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.
Jump to another part of this series:
Part 4: Books for Breaking Through Physical and Mental Barriers
BREAKING THROUGH PHYSICAL AND MENTAL BARRIERS
Progress is usually not linear and straightforward; it happens in fits and starts, as we discover solutions. Once solved, we rise to the next threshold, ready for even greater challenges, and from a loftier vantage point. Often, the hardest problems to overcome have to do with our bodies or minds. Focusing our attention on these areas, with clarity and discipline, can lead to incredible breakthroughs. These books address some of the most difficult challenges musicians can face in effective and creative ways.
As a teacher, you’ve seen it before – a student that was doing well and progressing nicely all of a sudden comes to a halt. Their technique is not the issue, and neither is positioning. They just can’t seem to break through from their intermediate level to advanced, despite your best efforts and theirs. This is a critical juncture, because frustration often leads to quitting. Dr. Melissa Knecht has dedicated years of research to this dilemma, as both an educator and violin and viola pedagogue. Her groundbreaking work has revealed that, at this stage, the problem is often that the student has not developed the internal storehouse of musical patterns. Borrowing from psychology and coding, Dr. Knecht has created a focused and effective program to build an aural and spatial sense of the fingerboard that will lead to a breakthrough to the next level.
There are “natural players”. The rest of us cope with all sorts of physical limitations. Most of these are entirely avoidable. Violinist and teacher Jennifer Johnson has addressed these problems in a comprehensive and thoughtful guide that is both text book and work book. Describing each problem down to the anatomical level, the book solves the problems in specific and focused ways, leading to success. Even beyond this, common notions that have been misunderstood are dispelled, leading to real solutions (did you know that there is no such things as a “shoulder”?) Like a language barrier, or a mental block, this guide helps players remove physical blocks, allowing their playing to break through.
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