Should I change my piece?

June 29, 2020, 5:33 PM · Hello, I began studying the Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso by Saint-Saens in December, for instruction of my teacher, like 8 months ago, in my country it was summer holidays, and I studied and studied. The start of school would happen in March, and it happened; but the start of the conservatory was in april. Then, the pandemic striked, but my teacher only said "keep working on it" and well, here we are. At this point, I can play a very dodgy version and i can't play some passages. I keeped studying it because i knew if I could take face-to-face lessons i could succeed, but as the months go and go, this seems more far as here we are in the 102th day of lockdown. I'm finding myself repeatly burning out, partly because of the time and by other way by hitting some dead ends/walls. Starting to study this I think was a quite big leap, and I'm now starting to think if I should bring it up with my teacher(don't know if it's the correct phrasing). My only recover from burnouts are when I found a new way of practicing, but that quickly fades away in about 2 weeks. 15 days ago I set the goal to play decently the most difficult part in my opinion, that is the end of page 2 and all the page 3, and now i kind of can but in a very slow tempo and i don't think I could quicken it up in the near future.
So, what do you think?

Replies (9)

June 29, 2020, 5:43 PM · I hope you are practicing a few other things side by side, like etudes or solo Bach or other pieces. Prioritizing those in your practice and allowing a *temporary* respite from the Saint Saens may give your brain a little rest, and you may find that the Saint Saens feels a bit easier when coming back to it.
June 29, 2020, 5:48 PM · Yes, I'm with some Kreutzer and Flesch, also i'm doing a bit of the Basics from Fischer... but to pieces, my teacher only does me to do one at the time, so that's why I was thinking giving the saint saens a bit of rest
June 29, 2020, 8:44 PM · Simple answer: take a break and come back. A month or two is good, but longer if you want. When you come back to it, your progress will shoot up (even after the immediate process of just remembering how to play it).
June 30, 2020, 5:54 AM · I agree with Christian and Cotton that taking a break from the Saint Saens is a good idea. Not every piece is appropriate for everybody at the same place in their violin journey. The frustration you are feeling about this piece shows that it's not a good piece for you right now.

In addition to the suggestions to be sure to work on etudes, I would suggest finding some music that is easy so you can play it just for fun. Reviewing pieces you've already learned is always a good idea and can help you realize how much you've improved since you worked on them originally.

Do you ever just play your violin for the sheer enjoyment of it, or is all of your violin playing "practice" trying to satisfy the expectations of your teacher? In my opinion all musicians at every level should be working on "fun" music, whether it's review pieces from earlier in their study or pop songs, jazz songs, broadway/movie musical songs, lighter classical music, simply making music up on the spot.

June 30, 2020, 11:46 AM · Santiago, I try to be circumspect in my criticism of teachers who I have never met, but it sounds like your teacher kind of set you adrift on this one. There are stretch pieces, and there are STREEEEEEETCH PIECES, and it sounds like the Rondo may have been a bit much. I don't know what kind of options you have for teachers in your area, but at this time at least, if you aren't taking lessons online, perhaps you can seek out another teacher for some online lessons.
June 30, 2020, 12:18 PM · What conservatory? That’s so cool!
June 30, 2020, 1:28 PM · Xuanyuan, I'm in my city conservatory the so called Conservatory of the Buenos Aires City Astor Piazzolla, it isn't very good.
Concerning my teacher, well, she gave me a bit of video lessons over etudes and such but for the Rondo, she always says "keep going".
Concerning "playing for fun" my primarily source of that is when I'm warming up, I play some old pieces and some improvisation. I would really enjoy to play a bit of jazz, but I don't know where to find any sheet music or something, because I know a bit of standards, I own a Real Book but I don't know "how to jazz violin": that is usually only when i play piano or guitar.
I think I'll give some review to the Mozarts 3rd and 5th, in retrospective, I think I haven't studied enough the other movements.
July 1, 2020, 4:56 AM · "how to jazz violin" -- simply watch and listen to youtube videos of great jazz violinists like Joe Venuti, Ray Nance (with the Duke Ellington Orchestra), Stephane Grapelli, Jean-Luc Ponty. The biggest aspects of jazz violin (before getting into jazz improvisation) is to swing the 8th notes in the correct pieces (latin pieces and jazz-rock pieces are not swung) and play smoothly.

It sounds like your teacher doesn't really know how to approach the Rondo or she should be able to give you some video lessons on things like fingerings or bowings, and give you some sort of road-map of what sections to work on first.

In the absence of that sort of guidance, if you do wish to continue to work on it, my advice is that you may be trying to master sections which are too large. Break those down into much shorter sections, some of them perhaps only a single measure if necessary. Master a short section, then work on the next short section, then put the two together.

July 1, 2020, 1:40 PM · I would definitely recommend taking a break from the piece. Music even at its most enjoyable can be draining, and particularly frustrating when a piece is difficult. It's not an indication of how well you play/or lack thereof, I look at it as the piece is just not cooperating with you at the moment.

I would recommend either moving to a different piece (expanding your repertoire in general) and of course focusing on the basics to maintain your technique in times where face to face lessons are more difficult. If you do decide to continue with the piece, I would as David Bailey suggested work on short sections at a time to ease the frustration and master the particular technique required. Either way, prioritizing your mental health during this time is important and you're valid for either decision! After a while, you will have a fresh perspective on the piece and hopefully it will be less frustrating to learn! Good luck. :)

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