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  • #4009 Reply


    Just wondering when should a student ‘finished’ with a piece they are learning and playing, and move to the next piece?

    For awhile I went backward to Suzuki book 1 and 2, to work on my rhythm and techniques. My new teacher had me jump up to where I left off. But still feels like we are going through pieces so fast. So when should we move on?

    #4019 Reply

    Michael Sanchez

    This is a great question. Every teacher has a different approach when it comes to progression, and in my opinion, I think there has to be a balance. I’ve had teachers spend months and months on one piece with me in my learning career, which I think can be discouraging and not as efficient for a student’s progress. I’ve also had teachers go through a piece a week, even if the student doesn’t learn the piece very well. I think either of these approaches can cause problems with learning efficiency and ability to become a better player.

    My approach is that a student should learn a piece to 85% perfection before moving on. This means that if a student plays a piece and makes a few mistakes, I will mention them–but if it is only a few mistakes throughout the whole piece, I will suggest we move on to another piece. This normally results in an assignment of students working on 2/3 of their music for the upcoming week if they didn’t practice a lot, and 1/3 of their music if they did practice a lot. It is rare that I tell a student to work on the same exact music for the following week, as well as telling them to work on all new music for the following week. Keep in mind what I consider moving on–if I assign 16 measures of a piece (say that is half the piece), moving on would mean continuing to the very end of the piece.

    What I find is that by going to 85%, you are not dwelling on anything, but at the same time learning a piece well. In the future, the student will find the piece that was learned at 85% a lot easier, and be able to get it close to 100% just by becoming a better player. To become a better player it takes learning new combination of notes, and dwelling on one thing for a long period of time can make learning not as efficient (and discouraging) in my opinion.

    So in summary–find a balance! If your private teacher is leaning on one side or the other, I suggest pointing out to them that you are feeling there isn’t enough balance there. If you say it nicely, it shouldn’t offend the teacher, and just focus on how you would like to learn, and not that they are teaching you incorrectly.

    #4021 Reply


    I do tend to dwell on the difficult passage. My teacher told me not to be hung up on it, and move on, but I always try to play it to perfection.

    So I guess just play it 85% well.

    #4023 Reply


    this is a great question. i’ve had my teacher-i think jokingly- say to me “bring this back to me perfect!” i don’t know. i like to move on and learn new things. i have learned a lot since picking up the violin again w/this teacher in feb. but…i am the one that always suggests that he gives me something new. -he never objects to that though. the end result is that i have plenty to work on.-almost too much because he still wants to hear the old stuff really good, then we play all of the new stuff. great question.

    #4129 Reply

    Michael Sanchez

    It was a great question as I don’t think it is understood enough how much this varies from teacher to teacher. I’ve had 7 teachers in my career now, and each one had a different approach it seemed like when it comes to speed of progression through music. I had one teacher that I would be on the same piece it seemed like for months–by the time she was ready to move on to the next song, the music had so many fingerings and marks you could barely read the music. On the other hand, I’ve had some teachers that wanted to move on very quickly, not writing much in the music at all (suggestions/fingerings).

    I really think it is a balance that is hard to manage. I think having the student tell the teacher that they want it a certain way helps. Otherwise the teacher can interpret things you say and do for going too fast or too slow. Tell them you have an expectation and don’t be afraid to veto them if you feel they are one one extreme or the other.

    #4493 Reply

    William Bickerstaff

    I’ve never had a teacher. I am a victim (joking) of the public school instrumental program which gave no personal input.
    I have submitted a few videos here at VTP, two I recorded before I started taking lessons here (Ashokan Farewell and Summertime) and two I recorded in the last week after having started lessons here at VTP (Gavotte from Suzuki 1 and a few major scales).

    I practice daily (us retired/disabled folks have more time for it) and I think I am doing it intelligently. I start my day with some flexibility and stretching exercises on my hands, wrists, fingers and arms before I open the violin case. Then I will tune the fiddle (her name is Caroline) and do some scales and arpeggios. Later I will work from the Wohlfahrt Op. 45 book for a while. Finally, I work on some kind of repertoire, even if it is just something from the Suzuki books.

    I never practice more than 15 minutes at a time, taking breaks during the day with stretching, shaking and flexing my arms, hands and fingers between my practice sessions. I get at least 2 hours of practice per day, just not all at one time.

    I am serious (unlike when I was in school) about improving my violinmanship (did I just invent a new word). I have a bucket list of repertoire that I want to perfect as near as possible… including Paganini’s 24 Caprices, but I know I need feedback and constructive criticism on what I submit here in order to fulfill my bucket list. (I will never fulfill it…. there is just too much good music out there).

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