How long does it usually take for a complete novice to go to mid-high level repertoire?
For music teachers out there:
What's the average amount of time, in your opinion, that it takes for a complete beginner (who might know how to read sheet music already) to go from learning how to hold a violin to playing mid to high level repertoire along the lines of Wieniawski 2/Vieuxtemps 4,5/Saint-Saens 3?
I know it probably seems like an oddly specific question, but I guess I'm trying to have a good idea of how long students playing these pieces have been studying violin.
If you're asking for a population-statistical average for children who start in a Suzuki program sometime during grammar school, 5 years is definitely on the low side from what I have seen. If you're asking what's *possible* for a bright, unusually mature, 6-year-old child who loves the violin and wants to spend every waking moment practicing but is not a blithering prodigy, and who has a great teacher and supportive parents, as well as peers with whom (s)he can compete, then 4-5 years is
The 8 year olds you see playing them have all been practicing for at least 12 years. Don't be fooled by their stature; they're all Buddhists, so they've had at least a couple of reincarnations to get it right.
The vast majority of students never reach there.
Note the difference between the assumptions I stated for an "average" student, and the conditions Paul stated for reaching that repertoire in 4-5 years. I think Paul made it sufficiently clear that such conditions are not the norm.
I deleted my responses due to half-heartedly responding to the prompt.
Similarly, I deleted some of mine because the posts they were addressing are no longer in the thread.
I deleted my wife with a cream cake last night.
It just maybe the 10,000 hour theory.
if you believe progress videos on youtube it takes about a year??
Those aren't "mid-high". Those pieces are solidly advanced -- i.e. students who are playing the traditional concert-hall repertoire played by professionals. Most students will never play those works. Of the ones who do, most will take 10+ years to reach that point.
I'm not sure about those pieces. I think it takes a while to play the Bach E major and Kreisler PnA at a high level (two highlights of the Baroque and pseudo Baroque repertoire).
I was going to say define "playing".
Only those with the right combination of natural abilities can develop the talent to get that far. It's like asking how many years does it take to play for an NBA team?
For an average person, at least 10 Years of regular lessons with qualified teachers and dedicated practice. For most, NEVER.
I would estimate 7--10 years of work, assuming all the factors are in place: talent, good teaching, consistent practice without long interruptions, parental financial support, starting young, and a little bit of luck. A good performance of those concertos puts you into the advanced/professional class, and only about half of those actually become professionals. 9 out of 10 beginners drop out early.
For most adults : never ! Sorry to say it but it is true.
And it is not just students. I would say many (most?) of those who hang out their shingles as "violin teachers" are not qualified to teach these concertos for the simple reason that they have not, at any point in their careers, played these works at an acceptable level.
I'd be happy if after 15yrs I could play Twinkle Little Stars virtuosically! I agree with those who said define play, and I'd add, starting at what age and what level of natural aptitudes. If one possess the aptitudes that a top soloist must have to succeed, it's one thing, but for the average player, quite another, then add to that the level of dedication and quality of practice/teaching received. I know for one that I will never, nor do I aspire to, achieve this level of playing no matter what efforts I put into it.
David, the fact that they have not played those concertos doesn't only mean that they're not qualified to teach them. It also means they're not qualified to teach substantially lower-level repertoire. To teach a subject of any sophistication you need to be (or have been, at some point in your life) well above the level that you're teaching.
You can find YouTube examples of videos that have passed the Suzuki "comprehensive" audition (Mozart 4 or 5), required to take teacher training for all 10 books. The playing level is somewhat instructive. For instance, here's a passing Mozart 4 from an individual whose SAA profile indicates he's taken training up through book 8:
Lydia, for the European Suzuki Association, that recording would definitely not lead to certification.
Of course, I don't think David is saying those teachers even claim to teach advanced students. Most of the teachers I've encountered do not teach beyond lower intermediate level. They're not obstructing anyone as long as they know their limits and can refer their students to someone else at a certain point. I assume David is just citing them as evidence of the rarity of students reaching the repertoire in OP's question.
Looking up the individual in the video Lydia linked to: this is also rather instructive on the quality of playing that can get a violin performance degree at some schools. It's certainly not what I expect to hear from someone with a MM in violin performance whose major teachers include an ICSOM orchestra's concertmaster... but at the same time I also realize that those lines on his resume don't necessarily mean what they imply at first glance.
European Suzuki training demands that teachers can
One of the fundamental principles of any "certification" process is that the organization certifying the individual receives payment.
Far worse than I expected, even with my knowledge of the state of guitar pedagogy in the USA.
Huh. I find the playing in the Mozart 4 audition link somewhat puzzling. It seems that simply practicing with a metronome would vastly improve this performance.
