études when I don't have any interest in learning any pieces. I only play something when I have real passion for the music—or for exams, but let's not get into that...
Yeah, I bought Sevcik Op 1 & 2 shortly after buying my first fiddle, naive fool that I was. You can get them free online anyway as well as the Op 6, which is easier. Recently I bought Dancla Op 84 and Sitt's first 60. Those and the pdf of Kreutzer will last me forever. I only took up the damn fiddle to play western swing anyway, lol!
It's pretty much the norm, as far as I know, to supplement Suzuki with etudes as soon as the student becomes advanced enough to begin Wolfhart, regardless of whether the teacher is using the Suzuki Method or just the books for repertoire purposes. Just because the pieces are intended to have technical building blocks doesn't mean that it's not useful to supplement with etudes and exercises.
I've been treating "étude", "study" and "exercise" as synonyms. Naughty of me. Or does it matter?
Some etudes are great music that would be appropriate for a concert?
I consider etudes/exercises essential to my technical development for several reasons. I find that focusing solely on pieces generally does not bring enough repetition of certain elements of technique to really develop the necessary physical changes that need to take place (control, flexibility, speed, rhythm etc.). Also etudes/exercises allows me to focus on what the left and/or right hands are doing and need to do rather than focusing on the necessities of the score and musicality.
I deem Sevcik technical drills, rather than true etudes. If used as such, they become more bearable. His section on double harmonics is, for instance, much more helpful than Flesch's double harmonic section in his otherwise excellent scale book.
"Etude" is French for "study," etudiant (or "l'etudiant"), French for "student."
In one of Heifetz's televised master classes back in the '60s(?) he told one of the students to go away and work on Kreutzer 4, to deal with a perceived bowed staccato problem which Heifetz felt needed addressing. Note that those master class students weren't in their early 'teens; they were advanced students on the verge of great things, which I'm sure most of them achieved in due course.
I wonder if that is what led me to K-4 all those years ago!
Interesting thread. I think that ultimately, the question is a personal one and the answer different for everyone. There is no question that etudes have some value and help prepare technical issues. I have always found them helpful and, in the past, normally worked on one at almost any time, although now I use parts of my orch music for that purpose. That said, once you have a certain grounding in fundamentals, the Bach S&Ps function as an excellent repertoire for more advanced technical grounding if you have a teacher who can lead you through them from easier to more difficult. It sounds as if OP has two teachers who disagree. This could be a problem.
I think the *actual* question you're asking, OP, is "should I teach myself or should I let my teacher teach me?"
The whole idea is to develop building blocks of your technique in stages.... Hefietz once allegedly stated that one should be able to sight-read a concerto before studying it in detail. I agree that one should not "practice" or "learn" technical element in a concerto or a sonata. It should already be there at one's disposal already if any music is to be made.
Etudes generally have a melodic and harmonic structure. Exercises do not; they are generally fragmentary and have no pretense to being anything than highly isolated technique.
I have only a teacher, and never have been taught under different teachers at the same time. She has taught me from the beginning of E, A, D and G, up to now. She recommended Suzuki at first 3 yrs ago, but I consulted her a certain idea of Sinozaki because I had an impression Susuki seemed a kind of aggregation of pieces not welll considering degrees of its difficulty. Worst than all for me. I heard and felt Sinozaki well organized various kind of etudes borrowed from Wohlfahrt, Hrimaly, Sevcik and Kayser. I feel now it also well distributed pieces among the exercises considering its difficulty and technical relevance. Best than all for me. So I am studying the last of 6 Sinozakis. She recently acknowledged the system of Sinozaki.
It is not an "either or" proposition. I lean towards a balance-both etudes and challenging parts of a piece as exercises, rather than only etudes for technique, or only the musical works themselves (leaning more towards scale/etudes, but never fully so.)
My teacher doesn't do either as such. He sort of guides you on pieces within/slightly beyond your current standard and does technical things as they are discovered
I agree with Erik; and my piano teacher, clearly, was much like Jake's teacher. I like Lydia's definitions.
I agree one cannot obtain perfectness in a place beyond his and her control. I guess it may be a waste of efforts, say, inefficiency and actually no effect. The diminishing returns explains it.
Studies in themselves don't "improve" anything: it's the way we practice them that counts. And Good Practice Methods can be applied to real music too!
Some observations about studies:
Agree with Adrian.
I've had a teacher who taught technique more with music and another (my current teacher)with etudes and scales then cap it off with a musical piece that was pertinent to the technique being worked on. I do not want to generalize, but in my situation I found I was gaining much more from the second method. Yes the teacher is really good and that makes all the difference. But I believe etudes give us an opportunity to practice a particular skill in different situations (on different strings and positions) in an extended piece so that we are closer to mastering it. Just doing it a few times in a music piece might not be enough.
"Just doing it a few times in a music piece might not be enough."
If you use the Suzuki material without being educated as a Suzuki teacher you won't know how to actually work with the material. In that case you will need a lot of supplementary material, and I mean a lot, in order to make ends meet. If you are an educated Suzuki teacher you will probably still use supplementary material but not to the same degree.
Thank you Lars, I couldn't have explained it better myself!