By Amy Kathleen Miller

This week I’m sharing something as a result of an experience I had recently, even just since my article last week on how practicing my violin playing paid off so well for me.

violin (Photo credit: firepile)

When it comes to music and playing that instrument, there is no shortcut to getting good except one thing:  it all comes down to the amount of time that you are willing to practice, the amount of time that you as a student are willing to devote to your instrument and the techniques put out there for you that the teacher has instructed for you to practice.  That is it, plain and simple.  If you don’t put a lot of time in on that specific technique — for me it is Suzuki method — then you don’t pass off the music very fast as a student of mine because it’s too obvious that you haven’t practiced enough. Period!

Over the last five years, I have been taking lessons from a very excellent violinist himself.  He has a masters’ degree from Juilliard in violin and a doctorate in voice.  He also is in the Utah Symphony as his main occupation.  I was so fortunate to find him.  He has helped me to become a better teacher.  Students have left him because he was too picky on how the music was played.  However, he helps students get scholarships into colleges, or to get into Juilliard, one of the top music schools in the world.

For example, there were students from Utah, The 5 Browns, who loved the piano.  All of them practiced the piano about five hours a day.  That’s right, five hours a day.  The first thing I wondered was how did they manage school?  The answer was that they were home schooled.  When the time came for the audition into Juilliard, they all passed.  Now they are famous for playing on the pianos together.  Again, they practiced.

As a music teacher, it is my job to teach the students in the best curriculum that is offered.  For me, I have found that to be Suzuki.  However, the books alone are missing things that the students need to learn, such as note reading from the beginning.  Suzuki has been known to teach it by ear in the beginning, then to later start teaching notes.  However, my instructor has informed me that he instructs students as young as three to read notes.  I have had an experience teaching a three-year-old violin, and they can learn to read music if done so gently and slowly.  Another thing that needs to be taught separately is scales and arpeggios, etudes, more technique.

There is so much that I can say here about music study, but for now I will deal with the parent, teacher, and student relationship.  This relationship is like a triangle, where all three have their own separate roles and they are all equally important responsibilities.  Let’s examine each role.

The student:  Must practice more or less time, depending on their level.  Need to practice regularly without distractions.  (Saying the dog ate my music or aliens came and took my violin away is not a good excuse.)  Need to tell their parents when events or concerts are coming up.  Should ask questions when something is not clearly understood.  And, for heaven’s sake, please be on time to your lesson.

The teacher:  Provide an individualized program for the advancement that includes many different styles of music.  Need to maintain professional music abilities by attending courses or seminars.  Schedule recitals or concerts so students strive for advancement in their musical skill.  Talk with the parents about anything that may arise, available to answer questions.  Create a positive environment.  (Oh, darn, I guess I can’t slap the student’s hands if they don’t play the piece correctly, or was that old school?)

The parent:  Has a huge responsibility in this.  Provide the place to practice, have no distractions around, provide good lighting,  set practice times, make sure other friends or family do not disrupt their child from practicing, make sure student practices all the assigned pieces.  There is a need for all music to be in a special place, so don’t allow siblings or friends to carry off or destroy music, and the list goes on.  Big responsibility for the parent.  Good thing I am the teacher … oh, wait, I am a parent too, of children who’ve played instruments, so I am not exempt from this list.

So there you have it, some information on the triangle effect.  I hope that helps all those who have children who practice instruments. Above all, like I said last week — PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!

Editor’s Note:  “Amy’s Angle” is a weekly Wednesday feature in this blog.

Copyright 2012, Daddysangbassdude Media


2 thoughts on “AMY’S ANGLE — Quit whinin’ and PRACTICE the violin!

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