The psychology of learning the violin
In the 70s as a teenager, all I had was a borrowed plastic oboe. Apart from meeting a competent reedmaker who was prepared to sell his reeds and then learning to make my own reeds, there were no variables I could change other than me. I played that oboe in the British premier of Prokofiev's Duenna under Howard Williams of the English National Opera.
But violins have a thousand variables you can change in combination, so you can always be expressing your self-dissatisfaction in ways other than by practising. The more money you've got, the bigger your problems.
I wonder if anyone has written a book on the psychology of it.
It's also a thing about online forums. If you go to a photography forum you find people obsessing about their equipment. If you go to a running forum you find lengthy threads about different kinds of shoes and sport watches and things. If you come to a violin forum you find people talking more about rosin (which makes a trivial difference) than effective practicing (which is vital for everything).
There are many threads here on how to practice, and many web sites and U-Toob videos also. Posts are often long and very personal, and on videos we talk much too much. (I am trying to prepare videos where I don't say a word..my students will have quite a shock!)
Yeah, I hate videos. 9 minutes of talk and 1 minute of demo is the average.
Ha...I thought it was just me ! I have also given up on violin instruction videos. First the ads, then 5 minutes of talking followed by a 10 second demo.
I'm glad Aaron Rosand said that he puts his third finger on the Parisian Eye for his bow hold (and explained what he did with his other fingers). I could have watched that video ten times and missed that detail even though it's glaringly obvious after having it pointed out. I *did* notice that his pinky fingernail was weirdly long, but I was ready to dismiss that (I envisioned various purposes, some nefarious) -- until he explained why -- because it helps anchor his pinky on the bow stick.
There must be a constellation of factors that is particular to violin that encourages people to fuss about all kinds of external factors in a way that isn't AS pronounced with other instruments (I think guitarists can be similar kinds of weirdoes).
I enjoyed reading Paul Deck's comment above. I totally agree with him. Aaron Rosand was one of my teachers, though I never took a formal private lesson from him. He performed in Miami every year and I would always be in the front row carefully observing his violin technique and musical phrasing. I also attended his masterclasses at the University of Miami and would take every opportunity to chat with him. He personally weaned my off my shoulder rest! As Yogi Berra once said, "You can observe a lot by just watching." So true!
Well, violins are expensive, but
I get the tendency to focus on gear, which is its own kind of hobby, but it's also a total sidetrack that should not be confused with playing better. If people like to geek out and buy stuff for its own sake, then its a fine hobby, like stamp collecting. I just have a sense that a lot of people, when faced with the reality of the difficult learning curve (and if you have bad teaching where it isn't clear that practice -> improvement), it is natural to confuse the hobby aspect of collecting gear with the magical thinking delusion that collecting gear is the secret to better playing. That delusion takes the natural point of frustration in something not going how a person wants as a jumping-off point to go find the magic bullet, and takes people away from working on their practice quality and quantity, which I think is unfortunate.
That depends on your instrument, Lydia. If you have a 1000 dollar violin one set of Eudoxas will set you back nearly 10% of the price of the instrument.
Albrecht, that's true (I have long been an advocate that if you have an inexpensive violin that feels inadequate, you should take the money you were going to spend on expensive strings and save it towards an upgrade instead), but the
I had the opposite mindset from Christian, even though I was a self-taught late starter. Perhaps this is because I was self-teaching not out of delusion about how easy it would be, but because of rejection by teachers who insisted it was impossible. I was entirely focused on technique, to the point that I didn't upgrade things I probably should have upgraded.
The violin's technical demands are far greater than people expect when they set out. Greater than most other instruments. Beginners can imagine the strings or the bow or the rosin or the violin are the problem.
Gordon, Hill light is one of my 3 rosins that I have. It's my general purpose violin rosin.