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Order of notes in teaching violin

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#1 BadStrad

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Posted 17 August 2016 - 20:17

I've started this so as to not take over another thread which stated that most violin teachers use the approach of all open strings then all strings with first finger, all with second finger etc.

I was taught D major (same pattern on D and A string) as my first notes. Then A major (same pattern) and so on, building up scales and tone/finger patterns. So based on that I guess I'd assumed 0 1 2 3 (4) was how everyone was taught. I know, assuming makes a donkey type creature (not allowed by the site's swear-bot) of U and ME. ;)


So, as it's new to me, I was wondering what is the benefit of the all open, all one. . . approach? I assume it is something to do with consolidating finger positions before adding the next finger, or maybe to develop hearing fifths for tuning, but would be fascinated to get some insight. I think my lessons have been "unusual" being a mix of bluegrass improvisation and the AB syllabus approaches, so wonder if my teacher's approach relates to that.

I've only had one violin teacher who from the get go wanted me to learn tunes that we could use for improvising, so maybe that's why he chose that approach and it *isn't* the norm, but based on my early lessons the comment on the other thread really piqued my interest, because I couldn't work out how you would find tunes to play with only fifths, then fifths and seconds and so on.

Edit - So I guess my question to violin teachers is which approach do you use and why? Is it favouring tuning intervals, or tunes, repeating how you were taught, or something I haven't thought of. What guides your approach? I think this could be a really useful and/or interesting vein of exploration.
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#2 RoseRodent

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Posted 18 August 2016 - 18:19

Sadly, it's often exam driven. If people know from the start they want exams, you gotta progress the exam way. I like the Sassmanhaus approach, for example, which takes once finger pattern into all positions to learn key changes from the outset. I teach some special school and dyslexic learners in C major to match simplified notation or to form a band with keyboard beginners. It works fine and I use descant recorder tutor books.

In terms of all open then all firsts, etc. that doesn't matter if the first exam will be the prep test, as you're all fingers on anyway. Music medals at copper level are all opens and all firsts. I tend to teach without a book initially then assess the difficulty or ease with which each student hears, places fingers, changes string, etc. then direct them to either Violin Star (0000,1111,2222,3333) or Eta Cohen (0123, 0123 restricted strings).
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#3 BadStrad

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Posted 18 August 2016 - 21:17

Thanks for the reply, Rose. I have heard of the Sassmanhaus approach but don't know it. Must get around to looking that up properly.

How do you start C major? I would guess on the G string. I can see where you are coming from in terms of it opening up playing options, but personally it's my least favourite key. I would if I had started there it would be different.

Thank you again. I love hearing about all the different ways one instrument can be approached.
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#4 BadStrad

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Posted 18 August 2016 - 21:22

Sorry, another question. Do you find that the Violin Star approach develops the string tuning ear faster (as the notes are initially fifths apart)?
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#5 BabyGrand

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Posted 19 August 2016 - 12:09

Just a quick repsonse as I'm in a hurry, but I personally teach all open, all first etc, primarily in order to security of technique and intonation before adding another finger.  I don't use stickers, and I think to introduce all three fingers at once you would have to.  In the end, though, it's just two different routes to the same destination!   :)   

 

Most beginner books start with open strings, then some go on to 123(4) on one string, others to all 1s.  I've not seen a book that starts 0123 on one string without even playing the other (open) strings at all, though there may well be one!  

 

Copper medal is possible either way - there are a mixture of 01, 0123 and OS pieces on the solo list, a few ensemble pieces all on one / two strings (and possibly some OS ones, but I can't remember), and every options test can be just OS.  From Bronze / PT / Initial you need all 3/4 fingers.  


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#6 RoseRodent

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Posted 19 August 2016 - 13:30

Copper medal is possible either way - there are a mixture of 01, 0123 and OS pieces on the solo list, a few ensemble pieces all on one / two strings (and possibly some OS ones, but I can't remember), and every options test can be just OS.  From Bronze / PT / Initial you need all 3/4 fingers.

