Absolute beginner starting violin at third position.
I myself am learning third position using the Doflein method book three. In some of my research for practice third position repertoire I read that some teachers, way back before Suzuki became “the standard”, used to start off violin beginners from the third position. I think that might have been a good idea since it brings the fourth finger into heavy use right away and the finger stretches would be easier.
Did anyone here start in third? Would you have started in third it if you had the choice and the knowledge you have now? Can anyone recommend a teaching method book that starts off in third position.
Checking your profile it looks like you were an "absolute beginner" 5 years ago. So, how has it been going for you?
Hi Andrew. I was hoping you would weigh in. I think I will always be in the beginner category especially as it is defined by others on this site ie. What level classical repertoire are you playing? Getting into third position has lead me to the question on why it took so long to get here. I went by the syllabus of study Doflein laid out. I figured I didn’t have any expertise to question that. But I wish I had.
My first two years of lessons were with the Laoureux method, which starts in first position. Leopold Mozart's method begins in first position. Baillot's method starts in first position. I don't think you can pin any of this on Suzuki.
I've never heard of anybody starting out in third position. It doesn't seem to make sense for many reasons.
Ann, I think he meant he's absolute beginner in third position.
Third position is an excellent place to practice hand vibrato (what we used to call "wrist vibrato"), but being able to move between positions is the real challenge. (4th position is the cellist's equivalent of the violinist's 3rd position.)
I just found this. It is not what I was referring to in the op paragraph but it is pertinent to the discussion topic I think.
I really hope this does not devolve into a Suzuki pro/con discussion. I like the Suzuki repertoire and have the first two books for material. You have to admit that if someone in the violin world asks “what book are you on?” - the method is understood to be Suzuki, further clarification is not necessary. I’m ok with that.
Colourstrings method, which is takes its lead from kodaly, starts off in positions. The first step after open strings is 'magic notes or harmonics in different spots.
My teacher started me in 1st position and we didn't start in Suzuki - though we did eventually go there after he taught me to read music.
Starting in 3rd position makes no sense at all to me, never heard of it.
This issue has come up before on violinist.com. There's no real problem with starting off in third position, but the thing about "minority" methods like that (and I would guess fewer than 1% of all students start in 3rd position these days) is that you'll have more trouble finding people who have done that and can advise you within the context of your specific path. One nice thing about playing an open string once in a while is that it's really glaringly obvious if your hand position has drifted at all. Of course you can tell that from the resonances in third position too, but it's more subtle if you have not trained your ear (yet) to hear that.
Hi David. I see you went back and edited your first post above. You somehow felt the need to disparage my (to you) slow progress at learning the violin and brand me as a lazy student. Why did you do that? I see your bio states that you went to Portuguese Catholic University and hold a Master's degree in Music Teaching. You are a teacher. Is this the way you were taught to interact with learners at a Catholic school?
I've heard of people advocating starting in third position. I didn't learn that way, but I wonder if it has particular merit for certain students. I have small hands, so I am more comfortable in third position than first on both violin and viola.
James, I went back because I thought you were only talking about third position when saying "absolute beginner".
I’m wondering if it was a way to start off children on a full sized violin (or at least a too large fractional) in the days before small fractionals were easily available.
David, I meant I have never heard of anyone starting in third position, meaning a method that starts in third. That's all. Sometimes I find your posts slightly snarky but maybe there's a language barrier.
Mary Ellen, That's a good thought!
Ann, I got what you said, no method starting in the third position. And I added that it wouldn't make any sense imo... I doubt that it could for most people. But with all the things I've seen... I wouldn't be surprised if someone decided to start teaching on the fifth position, why not. These days people come up with theories to support almost anything.
James, Music is a great way to unwind from the terrible things that happen to us in life. I am struggling with a serious illness with a drug treatment that affects my vision, coordination, and memory. I get around this by having a teacher who is very relaxed and not treating me like Juilliard material. Thank God I'm retired.
‘I wonder what teachers have time for methods with two 45 min. lessons a week with and lazy students. That's probably the reason why you're playing for 5 years and still an "absolute beginner".”
James, yeah aimed at you or your teacher, the method part, not the lazy one. With the regular two 45 min. lessons a week, even not lazy students will have a hard time moving forward if going through method books for third position, I imagine also for other positions, vibrato, trills, bowings... How do they get any repertoire done? But again, I'm talking in general. I think it's a teacher's job to be able to teach those things through more comprehensive etudes and Concertos, pieces.
Christian. What an informative and on topic link! Thank you. I did a search before posting but I didn’t include blogs I guess so I didn’t find that. I encourage those interested in the topic to read it.
It may be a function of the repertoire, a natural tendency, or maybe just a reflection of historical performance practices, but 3rd position becomes a pretty natural alternative to 1st - Perhaps someone with a degree in topology could figure out that if you had just two positions to choose from, you'd get the most bang for your buck using 1st and 3rd.
I have started only one student at 3rd position, because her only violin was too large for her at the time. It would be mentally confusing. It would be inconvenient to use the open strings as part of a melody and as an intonation check.
This was actually a big deal when I was young (late 60s /early 70s) and many people found it an interesting idea. The argument was that third position was more comfortable for the hand and even small hands would not have to stretch overly for the beginning (I don't remember the thing about using larger instruments). This is undoubtedly true but the disadvantages are easy to spot and have already been mentioned in this thread.
James gave us the reference going back almost 50 years.
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