The Art of Teaching Violin
Violin Teachers’ Blog
I like to think of myself as a disorganized person who is barely saved from disaster by my ability to use lists.
Yet, why is it that “beginner staccato” most often consists of legato with jerks on the bow changes?
As long as bowing patterns are tied to rhythm, the constraints of melody and meter tend to prevent students from fully experiencing the gesture.
The pencil stub went home with me. My friend was amused. Apparently non-violinists have a different relationship with pencils.
As teachers we may instinctively jump in and work on whatever we see is the biggest priority, but in doing so the student may end up getting a lesson that isn’t meaningful to them.
It was obvious the trainer had found a system of gears and knobs I’d never seen before. But there were no explanations. Why did these things work?
That’s one reason so many students resort to moving their wrist. Just to get something to move! Because when does the hand ever move without the thumb?
A simple hand oscillation is fairly natural. But when the thumb is immobilized, the hand immediately assumes it can’t move either.
When using the shaker egg, there are two fundamentally different ways to create an oscillation. Unsurprisingly, the less efficient way is more instinctive for a majority of students.
Learning vibrato on violin is not difficult when you isolate each tiny skill one at a time, then put them all together. Here are the basic components.
The language is a bit like walking around town with your eyes closed, or the way a sommelier talks about wine. Oak? Cured leather? Tobacco?
We often say things that actually prevent our students from experiencing this sense. What does this sound like? Totally innocuous. Like, “Keep your bow straight,” or “Try to get a cleaner sound,”
Communication involves the ability to build relationships and motivate students to the highest levels of achievement. This goes well beyond teaching violin, and requires the teacher to learn how to be a mentor and guide. The video shows how teachers can build trust...
I started experimenting with introducing various “more advanced” techniques during Book 1. The result: my students’ facility went through the roof.
Her fingers fumbled for the notes, and her bow arm was all elbow. By the end of practice she looked and sounded good, but when she picked up her violin the next day it was as though they were starting from scratch.
Being smart is great … until someone comes along who is better than you. Then you realize, “I don’t have what it takes.”
But what does it take, actually?
She could still extend and re-curve her pinky on a pencil. But she had lost her ability to flex her bow hand while actually playing.
Where was the disconnect? An unexpected discovery about knuckles.
I say that I teach violin. My real job is to keep students’ hearts open.