 
That's interesting to note. Since I have enough ensemble material already, I haven't looked at all the possibilities. All the pieces in the dedicated ensemble book are 0000,1111 so I presumed everything on the list was that way. I might have a look through the rest of my material and see if I can find some 0123s
 

How do you start C major? I would guess on the G string


Actually I start with the D string and/or A string, moving to D and A together because you have two sets of 0-12-3.  At this point you have to be very selective about material and write a lot of your own, and it's very minor key, with a few modal folk tunes. Most of the students who come via this route are playing band compositions and specially written music anyway, and often from special notation so I'm having to print it all out anyway - it doesn't matter that it isn't nicely sealed in a tutor book. They'll play these tunes by ear on all the strings to practise using the whole instrument with the bow, and play the Dorian scale and the D minor arpeggio. Once they have begun to be capable of picking up and dropping 3 fingers at a string change, you can add on the C on the G string and make your first major scale octave.Then you work from descant recorder tutor books in C major, until they introduce F#, whcih gives you 0-1-23 and allows you to use the G string with standard violin music in C major and to start violin books in D and A. From there you are on to learning all the complexities of shapes, just in a different order. 


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#7 RoseRodent

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Posted 19 August 2016 - 13:38

Sorry, another question. Do you find that the Violin Star approach develops the string tuning ear faster (as the notes are initially fifths apart)?

 

I find that if students are going to find pitching by ear hard, it almost doesn't matter which way around you start. If they struggle to hear a proper tone, they struggle with the gap from 0 to 1 as much as the gap from 1 to 2. At least with 0000,1111,2222 they only have to do whole tones for many weeks, whereas starting with 0123 means hearing both a tone and a semitone from early on. 


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#8 BadStrad

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Posted 19 August 2016 - 13:55

Thanks, Rose.  I'll have a play around with that later.

 

Babygrand.  Yes, of course.  All open strings, then 0 1 23 on D and A strings was what I was trying to say.  I'd forgotten to put in the open strings bit.  It was sooooo long ago.  :)

 

A couple of quick thoughts as my laptop battery is running out of juice.

 

So I'm thinking that the 0000 1111 etc approach helps to develop the string tuning interval from the get go as the focus is on each string sound and the interval between them, but this might limit the availability of tunes for a while.  Using this approach could develop a more relaxed left hand as only one finger is added at a time, but means that scale patterns are delayed.

 

The 0123 approach develops being able to hear the tone/semitone difference in intervals and thus scale patterns.  This might mean that less time is spent developing hearing the fifths between the strings (so string tuning doesn't develop as quickly as with the other approach), but makes tunes available more quickly.


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#9 BabyGrand

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Posted 19 August 2016 - 15:48

 

Copper medal is possible either way - there are a mixture of 01, 0123 and OS pieces on the solo list, a few ensemble pieces all on one / two strings (and possibly some OS ones, but I can't remember), and every options test can be just OS.  From Bronze / PT / Initial you need all 3/4 fingers.

 
That's interesting to note. Since I have enough ensemble material already, I haven't looked at all the possibilities. All the pieces in the dedicated ensemble book are 0000,1111 so I presumed everything on the list was that way. I might have a look through the rest of my material and see if I can find some 0123s 

 

I'm sure there's a piece in the ensemble book that's 0123 on the D string - I can't remember the name but I think it's something to do with having a fight / argument?  There are also two or three that are 01, but the only finger notes are B and E, so if someone had learned 0123 on D and A and knew their open strings, they should be able to play them.  The 3/4 watery one (!) springs to mind (no pun intended!  :lol: ), which I think uses just D, E A, B, and the Song of the Weavers, which is an ostinato of (open) E E A B E E E, repeated all the way through.  Sorry, I'm terrible at remembering titles!!  

 

The 0123 approach develops being able to hear the tone/semitone difference in intervals and thus scale patterns.  This might mean that less time is spent developing hearing the fifths between the strings (so string tuning doesn't develop as quickly as with the other approach), but makes tunes available more quickly.


I don't find not being able to play tunes they know straight away to be an issue, especially with children (who often don't know the 'well-known' tunes anyway!  There are some really well-written pieces that make even playing open strings sound a feel like you're playing a proper piece.  Hey Presto I think is best at it (have a listen to samples here: http://www.heypresto....php?catno=HEY1 - they are all 01 pieces but the OS ones are also great.), but others do a good job too.  I prefer ones like HP where it still feels like the violin is playing the melody with piano/CD accompaniment, rather than e.g. Violin Star, where the violin part is more like an accompaniment to the song played on the CD.  There is one called Daydream which is made up of nearly all open As and one open D, but it sounds beautiful, feels like a 'proper' piece to play, and it's always a favourite with both kids and adults (and me!).  It really encourages them to make a good sound with their bow.  

