Recommendation for Violin Etudes (for a Suzuki student)?
I'm looking for some advice/input/sharing of experience regarding the use of etudes, esp for a Suzuki violin student.
My son just turned 12, he's somewhere between book 8-9 in preparation for Mozart. He plays pieces from the Suzuki book (not all), plus songs from Barbara Barber's book, Bach Partita, some concertos.
I asked his teacher about etudes and her answer was that in Suzuki violin, some of the abilities were taught within the song itself (e.g. double stops, shifting, etc.) so etudes are already "included" so to speak. However, I do wonder what if my son never played etudes systematically, especially if he hoped to advance his playing to a higher level, or just to even have a good basic foundation of his violin playing.
With that said, in the past, he has used Yost shifting, Sevcik Op 3, 8, some Mazas, Kreutzer, Schradiek, etc. but nothing systematic/consistent. His teacher picked and chose etudes to learn depending on the technique he needed at that time. E.g. Schradiek for left hand articulation, and Sevcik for bow, etc. Also, a friend gave me a list of etudes suggestion from Mimi Zweig pedagogy, but I'm not sure what to do with those (me not being a teacher, of course).
What are your thoughts/suggestions on this? I apologize if the answer is obvious, but I do not play the violin so I'm not sure where to start. Perhaps you'd be willing to share your experience about playing etudes and how it has given you/your child advantages/disadvantages. My son is up to trying things out by himself, too, so a daily dose of something short with definite goals like etudes would be a good practice habit for him.
Many thanks in advance for your input.
It sounds to me like your son's teacher basically has the right idea. When I was a child my teacher was a "one study per week" guy. So every week I would just get the next study in the book, whether it was Mazas or "Preparing for Kreutzer" or whatever. Sometimes if it was a harder study then I'd get two weeks. Then, regardless of how well it was learned, or whether I had mastered the techniques emphasized, the next study in the book would be assigned. If you feel that your son learns best in a more systematic program, and that it would be beneficial for the way he apportions his practice time, to have more consistency in the way he is assigned studies, you could bring that up with his teacher, I guess. What you should NOT do is just take your friend's list of etudes and lay that on top of what your son is doing with his teacher because that can be very counterproductive. Mimi Zweig is a great pedagogue, but she's never heard your son play.
The value of etudes/studies is not in playing all of them one by one from the beginning to the end of the book, but in working on the ones needed to develop the student's technique and musicianship.
We were in a very similar situation with my son. He was in Suzuki book 8 around age 9 I think and had never done any etudes beyond what was in the Suzuki books (tonalization, etc.), though his teacher did give him the Barbara Barber scale book and he did that.
What Susan lists is not even really "a lot" but is the standard diet for advanced and/or conservatory-bound students. I would also add:
I used the Suzuki books as the basis of my violin and cello teaching for 30 of the 40 years I taught. But I am not a Suzuki teacher.
@Claire - the advice above is good. The bottom line is that there is no one-size-fits-all set of etudes that necessarily will work for you child. All aspiring musicians have different needs depending on where they are in their studies and their strengths and weaknesses. Your child is lucky to have a good teacher who appears to be giving appropriate guidance concerning the etudes. I would not second-guess the teacher.
Scales in thirds is something that has improved many aspects of my playing in ways that I didn't predict. My teacher showed me a simple way to practice them and that was a big help. The jump to Flesch is a very big jump, it could be quite discouraging. Trott's "Melodious Double Stops" book is a great starting point. A lot of teachers use it.
You should play all of kreutzer and rode followed by dont. It is your teachers responsibility to give each of them to your child in an appropriate order.
Thank you all for taking the time and so generously shared your opinion and experience. Many of your comments resonated with our situation and there's a lot to think about and digest. My son's violin studio is taking a break now so it's also a good time for him to reflect and for me to take notes of what steps we want to talk to the teacher about etudes and vocation in general (as one of the above post mentioned, which is really a good point). I appreciate your comments, thank you once again!!
My etude list was similar to the other replies:
Actually Wohlfahrt is a good name. I am aware of the English association. But if you translate „wohl“ and „Fahrt“ it wood be „good journey“ which might be a nice blessing.
What a lovely explanation. Many thanks.
Let's remember that scales need a composite of techniques, and arpeggios and double-stops add yet more.
May I recommend Louis (Ludvig) Spohr's Method, not for the first few chapters, but when the real études start. I transpose the C major ones up into D major to begin with. They are short and very musical and in duet form.
Couldn't agree more Adrian. Another , somewhat neglected in my opinon, composer of great material is Dancla. However, at the end of the day we have to imposesome kind of limit. It might also be worth noting that there is at least one awesome violin teacher on this site who leans towards a more minimaloist approach. In order to achive maximum results in theminimu of time he has written a book called 'violin Technique: The manual' which really fosters independentthought about technique. I find this one really saves time with adult learners in particular.
It sounds like your son’s teacher has a good mix of using etudes when needed. As others have stated, it’s not always necessary to play through entire Etude books to develop technique.
Your son will go places. Good luck.
Buri, when you say "both" Dont books, which two do you mean? (My childhood teacher had me do op. 37, 38, and then 35. I can't remember whether I did 37 or 38 first.)
Prompted by Buri's reference to the Ray Chen video with ChatGPT, I went and asked it to get help with the fast descending chromatic passage, each step with an additional grace note, in the first violin part of Danse Macabre. That is a tricky passage! First he suggested Fiorillo 23 because it was specifically about chromatics. When I pointed out to it that that etude has nothing chromatic at all, it apologized politely, and suggested Kreutzer 2 instead. When I pointed out that that is kind of a cheap suggestion, it is a basic etude, right, but again nothing specific for the passage I mentioned, finally it came with the following suggestions: create your own etude, and get a teacher! :-)
It seems to like Fiorillo. That is truly macabre.
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