Etudes for Suzuki Students
I am currently a Suzuki Book 4 student working on my Bach Double Violin Concerto (2nd Violin). I’ve heard a lot of good things about etudes and how they can improve your technical abilities. I’ve heard a lot of etudes like Kreutzer, Dont, Wolfhart, etc. Which etudes do you think I should start looking at first and which ones are most effective to technical improvement?
This is a question for your teacher. If they don't like to use exercises or etudes, you should find out why. (Suzuki himself wrote two etude books for use with his Method -- the Quint Etudes and the Position Etudes.)
I’m not gonna see him in a few week but what can etudes can I start on now? And I’m gonna assume most are available in IMLSP?
What technical problems are you trying to fix?
I’m getting quite confident and comfortable with third position so I want to start in to 5th position. I don’t have a very clear staccato/spiccato so I wanna work on that as well. Also, sautille perhaps when I try Czardas. Also, I need to improve on overall intonation. I must say I also have a weak 4th finger.
I wouldn't try to self-teach new technique. And Czardas is a ways away, if you're in Suzuki book 4.
I am tangenting this thread: I've been working on Schradieck I for a while. Was daily for quite a spell, and then I lost steam and am now back into daily practice with it. It took 6 months just to get those quarters up to 120bpm - I cannot seem to get past that ceiling.
I did most of the exercise as a kid -- my teacher at the time cut out a few lines (the patterns that he felt were redundant). As an adult, I've been unable to remember which ones to skip, and so I do the whole thing. I play the notes exactly as written, in first position. It's really about accuracy and speed -- building muscle and myelination of the nerves, and having absolute control.
If you have the revised editions of the Suzuki books, there are some etudes at the beginning and end of the books you can get started with. There is one position etude per book, usually some scales, and tonalization.
Did you do every piece in Suzuki 4 that preceeded the Bach double?
So what I’m gonna add to my practice sessions are:
At your level I would recommend Kayser Op 20. That's a very popular book. Remember that it's not just doing them that counts, but HOW you do them. For example at the top of p. 1 of Schradieck there are instructions. Read them.
We use Rachel Barton Pine's editions of the Wolfhart etudes -- it's the usual collection plus a few extras.
Studies, as opposed to exercises, drills, or "basics" (urstüdien?), are musical compositions. The melodic invention may be repetitive, but the harmonic progression, musical periods, and cadences must be coherent, otherwise we are quietly destroying our own and our students' musicianship.
@Adrian, also terrible are Sitt and Alard. But I have long enjoyed practicing Dont. They are rather unmusical but they're okay.
At 70, life is too short for the "rather unmusical"!
Right but I played them when I was a kid so they have some nostalgic value.
"How long should I do each of these every practice session?"
Unfortunate that a student now in book 4 has only heard about etudes.
I started out with Suzuki and have been playing violin for 5 and a half years, now I'm playing Lalo Symphonie Espagnole. And my teacher never really prescribed me any etudes. Maybe it's just something that Suzuki teachers don't really like. I do think it's kind of weird, though, that I've only done etudes for exams (Trott Melodious Double-Stops). But I'm not saying you shouldn't play etudes, because they're great. I could probably be better than I am now at the violin if I did some etudes. I do scales often however. Honestly, I don't know how I'm playing Lalo without having done any previous etudes. I think it's just more "suzuki-style" for students to learn through pieces rather than studies. After all, the books are basically completely filled with specific pieces chosen to improve certain techniques. But then again, Suzuki did write two of his own etudes books. Long story short, I played a lot of pieces, and a few etudes. (Please don't criticize me for not doing many etudes, I know it's a staple in playing an instrument for most people. I'll probably ask my teacher why hasn't given me any etudes tomorrow at my lesson anyway. I should've asked a long time ago.)
Boy. Mozart 3 (Harrison's last piece, it looks like, to judge from the forum history) to Lalo is a huge jump, especially without any technical preparation via etudes.
Yeah, I know, it's a very weird and unconventional jump in difficulty. But I think it's working for me (think). I like to be challenged. But I think if I don't start doing etudes soon, some techniques are going to get really challenging if not impossible for me to move forward. What etudes/pieces would you have supplemented in-between? I mostly played Bach pieces (E major Concerto, 1st Sonata 1st movement). All this stuff is so confusing. Maybe I should find another teacher soon.
Going back to the original post. Some Suzuki teachers use the etudes as note reading material. When I did my training, it was discussed to start on the Wohlfarht at your level doing 2-4 pages a week for note reading practice. The Doflein was also discussed. I prefer the Doflein as it includes more rhythm practice and has all those wonderful duets.
Harrison, you might want to start a separate thread for your question.
Thank you so much for all the responses! I will definitely take a look at all the books and materials you mentioned. I’ve just recently incorporated doing one octave scales up each string and 2-3 octave ‘white keys’ scales into my practice sessions and just wow! I feel much more confident in my shifting and intonation when practicing my repertoire! I should’ve listened to my teacher that tells me to this at home everytime I practice. Now I know that teachers really do know what’s best for us. And I am yet to include the etudes you recommended but I will decide on which ones to do first. (I can’t do scales, 7 different etude books, and practicing my pieces at the same practice session lol)
Regarding scales: one of my kids does it by circle of 5ths, alternating major and minor. In other words, C, a minor, G, e minor, D, b minor, etc. The other one of my kids did all the majors chromatically and then all the minors chromatically. But she is 9 and newer to 3-octave scales.
If you're new to scales, start with the keys of your repertoire.
Someone said *not* Wohlfahrt... but why, I dunno! I would offer "yes" Wohlfahrt! I went to Suzuki 5 initially and when I returned to violin last year my teacher started me on Wohlfahrt op 45 book 1. Technically this is beneath the level of Suzuki 4/5 but if you learn these with a lot of attention, it's actually kind of... not. It has helped me *immensely* in rebuilding/building my foundations. Many are very musical and allow for real interpretation like a tiny piece. I don't care (at my current skill stage) about difficulty if I can't play it well. I'd rather play an etude actually WELL than not do a piece (some sort of) justice... because then I make myself too sad, lol. For shifts I am doing Flesch. Also doing a concerto, but again, one that's below my technical ability... or "ability." Despite it, so far my technique is improving all over the place!
Lydia - thanks for that!
I apologise to those who like Wolfhart's studies, but their poor musical coherence make me squirm, brought up as I was on the English Hymnal, Tudor anthems and Bach choral preludes. I was terribly lucky, even if it has made me an insufferable snob!