"All you can eat" pedagogy
Noa Kagayama sent me an e-mail with an essay (I subscribed a while ago, never took any courses but am still getting his e-mails--he clearly still hopes I will eventually succumb). Title: "Evidence That Too Much Repetition and Consistency in Practice Could Potentially Hinder the Learning Process (WHAT?!)"
Here is the link:
I see a few possible interpretations. I think that this is pointing out that for a student engaged in self-directed learning, they can often naturally focus on the stimuli that will allow them to make their own subtle adjustments, and that putting too much insistence on them paying attention to other things can cause them to ignore the stimuli that should predominate (the sound they want and things feeling relaxed). Another way of understanding this is that we get used to something, and in order to keep learning, we need to add complexity - This could be adding in the left hand once we've done work on open strings, or changing the bowing that we are learning the fingering for a passage, or ticking the metronome up, or learning a passage in rhythms.
@Buri, Mark O'Connor would probably argue that encouraging young students to experiment and find their own way should extend not only to aspects of technique but also the actual notes that one plays.
Here is where I see limits: When learning the instrument one sort of piles skills on top of skills. E.g one begins with the bow hold. There are probably many ways to hold the bow if all you need to do is straight up and down bowing. Then you are to add other skills like spiccato, martellato etc. At this point it is important to hold the bow in a way that allows for all those skills to be practiced. In other words it is advisable to guide a student in the early development of the bow hold so it works for future requirements. Similarly for the left hand.
Agreed. That would be where the model is relevant/necesssary.
Practice itself is somewhat of a double edged sword. Practicing good habits leads to progress while practicing bad habits can lead to regression.
Thanks, Buri: "Bohdan Warchal, Jr., graduated from Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, Czech Republic" (from the Warchal website. However, I question whether, at the time of his graduation, the Czech Republic was yet in existence). The Warchal family is, however, like Tomas and Jan Masaryk (after whom my old school debating society is named), Slovak.
We discussed this method of bowing, which I do, 45 years ago when I was an undergraduate. It is not really revolutionary, or really different from what many do.
I don't think that what Kageyama is talking about in reference to that article is "try a different technique". It's really more about changing up the practice environment. It's more akin to the kind of "games" that Suzuki kids play in order to reduce the tedium of repetition: do this while sitting on a ball! do this while standing on one foot! do this with your eyes closed! etc.
As far as I can tell - understanding what the thread and the OP are about requires some understanding/assumption of pedagogical context - I agree with Kristian and Buri.
I don't know if a there is a violin school that says repetition is practice. There are such schools in other fields. I learned English that way--and I believe it worked better than the French approach (where they make you memorize tons of rules and the exceptions to the rules and the exceptions to the exceptions, 5 pages or so for subjunctive alone!).
I think there is a difference between learning a technique "wrong", so that it needs to be totally reworked later when there is a harder application of the technique, and learning a technique basically correctly, and then building robustness into the technique which allows small bits of variation and mistakes, so that the technique can be applied well to variations in use.
There's certainly a difference between languages and musical instruments.
With youngsters I asked for 3 repetitions of a note or a tricky measure, choose the best, and try it 3 times etc. Nine goes in all plus one for luck..
Adaptive bowholds for beginners seem to be based on the theory that young hands might have inadequate finger strength, which is certainly true for the vast majority of kids that start in the pre-elementary school years.
Indeed we give very small children big fat felt tips to draw with.
My teacher teaches the final bowhold off the bat, and her students are excellent, but it's possible that very young students drop out and only the ones that the system works for keep going. Maybe talented embryos need other teachers.