Too fast progress

said: Nov 3, 2006
 5 posts

Hello, my 9 year old son is learning the violin from a local teacher. He is currently working on Book 4 (Vivaldi Concerto in A minor, 1st movement). I am little bit concerned about too fast progress though.

He started violin a little more than 1.5 years ago when we lived in different part of the country. When he had lesson with previous teacher, it took him almost 1.5 years to almost finish book 3. We moved to current location about two months ago, and found a new teacher a little over a month ago. She is very old lady but quite gentle and enthusiastic. She has about 50 years of teaching experience (including public school and private lesson). Since my son started with her, my son has been finishing one Suzuki piece and one or two different pieces (she gives photocopies) each week. Although I know that she’s got plenty of experience and my son practices a lot (more than 1.5 hours a day), I am a little bit concerned as I was told that you have to master different skills in each piece.

We (including my son) were so curious if it is OK and my son asked his teacher in the lesson if she always teach everyone this fast. Her answer was “Only very few”. But, I am still concerned. Any advice? Do you think I can just sit back and enjoy his progress?

As my wife and I do not have experience with musical instruments, we are not sure if we should bring up this matter with the teacher and ask her to slow down.

Jennifer Visick said: Nov 4, 2006
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
997 posts

If your son practices 1:30 every day without fail, and he’s practicing well, and reviewing all his repertoire (so that earlier skills learned are kept “well-oiled”, and the older pieces are constantly polished), and if the teacher is experienced, and if he’s not LOSING skills he once seemed to have, and if his posture is good (if he’s not becoming extra tense from going too fast through the repertoire), and if he sounds good on his new pieces….. then you probably don’t have anything to worry about.

You may want to check on the teacher’s other students who are more advanced than him, and see what they look and sound like. They are probably a good indication of what he will learn from this teacher.

Mariam said: Nov 4, 2006
Mariam GregorianViolin
Ashburn, VA
34 posts

It is possible that this is an appropriate pace for your son, but I would suspect from your description that he is playing through a lot of repertoire without much detail. I agree that you should look at the teacher’s more advanced students…that will tell you a lot.

By detail, I am referring to consistant use of vibrato, ease in using the whole bow and a variety of bowstrokes, fluid shifting, use of dynanmics and phrasing, breathing, tone production, balanced posture, etc. Even the most gifted students should be spending a lot of time on these fundamental aspects of violin playing…one might make the argument that it is the quickest students that should spend the most time on them! If you find that your teacher does not emphasize details at all, you might consider finding a different teacher.

Good luck!

said: Nov 4, 2006
 5 posts

Thank you guys for valuable advice….

Fortunately, the first recital is coming soon (early December) in which I will have the chance to watch and listen to the play of the teacher’s other students.

As for his tonal quality, I cannot say for sure how good his tone is. It sounds very good to me but, as you might expect, it is not as good as the play of David Nadien… ;-) He seems to be pretty good at other details, but, as I mentioned, I have not learned violin before and cannot judge if he is good enough…. He is going to have a master class and workshop hosted by local Suzuki teachers’ association this coming weekend at which he will have a chance to work with a different teacher. I think I will know better after talking to the teacher at the master class.

Again, thanks a lot for your answers.

Community Youth Orchestra said: Nov 5, 2006
Community Youth OrchestraViolin, Viola
70 posts

There is no “default rate” at which students learn skills on the violin.

Some students have a strong aptitude for the instrument and are able to execute some of the required skills through only a little bit of observation and self-experimentation.

Others do not grasp concepts as quickly, and require more repetition, encouragement, and study.

Regardless, a good question to ask is: “Does the student play the work(s) well, demonstrating a thorough understanding of the skills required?” And we are looking at fairly objective terms here: intonation, rhythmic integrity, use of the bow, posture, etc…

said: Nov 12, 2006
 5 posts

Once again, thank you guys for valuable input. My son had workshop yesterday and master class today…

To our joy, he did great job and was praised a lot by teachers at workshop and master class. The teacher at the master class told us that there’s nothing to worry about in his fast progress…

Thanks again for the input… :D

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