Methodologies for learning Violin
What methodologies are there for learning violin besides Suzuki and O'Connor. And I admit I'm likely misusing the word methodology here. I keep hearing that the Suzuki books contain no method.
Anyway, finally found a teacher I like, but I like to have a game plan, know what's coming etc, when learning stuff. This is why I asked to be switched back to Suzuki after she had me on All For Strings for a while to teach me reading. I'm grateful to be a budding reader now, but just looking for some sort of roadmap.
I liked Suzuki because of the progressive nature of the pieces. Even though Minuet 2 in book 1 is giving me fits on string crossings, and feels like a major leap, I somehow trust the "road map" of Suzuki, just because. Very likely I have no idea whether I should or not.
I know there's "Strictly Strings", "All for Strings", "Essential Elements", and just wondering what else there is.
I guess I haven't been with my teacher long enough to totally trust her reflexes on song choice (I push back sometimes). I can be kinda ornery sometimes.
But I'd like to have some sort of road map to other ways of learning. Any feedback out there? I come from a poorly self-taught fiddling background. Goals? Blues, rock, cajun, and if I ever developed the chops, and my memory and reading skills were sufficient, some classical in some community orchestra MAYBE.
The Suzuki program has very successfully launched thousands of fine violinists. Even using the Suzuki books supplemented with various teacher-selected etudes or "exercises" has been successful. I started using the Suzuki books for teaching in the late 1970s after about 12 years of using the same more conventional methods by which I had been taught through the 1940s.
As a returning beginner as of almost 6 months ago, my teacher started me on Essential Elements to build my reading skills (I got away with playing my ear in my old school orchestra). He uses the Suzuki books for repertoire and we negotiate my "outside" pieces - so am currently on Minuet 2 in Suzuki 1 and Marche (Bach) as my outside piece.
I am very fond of the Joachim Violin School (actually written for the most part by Andreas Moser, his assistant). it is old school but it is good stuff. check it out on IMSLP.
It's not the choice of music, it's how it's taught.
both my previous teacher and current have said that I do not have to perfect or finish a Suzuki piece before moving on. I know some teachers want Suzuki pieces perfected before moving on. I don't like giving up, but I also feel that trying something for a while, then moving on to even more difficult material makes the previous difficult material easier to do, and also allows time for the neural pathways in the brain to assimilate and encode the piece that was left behind, instead of drilling drilling drilling on a piece. Minuet 2 is eating my lunch, but she gave me a method for working with it. I'll try that a while before moving on.
One of the things I learned from teaching "music" and string instrument playing is how differently some people's minds can work. The effective teacher is alert to this and fashions the lessons and progress accordingly and will also select specific musical compositions for added motivation, experience and technical development.
For classic-oriented students I prefer the Doflein series- 5 books.
Suzuki's method involves rote learning (and listening and memorization) at the beginning because most 3 and 4 year-old children can't read yet. It parallels language development, where one learns to speak their primary language before learning to read it. The issue with music literacy with Suzuki Method students arose when it was introduced to areas (like the US) where music reading was not part of the standard curriculum as it is in Japan, where to even be a pre-school teacher, one has to pass a piano proficiency assessment.
Jay - thanks for your reply. I had started wondering the same thing but hadn't asked my teacher yet. I've too many other questions for him as it is!
"Kids starting on the [Suzuki] method often can't even read music, so there is no supplemental material." It's not true. Kids learn to play by ear and end up playing a lot of additional tunes. My daughter started Suzuki cello at the age of 4 and by the time she was 6 or 7 she could play Christmas carols, tunes she heard on the radio, Happy Birthday, and even her big sister's (Suzuki) violin rep, all by ear. Learning to read music later was more of a challenge than I expected, but we overcame that by and by.
As a teacher I've worked with most beginner books over the years. There is nothing that great IMO. Books like Essential Elements spend a couple of pages on open strings then introduce three fingers in the next two pages - usually a huge leap for young kids. Then, about a further 6 pages still on pizzicato, expecting the student to be very patient and have faith playing some very uninspiring exercises. Like pretty much every beginner book you get the the version of Jingle Bells with the wrong rhythm, so that you have to tell kids they are playing it 'wrong', because it's not what's on the page (that's the end of trusting your musical instincts and playing how you have heard the melody). Eventually you get to the bow and then you take a step back playing single note exercises for the next few pages. At this stage the student may think, 'Is this really worthwhile and enjoyable?' and perhaps quit. Other books are pretty much the same. Can anybody point to a book that's different?
I used Samuel Applebaum’s String Builder to start when I was a kid. I’m neutral about recommending it (I just don’t know how it compares). But since you’re looking for options, I thought I’d mention it.
We have gone through Suzuki, Flesch, Sevcik, Schradieck, Wohlfahrt, Kayser, standard concertos, Kreisler pieces, etc with multiple teachers. At this point, I can confidently say, what matters is good teaching and that starts from setup and basic techniques.
Suzuki is a method though. The OP asked for methodologies.
If someone can modify and make s grown up edition of Adventures in Violinland, that would be a great choice for grown ups. Christopher, have you tried it with your younger students?
I love String Builder, as mentioned by Jocelyn above.
The Mark O'Connor book might be good for you.
I bought one. Wasn't real moved by his selection of pieces. Some of his later books looked more interesting. I know, build ability to get there.
In addition to what has been mentioned: