Did some/any/all of "the greats" use fingerboard aids as beginners?
It seems that fingerboard tape is something to aid little kids who don't have a clue but as an adult beginner who plays other instruments and already familiar with the concept of intervals I haven't been using tape, doesn't seem to have hindered me so far. The idea being I want to develop an intuitive feel for where the notes are, not depend on a visual cue.
Any other adult beginners here - did you start out with tape or other visual aids?
Anyone familiar with the bios of famous players and whether they started out using fingerboard markings of some sort when they were beginners? Is it something violin teachers have always used?
I mean, why not? I did.
I would be flabbergasted to learn that the historic greats used fingerboard aids as children. They didn't even always have proper sized fractionals--wish I could remember which famous violinist I have seen a childhood picture of, with a violin clearly too big for him.
Me neither, I never had any marking on the fingerboard. I did have a tape around the bow stick at the middle point as well as 1/4 and 3/4 up. And I think that helped. Beginners tend to use only the middle of the middle of the bow and the stickers were a reminder how much more bow there was to use.
When it comes to older greats (ie born before ~1970) I would guess very few used tapes. There are a number of reasons I am making that supposition. First, most started later than current players (age 6-10 was probably most common, some even older). Most of them also took both piano and violin, at least to some extent, and so their ears were being trained, at least to some extent, by the piano. And they just didn't have the same kind of freely available fancy tape that we have these days.
I honestly cannot remember if they had me use tape in 1966 when I first learned the violin at 7. After 45 year break, when I returned (last December) I did not use tape at the strong encouragement of my teacher. Very thankful I listened.
I used tape (the automative detail tape recommended these days). Started in the 70s. Never hindered intonation development for me.
Most of the adhesive tapes on the market today were invented in the 1940s or later. Though some tapes existed earlier, they would have been both expensive and hard to find.
You know those adhesive reinforcing rings for three-hole-punched paper? The ones you lick? That's what kids had on their fingerboards when I was a boy.
Susan, the Suzuki approach was definitely known in the U.S. in the 1960s. John Kendall, the Starrs, and Alice Joy Lewis all come to mind as early proponents, and children were starting at five or younger. At age five, I was in Alice Joy Lewis's first Suzuki violin class ever which started in Ottawa, Kansas, in 1966. No tapes.
Leopold Mozart writes about markings on the fingerboard, in Chapter 2, section 10 of his Versuch einer gründlichen Violinschule.
We'll never know, because that isn't the kind of information a "great" would want to see included in his/her biography. My teacher didn't use tape, which could be why I'm still not entirely sure where to put my fingers down
I have seen non-pro cellists (and perhaps one or two pros!) in orchestra very occasionally using an inconspicuous marker high up on the fingerboard, but this is generally done to mark the location of a specific note that may be too difficult timewise to prepare for, and which they dare not risk fluffing during performance. Bearing in mind the length of the cello fingerboard this is not unreasonable.
I started at the age of seven and restarted three yeas ago. No tapes!
I don't use them with my private students, but then again, having a dedicated lesson every week, one-on-one, allows for approaches to learning proper hand frame, finger placement, and intonation that don't necessarily require visual aids like tapes.
The use of tape is more of a function of the teaching style of the instructor rather than the natural ability of a student. I don't think it particularly matters.
I watched how my daughter was taught where to put her fingers. When something was out of tune, her teacher would name a familiar tune that everyone knows like "Mary Had a Little Lamb" (or whatever happens to match the pitches in question) and explain that the pitches should sound like that. One you know how the first three notes of a major scale should sound, you're off to a good start in violin playing.
Well, maybe I go back further but when I started (1958, England) nobody used tape. I thought it weird when I first saw it in the US many, many years later.
I have found that one in ten beginners correct their intonation spontaneously. I did too, but at 15 yo, I had had 5 years of piano (a nimble left hand) and years of hymns and anthems (a polyphonic ear). And very musical parents..
Gene, I agree that the tapes are enormously useful in a large class of violin beginners such as one encounters in many public school systems. However, the danger is that the kids develop the habit of *looking* at their left hand every time they need to put down a finger. I spend a lot of time with students who come to me from such programs explaining that "low 2" isn't blue or "high 3" isn't yellow, or whatever those colors are. In my opinion the tapes become damaging pretty quickly after their initial use.
Attention span is also a major factor in determining if tapeless learning is viable.
Yes, I agree we don't want them stuck with the false equivalency of a colored tape being equal to a specific note.
I learned the violin using the Suzuki method when I was 7 yrs old, but my teacher did not put a tape on my violin. Instead, I learned by "hearing" the notes without the guide.
"Once I took the tapes off, it did not take too long for her to be in tune and adjust when needed." Sounds like it was not so damaging after all.
I am an adult beginner, just started violin a year ago. I didn't use tape. There is a reason for it, but I can't claim this is effective or better method.
@Paul Deck: "Sounds like it was not so damaging after all."
"The greats" generally seem to have started on the violin at a very young age indeed. It is therefore a good bet that they'd have little if any recollection of fingerboard tapes, which probably wouldn't have been used (if at all) for more than a small handful of lessons; by which time the little prodigy would doubtless have started on their first Mozart sonata :)
My first go at violin in the 70’s - no tapes
I started in public school group classes and I remember tapes being used. I also remember fellow students in the high school orchestra still relying on tape for basic intonation.
I started using tapes, but I distinctly remember that I would typically get tapes on the instrument, then slowly remove them as I learned how to use it. When I moved from 3/4 size to 4/4 size, my teacher didn't use any tapes on the full size instrument, so I essentially had to relearn intervals without tapes starting from the age of 12 or so.
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