Repetoire for Begginners

September 10, 2020, 8:12 PM · Hi so I'm a high school junior and I have been struggling to find repetoire for myself to learn. I have never played a concerto before, and although that is my goal to eventually to play concertos like Mendalsohn or Sibeleus, I am a long ways away. But are there any ideas for peices that aren't super challenging that would help lead to more advance peices. If anyone has any suggestions I would really appreciate it. Thanks!

Replies (7)

September 10, 2020, 8:19 PM · Do you have a private teacher?

What are the two or three most recent pieces that you have learned well?

September 10, 2020, 9:35 PM · I have played small excerpts from Vivaldi's Concerto in a minor from both the first and third movement. I have also played a small portion of Meditation from Thais. I do have have a private teacher, however he ussally does not have me play large peices and rather likes to focus on smaller peices for technique purposes. However I think I might be able to learn faster if I were given a peice that I was able to use the things that I have learned so far in.
Edited: September 10, 2020, 9:48 PM · My first and strongest suggestion is to have an honest conversation with your teacher.

To be fair, there are not a lot of concertos at your level. It seems as if learning the entire Vivaldi a minor is in order. If the reason you only learned pieces of it was because it was too difficult for you, you might ask your teacher about learning the Vivaldi G major concerto. It’s not in the Suzuki books; it is somewhat easier than the a minor but it does incorporate third position.

Kuchler D major Concertino is a charming little piece, also incorporating third position but easier than Vivaldi a minor.

Meditation from Thais is very much more difficult than the Vivaldi. I can’t imagine giving both of those to a student at the same time.

Edited: September 11, 2020, 3:03 AM · It sounds as though you need a teacher who is on your wavelength or one you can trust more.

Are you a beginner, and who says so? Beginners don't play concertos. Advanced players play concertos.

Part of what one has to learn is to get from the beginning of a piece to the end. The size of such a piece is small for beginners and grows with ability and stamina. Do you ever play a whole piece, and, if so, at what level?

September 11, 2020, 10:16 AM · In addition to Mary Ellen's recommendations, look at the following (after you finish Vivaldi A Minor):

1. Portnoff Op. 14 Concertino - a beautiful piece that is a solid but manageable technical leap from the Vivaldi. Great place to develop second and third positions as well as vibrato. Look up Celia Schann's YouTube performance - wonderful.
2. Mollenhauer - Infant/Boy Paganini
3. Bach Double
4. La Folia, Suzuki Book 6.

Edited: September 11, 2020, 5:11 PM · I have a concerto suggestion for you. It's the B Minor Concerto by Oskar Rieding. It's well known to violinists -- I think even Perlman may have recorded it, but I'm not sure. Anyway it's an easy piece but it's a whole three-movement concerto. See the link below.

If you think, well, that's too easy, maybe not. Can play the whole thing without any breakdowns? Is it as well in tune as you're basically able to play the violin? (That's a starting point! The goal is to get better at this stuff.) Are you using your bow effectively? Are you making as good of a sound as you can basically make on the violin at this point? Are you playing with appropriate articulation? Are you following the dynamic markings? At the marked tempos? Can you play it from memory?

So yeah it's an easy piece, but if you don't have any experience learning longer pieces, then being able to answer "yes" to ALL of those questions, with the possible exception of memorization, might not be so easy after all.

Many teachers advance you too fast through repertoire for a whole host of reasons -- because they can see you're getting tired of what you're working on, or because they (frankly) don't want to do the hard work of teaching YOU how to do the hard work! I know because I had a teacher like that when I was your age. Something to think about anyway.

I would not attempt Bach Double until after you have done both the first and third movements of the Vivaldi. The Bach Double is in the same Suzuki Book as the Vivaldi but it's significantly harder in some ways. Meditation and La Folia are harder still.

As for the Vivaldi, the main thing when you're working on that is to isolate the hard parts and really get serious about practicing them starting from a very slow tempo and learning to set your hand positions and your string crossings with your bow so that those parts will be clean. You know what those passages are, I don't need to tell you. Work on those as if the rest of the piece doesn't even exist until you've conquered them.

If that fails then search "Rieding B Minor Violin Concerto IMSLP" on Google, and when you get there, look for the "Violin Part" by the editor "John Howard."

September 11, 2020, 6:49 PM · I agree with Mary Ellen that a conversation with your teacher is in order.

It sounds like you're playing excerpts and not "small pieces". The norm is that you learn technique through focused etudes and exercises, and then you apply that technique through your repertoire, though some teachers will purely teach technique through repertoire, especially at the beginner stage that you're at.

If you study with a teacher, though, you are generally consenting to the way that they teach. If their teaching style doesn't match your learning style, and they don't want to adapt their teaching style, then you should switch teachers.

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