Tuesday, August 25, 2009


I've arrived safely at my 1.3 hours away destination despite storm warnings and really gusty winds. I drove the whole way here with my mobile phone nestled between my thighs, DARING someone to ring and say "Oh, so sorry, lecture's cancelled!" because OF COURSE no-one lives more than twenty minutes out of the city and that kind of notice would be fine for everyone... Gee, can you tell I feel a little bitter about my location?

So anyway, I'm here. My course book lists the essay as "A written paper on the detailed study and analysis of the development of technique through the Suzuki teaching repertoire."

Now, hopefully tonight will spend a little time addressing exactly what this means... Bow technique? Left hand- intonation, posture, shifting, vibrato? Musicality and performance skills? There are just so many possibilities and they all share common ground. Invariably when you begin work to develop one ability you will do so either to the detriment or gain of another.

Secondly, ought we approach this idea of development from a purely pedegogical or philosophical perspective?
Philosophically, we're reminded to teach busy busy stop stop (twinkle variation A) with Vivaldi A Minor or Bach D Minor in mind; twinkle theme thinking about the Mozart A Major Concerto.
Pedagogically, every piece in the Suzuki books is there for a reason; has a technical focus and and irrefutable teaching point which warrants inclusion. And yes, the order does matter, as pieces build in complexity and range. Vitali Chaconne is not post- book ten for nothing.
So, can I just make a really long list? Here are all the pieces. Here are the teaching points for each piece. In this, piece a, we recapitulate x and preview y, while focussing on z.
Technique q is developed in the following pieces from a simple level of ability (i.e. crossing a single string with a stopped bow) to a more complex level of ability (crossing several strings with stopped bow) to a very developed level of ability (crossing several strings mid-legato stroke).

This is not going to be a short essay.

Feel free to join in.


Bill Stankus said...

I've never played the violin so the details you mention are foreign to me but the process of learning is general enough to have meaning.

You mentioned on my blog you were unfamiliar with traditional Japanese woodworking. There are several key elements I've found to be very interesting, especially when compared to Western systems of learning-teaching a skilled endeavor.

The first lesson in the olden times was for potential apprentices to solve problems unrelated to the craft (perhaps in how to correctly serve a meal) and these problems were never explained to the apprentice as tests.

If they get through the intro problems, the learning process is sometimes referred to as "stealing the secrets" meaning, things are not explained - the apprentice must watch and figure out the complexities of the craft - if they don't they're gone. If they do figure out things then the master increases the complexity of what he is doing.

And, apprentices could not own tools beyond their level of expertise. Which meant they had to understand the nature of tools and sequentially buy things as they improved their skills.

Matthew said...

Now I'm feeling just a touch uneducated, so I'm going to sit here, giggle every so often and blink a lot. Deal?