How to practice when skills are getting rusty?
A very warm greeting to everyone.
I studied under a teacher until I completed my Grade 7 violin exam. Since then, I have been staying in a city far from my hometown to pursue undergraduate program (NOT MUSIC). It has been almost 4 years I just practice purely like a strings fan i.e. I was not taking it very seriously as I used to be. Right now, I want to brush up and hone in my skills (i.e. bowing, fingerings, vibrato, etc.) but I am lost of my progress. I won't be having a teacher for the next 1 year. I don't want the skills to be rusty. I wish to know more about the materials that of higher grades (6,7&8) students to revise my skill sets as I'm planning to take grade 8 exam 2-3 yrs from now. Besides, I would be yearning to learn about the materials that students taking Diploma and Bachelor's Degree in violin major will be studying/practicing. Maybe there are sonatas, concertos,studies,etudes?? How can I get back on track in improving my violin progress? May I have some helpful advice?
Can you find a teacher in the city that you live in now?
This is a terrific question. I find Lydia's answer, while obviously reasonable, taps into a deep-seated personal frustration.
Katie, I think teachers are generally afraid of telling adults what to do.
I find the "returning" violinist needs to patiently regain physical flexibility and strength but also re-awaken dormant neurones!
Maybe I was just lucky, but I'm an adult returner and managed to find an absolutely fantastic teacher at my first attempt.
The OP asked what she could work on to brush up her skills. Studies! Start with Kayser -- too easy? Okay but do some of them anyway to bring back your foundation. Then move on to Schradieck, Dont Op 37, Kreutzer, and eventually Rode. But just like your childhood experience, don't try to move up too fast. Make sure your hand positions and posture are secure. You might need a different setup (SR, CR) than you had as a kid. Avoid tension -- but especially watch for it in your neck and forearms. Those are good indicators that you're overdoing it. Look for intonation, tone, clarity in your string crossings, etc. Use a mirror and a metronome: Old school.
I think it's easier to guide intermediate-level adult students than advanced adult students, as intermediate-level players are still doing a lot of building-block technique. At the advanced level, the path isn't clear, especially because building technique at that level may take more practice time than most adults have.
Keep your previously learned skills going by regular practice of the works from Grade 7. Maybe add the Bach from grade 8.
I find having a teacher is still useful because he can help me reach a higher technical level more quickly than I could on my own and with fewer dead ends. Also I greatly value his musical advice.
If I'm inferring from the OP's post correctly, he is a young person a little over the age of a typical college- or graduate-level conservatory student, so he might still fit into an "appropriate" student category in the mind of a teacher.
I never consider any music "easy". Even in a simple folk tune (which Mozart may well have used) there is a lot of unnoticed technical underpinning and detail that needs to be got right to really get at what the music is all about. So go for those "easy" studies!
If it were me, I'd start with the standard RCM (Royal Conservatory of Music) work books (Violin technique and etudes), 2 levels down from where I left off. The programs suggests numerous studies and repertoire appropriate to each level in addition to what is in the workbooks. If you are struggling go down more levels as much as you need to. https://bookstore.rcmusic.com/us_store/?p=2&series_layer=435
The first few pages of Schradieck are unlikely to do much damage unless you do them for hours on end. A lot depends on your discipline for not ingraining bad habits, which is unfortunately very easy to do.
Even though I think it may not apply to the OP, Katie B. brings up issues that are on my mind a lot: 1. how violin teachers perceive and teach those of us in our forties and beyond in comparison to how we were taught as adolescents; 2. how we are different as students than when we were adolescents. Maybe for discussion on another thread?
Definitely for another thread.
This is a fascinating discussion with many good insights by all. I am an adult who would prefer to be taught as I was as a child. My wife, a returning pianist is the opposite. She is the one these teachers who work with adults are teaching to. She wants to work on what she wants to work on, and not be told too much, or have too many exercises. She wants real 'pieces.' And she has a limited time to practice as a working adult. So the teacher she has is perfect for her. But if that teacher were a violin teacher for me, I'd be frustrated.
It also looks like the OP never entirely stopped playing, but simply hasn't practiced seriously for four years. That's different from most returners who have stopped completely.
Thanks Christian Lesniak for the recommendations! I appreciate everyone's response. But I still have a question out of curiosity. What are the violin solos compositions that are quite frequently performed by concert violinists? Is there a way to watch the full concerts online?
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