Should concertos be learnt only when one is entirely secure technique-wise
I was wondering, do teachers normally give a concerto to a student only when he/she is completely ready for it technique-wise (i.e. can get it up to performance standard in matter of weeks), or when the student's technique may not be entirely up to par? Presumably, the intention in the latter case would be to use the technical difficulties in the concerto to improve technique.
Which way is better?
Looking forward to your replies!
The general way from what I understand is that people are assigned things that are just above their level so they can attain it in a reasonable amount of time. I think this is the best way. People I know go back and learn easier things because they want to learn it
My observation is that most teachers assign concertos that the student not
Wow Paul. Some people just don't know
Teachers vary in their philosophies. When I was learning the violin as a child, my teacher in my teen years ensured that with the exception of repertoire-specific problems, I had a reasonable grasp of all the techniques within a given work prior to starting it.
What Paul said.
Mary Ellen you will like my story. When I started to take lessons again, my teacher (who had already been teaching my daughter for a year) asked me to play something, so I played the first page of Mozart 3. After all, that's where I left off. He said, "You have good skill but there are many things we need to work on." I thought, sure, no problem. But then he said, "Do you have any Suzuki books?" At that point I knew where I stood. In my next lesson he was teaching me about "ring tones," which my childhood teacher had never done. That's how bad it was. My Mozart must have been "unrecognizable" indeed. In the epic moment of truth, I was assigned Vivaldi.
I see teachers fall into three categories -- I don't know which is necessarily best, though. And, of course, the teacher may work differently with different students.
@Susan, I thought your summary was excellent, though I would change one thing in your conclusion. If the teacher allows or encourages a student to stop when the piece is still unrecognizable or otherwise substainally below par, I'd say that is always a disservice.
The second case, Concertos are also used to improve technique. With only two 45min lessons a week and all the many other subjects they have, it's literally impossible to only play Concertos when they're completely ready technique wise and make good general progress.
My teacher has pretty consistently given me concertos that feel just a bit out of reach, and I think this the least controversial in the student repertoire. Stuff like Rode, Viotti, Beriot, moving into some in-between stuff like Vieuxtemps, I think makes sense to assign as a bit of a stretch - This repertoire starts to introduce the fundamentals of romantic violin playing, and it's generally not really worth playing for its own sake when you have the skills to play better pieces of music. Wieniawski 2 was a biiiig stretch for me, and so while I didn't fully get it as polished as I could have liked, it was a new kind of playing that I got a lot out of.
No Mozart concerto has been done by me. Lucky escape for Mozart!
Susan, I like your categories but would note that many teachers, especially of more advanced students, will blend your first and second categories. For instance, there might be a concerto movement that the student sits on for a year, while they simultaneously move more rapidly through a bunch of short works / sonatas.
Yes, @Lydia, very true. I've also seen the same teacher be #1 with one student, and #2 with another student, which is probably really good, individualized teaching.
Part of the decision would be what "track" the young student is on. After getting through the intermediate technical grades, the student, teacher, and parents need to do some long-range contigency planning. Are they one of the the 1% that can do the Music-Performance degrees and be a real professional?, or one of the 10% that should major in something else and be a high level amateur/semi-pro. For the former, the 6 major concertos and the 3 Mozart concertos can be postponed until they are 100% technically and musically ready. There are plenty of second-tier concertos to work on. Otherwise, they will lock in mediocre performance habits, and primitive technical decisions. And it takes a lot longer to learn a piece when you don't have the technical tools. But for the majority, music should be an enjoyable life-long avocation, so why not tackle something like the Beethoven concerto for the sheer pleasure of doing it.
It's a matter of practice too. I've learned (after being burned a few too many times) to completely avoid the dumpster fire of a new student coming in playing stuff *way* over their head, and then discover that they only expect to practice 15 minutes a day as well because their schedules are overloaded with activities.
I doubt practicing the Beethoven concerto without flawless the technique would result in much fun at all/
Susan's description of the three teacher categories is spot-on. I agree with Lydia that there is probably a blend in most teachers. I do feel that I should comment further on her Teacher 3, who "gives the student pieces that are somewhat or far above their level; usually only a low level of polish is achieved."
Damn all these people learning repertoire in a month and here I am sitting through a 6 month slog through a concerto.
Try the second movement of the Sibelius James. Sounds easy on the record ...
I find that it's motivating to me to have a range of repertoire that I'm working on, that are at differing levels of technical difficulty and musical content -- and also how much I'm "into" what I'm playing. On days when my brain is feeling sluggish or my body is feeling tired, I can work on something that suits what I'm actually able to practice productively.
Lydia, I like your philosophy. Better to practice _something_ than to not practice at all.
In my youth I could have related to all of the above and accurate comments. If my teachers had waited until "I was ready," I might not ever have played anything interesting at all. On the other hand almost none of my pieces got to a polished level which was personally frustrating for me as I never felt like I truly had anything to play for people.
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