High Level Pre-college Kids
Hey everyone, I know this has probably been discussed ten million times, but I know there are many really talented young children who play at a high level e.g playing a beautiful Tchaik Concerto at age 12. Were these children just naturally gifted from the get go at age 4 or 5, or did they just practice really hard starting at age 7-9? Were these children pushed hard by their parents or did they just want to practice by themselves? I'm sure it's a combination of factors but just curious.
While there are exceptions, the vast majority have some of the following characteristics. 1) One or both parents are musicians. 2) Family is wealthy. 3) Child was started in a high quality program with a high quality teacher before age 5. 4) Practice was required and extensive.
By the way, there is a book called Producing Excellence that explains all this better than I did above.
Well, I started violin not that long ago, 4-5 years ago. I think I'm a form of "talented" for my age, 13. For the first two years I think, I did practice some, but it was never a priority to practice every day until last year, when I began to have my orchestra class every day. My parents never forced me to practice, and they still don't because I choose to do it by myself, working hard on what I play.
I can't really speak for Nathan Cole but I did take his course last summer and I enjoyed it. If he offers it again this summer, I recommend it as well worth the fee. My "sense" of his description of his own trajectory as a young violinist was that he somehow managed to be admitted to an excellent conservatory and quickly discovered how far behind he was. He also realized that practicing 6 hours a day wouldn't catch him up because everyone else was doing that already. As I recall, he claims to have, by sheer necessity, discovered and developed his own practice techniques that yielded equivalent results in less time. My suspicion is that he simply had very high levels of native talent and intellect that his childhood teachers (and his parents) did not fully excavate. (I further suspect that as a kid from nowhere special, he didn't feel as entitled or boastful as his more pedigreed peers but went about the business of improving -- quietly but with great determination.) I believe some of Nathan's self-discoveries are now the basis of his own proprietary teaching methods. From participating in his course I can attest that some of his approaches are unconventional by common standards. For example he does not advocate swinging one's elbow back and forth under the violin to reach notes on different strings, which was an elementary feature of what I was taught, and I actually scold myself for getting lazy about it. Nathan says that he basically figured out that he doesn't need to do that, so it's a waste of motion, and you can't do it fast anyway. To a point, it works. (For me, it does not work for the Bach E Major Praeludio, as a frustrating counterexample.) Nathan also advocates a lot of self-experimentation regarding what he calls "Minimum Violin Pressure" which is a simple idea on the surface, and not original to him, but what he is really advocating (I infer) is a deep dive into developing finger sensitivity -- and your listening skills (Fischer would agree entirely there) -- so that you can control your left-hand finger pressure very finely to meet instantaneous needs. I further submit that the two skills I have just mentioned seem closely correlated. I hope I have not misrepresented anything Cole stands for as I have nothing but respect and admiration for him and his methods.
Even Suzuki acknowledges in his books that some kids got stuff right away, and other kids were a labor of months or years to be able to get to some basic playing competence.
Nathan Cole claims to be one of the laziest practicers on the planet, but my sense is that that sentence is relative to the myriad of talent he was up against.
Thanks guys, this all makes sense :)
Buri wrote, "mastering the violin is basically self-adjustment and experimentation with proportions in relation to the basic essentials of music."
I think a few basic principles help for learning violin:
As an extraordinarily lazy practicer as a kid, but with exacting teachers that gave long lessons, a significant percentage of my time spent with a violin in a given week would be in circumstances of active instruction. That had the efficiency of having relatively little opportunity to do something incorrectly.