I would prefer to perform publicly than post a video!
Lydia - I wish I could unsee that one. I feel most sorry for the poor student who has been led to believe that he has completed a solid base in violin. Can you imagine if he now went to audition for a good community orchestra or, worse, to get into college based on this? Should be grounds to sue to get his tuition back.
Based on my own experience and that of other musicians I know, with Suzuki teacher training auditions, I am surprised that the video passed the audition. Unfortunately I think it can be variable based on who hears each audition video. (And also, to those criticizing his performance, it is possible that he had never played this concerto before and threw it together in a couple weeks for the audition, he may have played a polished Saint-Saens 3/Bruch, etc. after a semester or two of practice, this is clearly not his master’s degree recital).
The concern for Lydia's link above is, IMO, less so that the player cannot execute Mozart 4 at a high level.
I would also say that most teachers are not necessarily playing concertos at a high level too many years after school. Most freelancing just doesn’t require that level of playing, but you still have to do some practice to learn the notes. Add in a few hours of teaching a day, a family, etc.. and it’s just not realistic to constantly hold yourself to those standards. Unless you are a university professor who teaches students at that level constantly you aren’t likely to have more than a handful of students past maybe Suzuki book 6 at any given time.
I was a Suzuki student and I still concentrate on tone production. The famous "singing tone." A singing tone can cover many sins in my experience. I'll never be at a high level but I can at least not cause people to wince with my tone.
This has really digressed but I feel a need to point out it would be better to remove personally identifying references. I know that individual in passing from a Suzuki institute and have some knowledge of that school, having played in their affiliated orchestras both as a community member and a hired contractor. Those of you who are aware of my non-performing background might find that incongruent. Something that their music department is particularly known for is the multiple woodwinds program.
“ It is definitely important to know when to send students on (and I would argue that has as much to do with the student’s goals as their actual level) .”
David- I actually meant that as the opposite to how you interpreted it. At least for me, I have a point where I generally send my violin students on regardless of their goals. However, if a student decides before they reach that point that they want to get very serious about violin, I would consider sending them on earlier.
I would have blinded the identity of that video if I could have, but I think it's instructive to see the video rather than just hear the audio. It's a fully-public video posted under the gentleman's full name, and it's the first thing that comes up on a YouTube search for "Suzuki violin comprehensive audition". I also deliberately did not criticize it in my post; it's intended as a reference level, not as an indictment.
AndrewH made an important point - Google the man! This has nothing to do with Suzuki and everything to do with his claim that he has a masters in violin performance!
Gordon, I'm not exactly sure what point you are attributing to me.
My first reaction to the video was not to denigrate the player, it was surprise at the level of SAA accreditation, compared to the obstacle-race elaborated by the ESA, who want to avoid any notion of amateurism amongst our teachers.
P.S. @Lydia, I agree with anonymising it, and I suspect the best way might be to download the video, convert the mp4 to an mp3 (I used to have free conversion software, but it's been some years, and I don't know what it's called any more), then upload the mp3.
I don't doubt that he has a MM. I am not in any way accusing him of dishonesty. I have no interest in embarrassing the violinist; note that I do not mention him, his alma mater, or his teacher by name.
In support of the man and Suzuki and so on, lots of music can be prescribed both for ABRSM grade 8 and also for a performer's diploma, e.g. the Mozart oboe concerto (I also noticed some Villa Lobos in the guitar syllabus). The playing will be at two different levels, and many teachers can teach it at the grade 8 level. Presumably, that's the level at which Suzuki teaches this kind of thing, albeit exhaustively, whereas for grade 8 you'd only do a single movement of a concerto. But I guess Suzuki's exhaustiveness is intended to take you beyond grade 8 and some way towards a basic diploma.
Yes, I'm aware of that -- keep in mind that I do have a DipABRSM in piano performance. But the difference between Grade 8 and Diploma examination standards seems like a moot point here.
Not moot, because when I say "performer's diploma", I'm referring to the old name for FRAM and FRCM diplomas. (LRAM used to be known as a "teacher's diploma". I don't know what ARAM was called). My point was that a Suzuki teacher is probably more qualified to teach at grade 8 or ARAM level than at FRAM level. If I have the details wrong, I don't think that's the point.
The gentleman apparently posted a Tchaikovsky performance video on v.com in the past; the commentary he received focused heavily on his unstable intonation. That suggests that these are probably persistent technical challenges for him, but it also suggests that one can get to a certain level without having truly mastered fundamental technique. As we keep telling students on v.com, the measure of skill is not so much
Thanks, all, for the increased discretion.