Teaching Methods for Adults
I had a teacher who took me thru Suzuki Violin 3. We practiced scales and third position too. She left the area, and I found another teacher who has taken me back to "String Builder, Book 1" and in over a year and 1/2, I am only on page 10. Looks like I don't have perfect pitch and my bow isn't always straight. String Builder is playing one or two notes, so I am forgetting the other notes and my scales. My question: Will I get good intonation and a straight bow if I can practice the scales again or do I need to go back to the beginning to be a good player. I don't think I"ll live long enough to go through everything again, as I am an older adult. :). She is suggesting I go back to Suzuki book one as well.
Any advice welcome. Thanks!
If you are not making music then there is no point to the practice. And musical etudes are songs that double as scale and bow exercises.
I don't know what's going on in your lessons- with your teacher or with you, but 10 pages in 1.5 years isn't reasonable progress, in my opinion as a teacher. I don't know how long it took you to go through Suzuki 1-3, but if it was anything less than a year and a half to two years, that was too fast.
It took me close to three years (I had violin ten years ago and picked it up again) to get to Suzuki 3. My current teacher is a real perfectionist, and has an advanced degree in violin but not in teaching. If that matters. She doesn't like to progress unless the tone rings and the bow is perfectly straight. Obviously, I'm deficient in that. :) That is how she was taught, but her goal is to be professional.
Six weeks from now I will "celebrate" 81 years since I receive my first violin. After 6 months of "do it myself" and 7 years of professional lessons I quit because I had gone that far yet knew no other child who played a portable instrument and I was unhappy with my progress.
May I respectfully suggest that a conversation between you and your teacher is way overdue. Ten pages in 1.5 years is crazy.
On one hand, I understand prioritizing technique over repertoire (such that you don't spend life eking out repertoire that is beyond your technique), but on the other, the degree to which that is done could be excessive or unnecessary depending on the context. No teacher would say that good intonation or straight bow aren't important but the differences between teachers will be how accurate/consistent to expect at certain stages of your development as a player. "Going back" to Suzuki book 1 basically means there's too much going in the music of book 3 to be able to spare the concentration to pay attention to things like pitch accuracy or bow contact point.
Thanks Andrew, very wise advice. So encouraging to hear how long you have been playing music.
Thank you Mary Ellen, and everyone else too. I had a talk by phone with a potential new teacher and she gets what I am trying to do. I really like my current teacher personally, so it will be hard to leave. But i had to sort it out and have lost so much confidence in my own ability with this method. I am grateful for this forum and the expertise here. Thanks again!!
Good luck Kathy, it's hard to change but you need to do what's best for you. I'm an adult returnee (9 months ago) and am making good progress in Suzuki 2. I've always had outside pieces - some I've picked turned out to be more challenging than I anticipated.
I started just before I turned 68, and never touched a Suzuki book. My wise and talented teacher had me jump right in to exercises and tunes. I tried those little colored lines on the violin, but had them removed after two months, I decided to get pitch and intonation through instinct and my ears. I'm now at 2 1/3 years, 97 lessons, and 1000 hours of practice/playing. We're knocking out Irish tunes, Scandinavian tunes, classical music, fiddle tunes, and pop tunes. I'm dedicated to learning technique, but I'm also dedicated to having fun with a violin. How is my technique? Better than it was last month, but not as good as it will be next month. I tape my lessons, then I sit down and write them out, placing the written copy on my music stand and reading the notes prior to each practice session. I practice for roughly 60 - 120 minutes a day. Frankly, I find the philosophy of waiting-until-you-are-ready to be total bunk. Just go out there and play somewhere. I mean, I'm 70. Waiting isn't an option. After I played for 12 months I decided I deserved my own recital. I booked a pub on a Sunday afternoon, invited my friends, and while they ate pizza and drank a few beers, I played. (The pizza got better reviews than I did, but so what? It was fun! I may do it again!) At this point I'm not locked into anything. I've learned all the major and minor scales, I play second and third positions, and two months ago I started playing in open mic shows with those 20-30 year old hipsters.(Narcissism is alive and well and apparently in its 20's) You want to play? Then get someone who isn't stuck on Suzuki and perfection. Just get out there and go for it.
Kathy, how much do you practice each week, on average? Would you say your practice is consistent or sporadic?
…...Will I get good intonation and a straight bow if I can practice the scales again or do I need to go back to the beginning to be a good player...
Kathy, when you have a chance, please answer my earlier question.
Erik Williams, I practice 30 min to one hour per day. I am not always practicing what we have gone over because playing the same two notes over and over is frankly, boring. So I try to learn some celtic tunes. Now that orchestra has started up again, I have those songs to practice on my own. I wish we could practice orchestra pieces too. my lessons are an hour.
Here is a good scale book for a beginning adult, an oldie but a goodie:
Simple answer is scales and studies never go away. Should be a big part of everyone’s practice routine, regardless of experience. My teachers philosophy is that you could spend 100% of your time on scales and studies, so when music is put in front of you , it is playable immediately. The only thing then to work on would be the phrasing/expression
Kathy - this takes my attention: "I am not always practicing what we have gone over"
Kathy - I'm a very late starter (60s) and self-teaching from necessity. It's not ideal, but it does mean I can focus on my main priority, which is having fun with music I love.
One third scales, one third sorting out new stuff, and one third known stuff.
I recall it was Simon Fischer who said (something to the effect) that whatever the eventual aim of any player, if they are going to put bow to string at all then they should learn the best possible way of doing it.
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