Self teaching experiences
As some of you eventually will remember, I'm a late starting adult amateur. I started at age 40, and after half a year with a teacher that wasn't a good match, I found a teacher I felt I could work with really well, except for our both time schedules, although I felt there was a bit too much "pieces" and not enough of "etudes" (basics, drill).
However, my right hand works surprisingly well, and I'm quite happy with my overall tone and bowing technique, regarding the short time I'm in yet (a bit more than three years now with violin, and viola for one year).
Things I've played up to an acceptable amateur performance level (and part of them dared to perform in public) were a handful Vivaldi concertos, the Bach double, Méditations de Thais, Shostakovichs 5 Pieces for 2 Violins and Piano, and on viola four of Bruchs 8 Pieces for Viola, Clarinet and Piano, and the Telemann Viola Concerto. Besides some early student concertos and some dozens of smaller pieces, this covers pretty well my current repertoire. Well, especially the Bach double wasn't top of the pop, just to give you an idea where I am.
Since this year, I couldn't take lessons anymore. New job, and life just came in between, the same old story that happens too often with us adult amateurs. But I won't give it up. Even if I can get a total of only about 2 hours of practice in an average week, I still feel that it's possible to make slow progress. The viola concert I studied completely on my own, and my teacher was friendly enough to sit in the audience and give some feedback afterwards. I'd prefer to continue lessons as soon as possible, but unfortunately I cannot see how this would happen in the near future, unless I'd find someone willing to give lessons on weekends. And even with one weekend lesson every other weekend, I could never be able to make sure there would be enough practice time to show up at least halfway prepared. There are not a few weeks when I cannot touch an instrument at all... So I'll have to get along with what I've got at the moment.
First I set out for a "daily etude challenge" when I tried to work on something completely new every practice session. While this mainly served my sight reading skills, it was too unstructured.
What would be great would be a resource for practicing the basic drills and patterns in a structured way. I came over Kayser Op.20 and Op.44, which I definitely like, since this is enough of drill, but doubtless real music at the same time, and part of it really beautiful. I don't want to spend the tiny amount of time that's left on things like Sevcik or Schradieck - I know things like that are necessary to consolidate transferable skills, but it's just too boring to have to work on it exclusively...
Someone else who might have been in my shoes, how did you cope, and what helped you stay on track and progress systematically? Are there some other and maybe even better etude books that would meet my criteria (progressive, musically attractive, but also containing enough of that healthy Sevcik-Schradieck-ingredients)? And, to the teachers out there, what do you think about the Kayser etudes and how they're structured? I'm only through the first few yet, and it seems they actually meet my current level. Any input welcome!
I like the Kayser etudes. You might also like Mazas op. 36 and Dont op. 37, both of which are very playable in the early etudes although they might get harder faster than the Kayser as you progress through.
Also, consider taking the occasional lesson via Skype.
good on you for following through on meditation, i lost interest and switch pieces after the first half.
Nuuska, It seems to me you have done very well for yourself.
I would think that ViolinLab would be helpful for your situation Nuuska. And Skype lessons in general.
The possible dangers and drawbacks of being an autodidact on an inherently difficult instrument such as the violin usually become obvious to the person concerned, and they try to do something about it, such as finding a teacher and taking advice from experts. Sadly, the result for those who choose, for whatever reason, not to seek out a teacher and ignore advice from others is exemplified in the posts of a member here.
HAHAHA Trevor. They do not know when to stop...
The individual initiating the threads in question is not the only one who can't stop. Neither than those responding, apparently. Like moths to a flame ...
Indeed, Paul! Indeed.
Nuuska, what you want is a set of two books called "Preparing for Kreutzer" by Whistler. They are a miniature all-in-one package of technical work. They consist primarily of abridged versions of important excerpts (the first volume has a lot of Kayser and Sitt, as you go along you get more Mazas and Dont) along with targeted technical drills from Schradieck, Sevcik, Dancla, etc. There are some great left-hand drills similar to Flesch "Urstudien" and Simon Fisher's "Warming Up" tapping drills that I haven't seen anyplace else. They're organized in a fairly useful way, and do not bomb you with an overwhelming sea of material (I.e., there's 1 page of bowing variations, not 50). You can get a reasonably comprehensive technical workout in 10 - 20 minutes.
Peters Violinschulwerk (2 vols., Edition Peters), a well thought-out compilation of selected etudes (incl. not only Wohlfahrt, Kayser and Mazas, but also lots by Baklanowa, Jardanyi, Bloch, Martinu, Beriot, Sitt, Fiorillo and many others). Arranged according to the technical aspect they address.
I agree with Nate's suggestion--I had forgotten about those Whistler books "Preparing for Kreutzer" but they are indeed excellent. I would amend his scale book advice, however. For the OP, I think the Barbara Barber "Scales for Advanced Violinists" would be the most appropriate scale book.
Mary Ellen, that Barbara Barber book was not on my radar. Thanks for pointing it out - it looks great!
Thank you all for your kind advice. Lydia & Pamela, with Skype lessons it's the same as with lessons at a studio - I should be able to keep an appointment, which my current job actually doesn't allow me at all... Well, since I'm living in Europe, I could book a midnight lesson with a teacher in the US, but I wouldn't expect my neighbours and my family to appreciate this concept a lot...
Nuuska, you are welcome. I can't say why someone would program Kreutzer so early that way; maybe just out of traditional thinking. TBH, I don't have much use for Kreutzer these days, and I wish I hadn't wasted so much time on it in highschool. It's an excruciatingly long slog, and the payoff is minimal, compared to more modern methods.
Increase speed of playing slowly might be useful to keep your ability stable, and this can be done with piece you already learn before.
I give the Barber "Scales for Advanced Violinists" to my intermediate students. It's three octave scales and arpeggios with accessible fingerings (I prefer them to the Flesch fingerings), and some basic double stop scales which I don't use the first time through the book. And it starts on the G string and goes up by half steps rather than working through the circle of fifths as Flesch does, so the first scales are really easy. Often I skip C#/Db the first time through (I have my students keep circling through the book, always adding something on each repetition--speed, keys we missed the first time, selected double stop scales, etc).
Mary Ellen, thanks again. Ordered Barbers Scale book and both volumes of the Whistlers today. They weren't hard to find via the world's largest online store even in Europe, and compared to many books of German origin, they're really not expensive.
Perhaps a usefull addition: there are teachers you can send a video. They give you feedback also by video. This is an example: https://artistworks.com/violin-lessons-richard-amoroso (I don't have experience with this, so I cant say anything about how it works or the quality) I suppose more teachers are willing to make such an arrangement when asked.
All the best with it Nuuska, keep it up!
M Snellen, that's an interesting idea I didn't think about yet. It will not be like the real thing since there will not be a constant feedback which in my opinion is elementary in good teaching, but it might be valuable as long as it would be about addressing a particular problem, and why certain things "just wouldn't work".
I know of one adult violin learner on YouTube who is learning almost completely by video exchange because she lives in a remote part of South America and doesn't always have a consistent enough internet connection for Skype lessons. She seems to be progressing quite well, considering the obstacles.
Hi back there. Whistlers 2 volumes arrived this morning, as well as Barbara Barbers scales. Didn't have the time to have a look at the scales (and already seeing myself making a big bow around it, finding endless excuses why it just shouldn't be today...), but the Whistlers are great.
Make it a habit to begin each practice session with some scale practice! If you have only 20min, do it just 5mins, if you have an hour, do it 15mins. You will warm up and will be all the better for the fun Whistler part. Plus, your intonation will thank you!
Jean! My intonation is great! For a former pianist... okay, it sucks...
... on the other hand, there are many etudes included which let you to a lot of scale work anyway...
Yes, there is a little bit of scales work in the Whistler "Exercises for Daily Practice" too, especially in the second book with the "Cadenza" exercises. I wouldn't say they are sufficient to develop good scale skills, but they will at least "keep your hand in" if you go for a while without doing building practice for scales.
This is a wonderful thread! I now have yet more books winging their way to me :)
Nate B: curious about that Mazas "string skipping" etude, precisely which number is that please?
Jean, in Whistler Vol. 2 (the blue one) it's on page 30 and is called "String Skipping Study No. 1"