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Soft skills, hard skills, and finding the right teacher
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (4 votes) 

March 1, 2024 - 10:40 pm
Member Since: December 27, 2019
Forum Posts: 135
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So I started getting lessons again a couple months ago, and I think I really found the right teacher for me. I had a start playing violin a couple years ago, then a stop due to COVID then health and financial reasons, but recently I picked it up again.

I think I found the perfect teacher for me at this time.

Let's flashback to two months ago when I had my first lesson with him. He came in, we checked my tuning (Snuffles holds tuning very well) and I played a quick two octave G major scale and puled out my Suzuki 1 book. He immediately said hold on a minute, I am going to go out and pick up Suzuki 2 and 3. I asked him to hold on, I knew I was not where near there yet. I explained that I knew how to train my muscle memory, but I didn't necessarily own the techniques required for the remaining pieces in book 1.

And he listened. Not only did he listen, he has been pushing me on the techniques required to make each piece I am working on my own.

This is not to say that I have mastered each piece we have worked on, but we do move on to each new piece now after I have worked on each 'concept' for each piece. I think he gave me the best compliment I have ever had, where he said "I can immediately tell what you are going for"

The best part is he helps me explore and go for it from there. He helps me play the piece the way I feel it and hear it in my head, rather than "This is how it is supposed to be played"

I feel like I am being supported musically, and he is helping me go where I have somewhat of a direction in mind.

And this brings me to the first part of my topic: soft skills and hard skills

Violin is a tricky instrument, but I do not think it is all that much harder than piano or guitar in and of itself. I think it becomes a lot harder as a first instrument, if you are also trying to develop a sense of pitch and timing though. It makes me wonder, would an adult or later beginner, actually learn violin faster if they also learned something like piano at the same time?

While my technical skills are not where I would like them to be on guitar where fancy and shred leads come in to play, I have no trouble picking out songs and a close idea to the leads go (until it becomes really technical). That is due to years of learning songs by ear, so I already have a decent sense of pitch and timing. And even on keyboards which is a secondary instrument I can even if not perfect, get a similar inversion of chords for a song pretty quickly.

Having a sense of pitch and rhythm makes it so much easier. Add in the musicality of knowing the feeling of forte vs piano and legato vs potato makes a lot of difference. And I wonder, would an adult beginner make more progress by trying to learn something like piano at the same time speed up progress or not?

Just some curious thoughts there.

Well, at any rate, I am having a lot of fun, and currently not only working on Suzuki, he is helping me work on some pieces I have written, and should start to have some videos as well as critique videos come out soon. Though those are on slightly lower priority after doing all the cardio rehab I am working on as well. :D


March 2, 2024 - 1:40 am
Member Since: June 10, 2020
Forum Posts: 7807
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@Sasha -

So happy you found a great teacher to work with!

I think you are right about learning a little bit about music being helpful before starting violin.  Some basics about pitch, some scales & rhythm before tackling violin... just because there is so much to learn playing violin, a little familiarity will help. 

It's what I've been doing with my Grandkids, especially since they are home-schooled.  🤔... not so sure how much of really learning 'more' than one instrument at the same time (to start off) is helpful, but I've had my Grandkids just explore sound relationships & rhythm on quite a few.  

For folks with absolutely no musical training, I like the idea of learning a little at least on a couple octave keyboard, where the relationship of notes in a scale, arpeggios, chords can be heard & seen laid out in a linear fashion - without having to worry about if a pitch is correct or all the sensitive movements a bowing hand is responsible for... less stressful.  Also, taking time to start getting familiar with different rhythms & basic music notation would help. 

I have no idea if getting to the point of sight-reading music with both hands on piano (treble & bass clef) translates very well to what our hands do differently on violin.  Love to know your thoughts on this.


March 2, 2024 - 1:47 am
Member Since: February 10, 2019
Forum Posts: 3916
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congrats on your teacher and progress!

I learned some stuff on guitar first.  I had fiddled with piano on and off over time before that.  nothing major.  alfred adult learner type stuff and not near the devotion to practice like i did on guitar.. and no where close to the time ive put in on fiddle.  looking back im glad i picked up what i did on them prior to violin.  some of that stuff helped.


If one is a complete beginner at music, I think there are some music concepts that are easier to see on a piano.  I dont think it would hurt learning both, Im just not sure how much it would help.  And that depends on what a persons end goal is.. mine is trying to play music i like.

Before finishing that tbought .. I think trying to learn a guitar may hurt trying to learn at the same time.   Guitar can be painful in the beginning and what it does to finger tips probably would get in the way.  plus its just not laid out logically until you start seeing patterns and learn the fretboard layout.  Id say violin and guitar learning together not best pairing.. not saying one shouldnt..just dont think those two would compliment learning from scratch together.

But back to goals..I think it matters if someone is trying to play music or really trying to master an instrument.  If the main goal is to play music then it probably helps more to be looking at piano in parallel with any instrument..  If the goal is to become pro at violin it may slow that down simply because of the time taken away to practice the other instrument.  whether thats bad or not i guess depends on the person.

Im not a piano player btw.  I know how to make chords... and in real time can bang out some progressions..but a person who is devoting learning piano probably passed me after the firat month.  so take my opinons for what they are. 

I think in general learning an instrument and having access to a piano or keyboard helps with some of the theory stuff.   and with virtual instruments available with midi keyboards.. one has access to alot of avenues to piece together accomp with whatever theyre learning on violin.  it can make the whole process more interesting once the initial hurdles of learning basic scales and how to get a note to sound on violin.


March 7, 2024 - 7:57 am
Member Since: October 4, 2021
Forum Posts: 148
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Having a second instrument is very helpful for me. It gives me an alternative view of a piece of music, a complementary perspective. Sometimes when I’m learning or developing a new piece of music on fiddle, I hit a plateau where my progress seems to slow down or stop. The second instrument shows me a different version of that music, highlighting aspects that weren’t previously apparent to me. The different perspective feeds back to my fiddle playing, and gives me a sense of renewed progress.

My second instrument is the mandolin, which I have played much longer than fiddle.The two have obvious similarities and some significant differences. The mandolin's percussiveness emphasizes rhythm and timing, and its chordal nature helps me with double-stops, arpeggios, ornaments and fills.

The similarities between the two make for easy carry-over -- both ways. Mandolin helps my fiddle playing and fiddle helps my mandolin playing. 

A second instrument also allows me relief from the boredom and frustration that inevitably set in from time to time. I think boredom and frustration are major factors when people give up and quit. (They usually say that they quit because violin is too “difficult”, but I do believe that frustration is a proximate cause.) That ain’t gonna be me.

So when my fiddle playing starts to feel stale, I take a “vacation” and switch to mando for a while. That’s always refreshing, like a trip to the beach. 

I do not have a piano, though I’d like to have one around. I can see how its visual layout can help one understand relevant music theory. If I had access to a piano, I’m sure that I would have a much better grasp of (a) modes (b) construction and composition of chords. But, as interesting as that might be, I fear that that piano would siphon off some time -- and I don’t seem to have enough time now!

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