It's a scenario every beginner or intermediate string player finds themselves in at some point: either a string broke, the metal winding is unraveling, or they've simply decided better strings will make them finally sound like Anne-Sophie Mutter. I can tune my strings by now; I'm sure changing my strings is simple enough! With headstrong independence they place an order for the set they heard are really great and wait patiently for their new strings to arrive. In a few days, they tear open the package, sit down with their instrument and get started...
“. . . a master violin is an accumulation of many small steps, each carried out with painstaking care”
~ Rainer W. Leonhardt, Master Violin Maker, Mittenwald, Germany
The origins of the violin were likely rooted in India or the Far East. In fact, musical instruments that are played with a bow appear in centuries-old paintings and pottery from many different civilizations. But there is no doubt that the violin we recognize today originated in mid-1500 Cremona, Italy, more specifically from the hand of Andrea Amati. Andrea’s grandson, Nicola Amati, enlarged the pattern and refined the violin, passing his knowledge to Stradivari and Guarneri. In short order, other famous makers emerged in Cremona, Carlo Bergonzi being the most prominent. Cremona had quickly become famous throughout Europe and elsewhere. Indeed, this Golden Age of violin making produced the greatest violins the world has ever known.
Violinist Teagan Faran’s unique vision combines great music, virtuosic performance, artistic collaboration and community involvement. Red Shoe Company is the product of this vision. SHAR is proud to support this incredible ensemble of talented and dedicated musicians, in concert on Sunday, November 19. Don’t miss it! Read more about Teagan Faran’s Mission of Happiness, in her own words...
Learning to play an instrument is about hand positioning, technique, practice, and hard work. This careful training leads to muscle memory and tonal recognition. Mastery in playing an instrument requires additional skills well beyond even these. Dr. Melissa Gerber Knecht, our guest blogger, is Professor of Music at Hillsdale College. Dr. Gerber has studied the development of pattern recognition in the human brain and the critical role this plays in achieving mastery of the instrument. Her recent book, Developing Your Musical Mental Map, is based on this research, and provides a useful guide for teachers and students seeking to achieve breakthrough improvement.
It’s time for a new school year, an opportunity for a fresh start in your studio. A new crop of students is arriving, and many of your students are returning. And each student is different, with different strengths and weaknesses, different commitment levels, and different motivations. You’ve got lots of students to teach, and they need to cover a lot of ground quickly. Fortunately, you have your method books, your supplements, and especially your own experience and good sense, and that has always served you well. For most of your students.
In this final part of the breakthrough blog series, Val Jaskiewicz offers a reminder to teachers that a student is responsible for their instrument and that learning good habits early on will prevent them from hitting barriers later on. Caring for an instrument, after all, is an important aspect of being a string player, and one that at times requires encouragement from the teacher.
In the previous parts of this blog series, we looked at some books and methods created by string teachers, who have years of experience in helping violin, viola, cello, and bass students in overcoming difficult obstacles that would otherwise prevent them from moving on in technique and musicality. When it comes to methods and etude books, there can sometimes be gaps in content or direction that make it difficult for students to really master a foundational technique, habit, or concept. Writer, violinist, and product expert, Val Jaskiewicz, recommends some books that can add focus to any method your student is using!
In the previous part of this blog series on teacher-made solutions to common string student obstacles, there were four books featured that are very useful for helping students feel motivated to practice well. In this part, two different kinds of books are presented which can help students who feel overwhelmed by a mental or physical barrier to their playing.
As was mentioned in the first two parts of this series (featuring accessories for common left and right-hand problems), each student is different with different strengths and weaknesses, different commitment levels, and different motivations. For those students that need some special attention or have some challenges to overcome, where do you find the time to investigate the solution, find the right book or product, and apply it to their unique issue? At SHAR, we’ve discovered the answers from an obvious source: From other teachers! After all, teachers know best, and because they are teachers they love sharing what they know! Teachers know that most habits are learned during practice, not at the lesson, so motivating a student to practice the right way is as much a challenge as having them "get it" at the lesson. These books by other teachers can help your student make a breakthrough!