Violin Pedagogy: How Did They Learn?

by Dr. Robin Kay Deverich

List of Traditional Violin Instructional Material
1751 Geminiani. The Art of Playing on the Violin. London.
1756 Mozart, Leopold. A Treatise on the Fundamental Principles of Violin Playing. Ausburg.
1756 Tartini.L'arte del arco. Paris.
1761 L'abbe le fils. Principes du violon. Paris.
1771 Tartini.Traite des agremens. Paris.
1782 Corrette. L'Art de se perfectionner dans le violon. Paris.
1791 Galeazzi. Elementi teorico-pratici. Rome.
1796 Kreutzer. 42 ├ętudes ou caprices.
1798 Cartier. L'Art du violon. Paris.
1798 Woldemar, Michel. Methode pourl e violon. Paris.
1800 Gavinies. Les vingt-quatre matinees. Paris.
1803 Baillot, Rode and Kreutzer. Methode de violon. Paris.
c1800s Fiorillo. Etudes de violon formant 36 caprices. Vienna.
c1815 Rode. 24 caprices enforme d'etudes. Berlin.
1820 Paganini. 24 capricci. Milan.
1824 Campagnoli. Nouvelle methode de la mecanique progressive du jeu de violon, op. 21. Leipzig.
1832 Spohr. Violinschule. Vienna.
1834 Baillot. L'Art du violon. Paris.
1844 Alard. Ecole du violon. Paris.
1850 Dont. Etudes for the violin.
1854 Wieniawski. L'ecole moderne, op. 10. Lepizig.
1855 Dancla. Methode elementaire.
1858 de Beriot. Methode de violon, op. 102. Paris.
1864 David. Violinschule. Leipzig.
1867 Kayser. 36 Studies for violin, op. 20.
1873 Courvoisier. The technics of violin playing.
1875 Schradieck. School of violin-technics.
1880 Mazas. 75 Etudes melodiques et progressives pour violon, op. 36. Brunswick.
1881 Sevcik. Schule der Violintechnik, op. 1. Prague.
1895 Sevcik. Schule der Bogentechnik, op. 2. Leipzig.
1902-5 Joachim and Moser. Violinschule. 3 vols. Berlin.
1916 Capet. La Technique superieure de l'archet. Paris.
1921 Auer. Violin Playing as I Teach It. New York.
1923-8 Flesch. Die Kunst des Violin-Spiels. Berlin.
1941 Dounis. New aids to Technical Development, op. 27. London.
1962 Galamian. Principles of Violin Playing and Teaching. Englewood Cliffs, NJ.
1963 Galamian and Neumann. Contemporary Violin Technique. New York.
1961 Havas, Kato. A New Approach to Violin Playing. London.
1964 Havas, Kato. The Twelve Lesson Course in a New approach to Violin Playing. London.

1969 Suzuki, Shinichi. Nurtured by Love. New York.
1970 Suzuki violin school. Princeton, New Jersey.
1971 Menuhin. Six Lessons with Yehudi Menuhin. London
1971 Rolland, Paul. Prelude to String Playing. New York.
1974 Rolland, Paul. The Teaching of Action in String Playing. New York.
1981 Havas, Kato and Jerome Landsman. Freedom to play: A string class teaching method. New York.
1986 Menuhin. The Compleat Violinist: Thoughts, Exercises, Reflections of an Itinerant Violinist. New York.

It should be noted that two string pedagogues listed above, Paul Rolland and Shinichi Suzuki, have also exerted an influence on many contemporary amateur string players. Rolland pioneered new concepts regarding freedom of motion in violin playing as demonstrated in The Teaching of Action in String Playing, a University of Illinois String Teaching Research Project. Rolland produced seventeen demonstration films that correlated with his method book Prelude to String Playing , and many string educators have utilized his theories in teaching strings.

Suzuki's methodology, also referred to as Talent Education, is centered around the "mother-tongue method," defined by Suzuki in the following terms:

Talent Education has realized that all children in the world show their splendid capacities by speaking and understanding their mother language, thus displaying the original power of the human mind. Is it not probably that this mother language method holds the key to human development? Talent Education has applied this method to the teaching of music: children, taken without previous aptitude or intelligence tests of any kind, have almost without exception made great progress.[32]

Key elements of Suzuki's Talent Education include:

  1. The philosophy that all children can be educated through the proper environment, and that environmental factors are more important in the musical growth of a child than so-called talent.
  2. Listening is emphasized, and students are encouraged to frequently listen to recordings of music they are learning.
  3. Parents are active participants in the student's learning process.
  4. Students begin lessons at an early age, sometimes as young as two.
  5. Students learn to play by rote.
  6. Each piece is memorized, even after reading music has commenced.
  7. Technique is learned through the repertoire found in Suzuki's music books.
  8. Teachers are encouraged to use physical activity games to free the body from tensions.
  9. Frequent performances are encouraged.
  10. Teachers emphasize proper posture, good sound production, and secure intonation.[33]

A 1996 article cited the following statistics regarding the number of Suzuki pupils in America: "More than 5,000 teachers belong to the SAA [Suzuki Association of the Americas] and use Suzuki's philosophy and methodology with more than 150,000 students."[34]