William Fitzpatrick - violin expert

The Violinist as a Complex Adaptive System

How this concept can help a violinist put together all aspects of violin playing

In this video, Prof. Fitzpatrick introduces the concept of a "complex adaptive system" to help with violin practice. What is all that about?

Released on March 4, 2020

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

All right, so I remember watching a sci-fi movie and being reminded again about how everything is connected. I was reminded of the concept that if a thousand butterflies flap their wings in New Mexico, this could cause a hurricane in China called the butterfly effect. This is a phenomenon wherein small changes in the initial conditions can lead to drastic changes and the result in the outcome.

This concept has been around for a while now, but somehow hearing it again provoked the thought in my mind. That thought being that just suppose a violinist was connected in the same way? That what I do on this side, affects what I do on the other side, that the result being that one side is connected to the initiation of the other side.

So of course I did my little research and came up with the fact that this concept is called a complex adaptive system. Okay. So I took this idea and I made a graph calling it the violinist as a complex adaptive system, or VCAS.

The first thing that you'll notice that there are circles within the circle. What this means to me is that everything within that circle is connected. Everything within that circle is a part of the system, and so it's connected.

So what do we have? Well, there is form or mechanical skills connected to scales, connected to etudes, connected to repertoire practicing, connected to performance practicing. And so VCAS was born.

So what is all of this worth? I mean what can we really do with it to help our violin playing? Well, from my point of view, you use this information to help organize how you practice. It helps me to understand how to create paths through my practicing that lead me to my goals.

As a teacher, this understanding has been incredibly helpful in knowing how to create paths for my students based on what they see as their goals. So you see all of this is not just theoretical, it is in fact remarkably practical.

Oh yeah, just a side note. I was so pleased to have discovered this and applied it to the study of a violin, but as I grew older, I had understand the truth in saying, "There is nothing new under the sun," as here is Mr. Lee's chart, which came way, way, way before mine.
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Dennis * VSM MEMBER * on March 4, 2020 @8:46 am PST
Thank you for this insight. Is there a way to get a PDF of both charts? Your insight helps me to understand what I, as an older learner, am going through.’

Dennis Baird (dgb147@hotmail.com)
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