 

Anyway, I find both children and adults feel like they are playing proper tunes, even though they are only using OS / 01, so they have no sense of missing out - it's like when children start on black keys on a piano; we know in both cases what it is that they can't play using only the notes they know, but all they are focused on is what they can play!   :)  I do also find there is a real sense of achievement as they learn a new finger, and suddenly more music is available to them.  I'm sure that still happens as you add new strings with 0123.  But my point is, I think students don't consider themselves not to be playing 'tunes' just because they're only playing with one finger.  


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#10 BadStrad

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Posted 19 August 2016 - 16:14

Thank you.  I'll have a listen to those samples.

 

It's a good point about kids not knowing the "well known" tunes.  Both school recorder lessons and then violin lessons have been based on them from the start, which I guess is why I found it strange to think of learning using the 0000 1111. . . approach, but thanks to the replies here it's making much more sense.

 

Part of the reason I'm finding this so interesting (mulling over the different approaches) is that I've been unable to play for almost a year, and I'm feeling like a beginner.  I've been been musing on how to get back into playing again.  So far I've just been noodling about, as I don't want to get any tension.

 

I don't expect I'm ever going to be a violin teacher, but maybe someone trying to decide which approach to use would find this thread useful. 


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#11 BabyGrand

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Posted 19 August 2016 - 16:47

Just to say, I think the duets samples actually have one part playing 0123, because they teach 0123 on a couple of pages in the middle of the book, but by finger number not reading music.  I just skip over those pages and ignore them!  I'm sure they used to have more samples, including Daydream, but apparently not any more!  

 

Fwiw, I'm not sure exactly what level you're at, but if you just want something to play, to work your way back in, I would recommend the HP books to anyone. :)  The pieces are very satisfying to play, not childish, encourage good technique/sound/performance, and the books progress in a really sensible way.  Book 1 beginner, book 2 G 1-2, book 3 G 2-4 and Book 4 G 4 -7, so you could pick the appropriate one.  


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#12 RoseRodent

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Posted 22 August 2016 - 18:19

So I'm thinking that the 0000 1111 etc approach[...] could develop a more relaxed left hand as only one finger is added at a time, 

 

But watch out instead for it developing a scrunched up left hand, where only one finger is unfurled and the others are tight to the palm or flying high in the air. They still have to have the other fingers in a good position from the start otherwise they have to un-learn the way they have been using the left hand for the first finger. When they're not using 23&4 at all, it's a real challenge to remember to keep a nice hand shape. I notice that my little one who started 0000,1111 has realy trouble extending her hand, the 2nd finger is very often too low and as soon as it comes off the string she pulls it hard up to the palm. Not sure if she'd have done this anyway, as I have a D123, A123 student who sticks her fingers directly up when she takes them off, but she does tend to keep them in a shape more. 


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#13 lingle

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Posted 28 August 2016 - 16:43

Gosh what a interesting question!

 

I have also been unable to play seriously for a year so send my sympathies to BadStrad.

 

Given that there are schools of thought that the dropping minor third is the most natural interval to ear-train on, is there a school of thought that you should start with 3-1?

 

Or in reality is the bowing of our instrument hard enough that we should concentrate on that!


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#14 BadStrad

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Posted 28 August 2016 - 17:07

Quote - "Given that there are schools of thought that the dropping minor third is the most natural interval to ear-train on, is there a school of thought that you should start with 3-1?"

 

Hmm. I haven't come across that in my reading, but one idea I've come across is starting in third position, and then moving back to first position, so that the action of the left hand is learned in a more relaxed (closer to the body) position and then opened up (by which time the fingers might be more flexible).


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#15 BadStrad

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Posted 28 August 2016 - 17:10

 

But watch out instead for it developing a scrunched up left hand, where only one finger is unfurled and the others are tight to the palm or flying high in the air.

 

Good point.  I had the opposite problem.  Having started with D major, I found the close 2-3 (for C natural on the A string) was sharp.  I have large hands and after the nice open feeling of B - C#, B - C natural felt quite squashed.


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