Systematic progress in self teaching...?
As some of you may remember, here's an adult late starter who had to quit lessons 18 months ago due to his daytime job with an irregular and dense working schedule.
I definitely don't suffer from a lack of self-motivation, not at all. My job doesn't allow a regular practice schedule, so I'm mainly thrown back to the weekends, plus eventually succeed in stealing half an hour here and twenty minutes there two or three times during the week at maximum. About 80% of my practice time goes to viola, 20% to violin. I try to pack in some etudes, scales and basic technical stuff, but to be honest most of the time is noodling through pieces, polishing them a bit and trying to build up some repertoire that feels "easily accessible" within my range. This contributes a lot to come down after a stressful day and maintain mental health, but isn't what I'd regard as a systematic approach to improve.
Despite being teacherless, and having to notice that part of my technical skills are running wild, amazingly and to my own surprise there is still some noticeable progress. Especially reading music has improved a lot, and not only in alto clef. Double stops, higher positions, stability of intonation - pieces that I gave up to work on even a year ago are now accessible to sight reading. Nevertheless I don't feel that I'm making "real" progress, what would mean that I could work on more challenging repertoire than back then. It's rather that I feel more confident, and that playing a stringed instrument has become more of a second nature, if this makes sense. (To give you a dimension, I lately polished on the Bach double, Massenet Meditation de Thais, Bruch 8 pieces (No. 1, 2 & 4) and Bach Cello suite No.1 transcribed for viola, and tried to get started with Schuberts Arpeggione Sonata which still definitely is by far out of reach in some parts. Most of these were already studied without a teacher, but having a teaching friend abroad to occasionally ask things if I'm feeling stuck with something.)
I know I have to be glad and grateful for what I achieved, it's more than I could expect in my situation, because I rather had seen myself falling into frustration and eventually stop. Instead, making music has become the most important factor in keeping myself safe and sane.
Any ideas how I could pack in some technics systematically, not just doing random stuff? There's not enough time to go through any dedicated etude books (which I haven't found to be very systematically anyway, but I may lack experience and overview). At the moment I'm trying to force myself to ten or fifteen minutes of long slow bows, upbow staccato, and scales / arpeggios / double stops in the same key as the "piece" I'm currently working on. Usually this is restricted to the weekends, during the week I'm lacking time, energy and motivation.
Any experiences from folks who have been in a similar situation? I'm sure I'm not the only one here.
I'm not asking for a dead sure recipe to skyrocket my abilities within five minutes per week. And yes I know, I should change my life, work less, eat healthy, do sports, and get a teacher. Everything planned, but that's a long term project.
You could look at published syllabi for suggestions on organization of technique and also studies. E.g. the RCM here - it has specific technical requirements for each level, and selections of studies from the standard sets, which helps you reduce the options.
I agree with the above, having self-taught all the way from zero to showing up at my first lesson with a mostly-learned Brahms E-flat major viola sonata 16 years later, in my case because I didn't think any teacher would accept me. I organized my technical practice around the published ABRSM and RCM syllabi all the way up until I reached the end of the numbered grade levels.
I'm not far from being self-taught, having had about 12 irregular lessons in 2 years, supplemented with Galamian.
I'm self teaching too, mostly for financial reasons, but early cello more than violin, since I injured my back and can't hold a fiddle for very long.
AMEB charges for digital syllabuses, really? Strewth!
Based on your post, if I was your teacher I would probably recommend:
Yes, Gordon. Forgot about that when I posted, though. It's one of the reasons I teach the English syllabi when parents ask for exams...
You know what they say - New Zealand is Australia with culture!
Ingrid, thanks for reminding me of melodious double stops. They've come up a few times and I keep meaning to chase them up. This time it's school holidays so I'll have time to find it.
Question: What is your ultimate dream or goal for all this?
"two minutes of working on 2 bars of a Kreutzer study will improve your technique very slowly and gradually."
Ingrid, thank you - I'll keep that in mind. Although my collection of etudes and other technical stuff already is rather impressive (I really tend to getting bogged down in them and lacking a concept), I ordered the Trott right away. Not completely sure about the Suzuki Books, although I do get your point about its systematic. Maybe it's because it is so uncommon here in Europe, or because I'm too used to playing a piece completely, and not only one movement. From a pedagogical point of view, I know you're right. I'll try to buy a PDF Version for my iPad, if there is some.
Andrew H., I appreciate to hear your story, it gives confidence that things cam be achieved this way!
Chris, you're so right! A little bit is always better than nothing. And it's helpful to focus on small chunks. If I could be more patient with myself, this would most probably accelerate my learning curve. But alas, I'm not the most patient person ever...
Nuuska, most of the Suzuki Viola books actually have all of the movements for the pieces (at least books 6+) there are enough big multi-movement pieces in there that you can skip the few things you don't care for.
Ingrid, that's good news. And even better: it's available as an ebook, even specifically for iOS...
When I was teaching myself CG, I found that ABRSM, up to and including grade 5, put all of its materials into compendia, but as soon as you got to grade 6 material, you had to (?) buy it stand-alone (I.e. you get to choose what you want to play, not tolerate what they chose to put in their compendia), so I rushed to get that far as quickly as possible.
Hi, you have said yourself that you are surprised about your progress when you compare your current level with last year’s.