William Fitzpatrick - violin expert

8 Tips or Ideas on Being a Violin Student

Ideas on how to get the most from your violin lessons

In this video, Prof. Fitzpatrick gives you height practical tips to put you on the fast track to improving your practice and reaching your goals.

Released on April 4, 2018

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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

Well, so many of these videos I've done from the perspective of a teacher. I thought maybe it might be an interesting idea to do one from the other side, have a little chat about being a student. So here are my ideas on what it takes to be a really good student.

First idea, from the beginning, make sure you thoroughly understand what is expected from you in your lessons. Let's say that your teacher assigned you a scale. Well, you need to know what he expects you to achieve from working on that scale. Does the teacher expect that you will work every day on the scale? To what depth does the teacher wish you take it? How far does your teacher wish that you'd go with that scale? You see, you really need to understand what is expected of you.

Second idea, be an active learner. Always seek to find the key concept being presented in the lesson. These concepts are the basis for all others that will be talked about in future lessons. For example, if you were studying an étude, you could work towards discovering what skill the étude is centered on or trying to uncover just why your teacher gave you the étude to work on in the first place.

Third idea, become a questioner in your lessons. Let's say that you are working on a Bach partita, and you don't understand the fingering...you know, you don't understand the fingering in a particular passage. Don't just shake your head as if you understand. Ask about it. You see, if you don't ask questions, you will probably not discover what you do or do not know.

Fourth idea, look for connections. The content or shall we say direction of a lesson is always built from a system of connected ideas. It's never random, so always relate new learning to previous learning. For example, if the passage you are working on were a slow passage, you could think about how you managed to produce the sound in a slow scale. Or if it were fast, you could relate it to your 12- and 24-note scale work. You could even remember the tactics you used when studying Kreutzer 23 and applying them to this work as... You can see they're similar.

Fifth idea, don't sit back passively waiting for knowledge to just fall into your head. It won't, nor it shouldn't. Your teacher is there to help you navigate through the vast amount of information there is to learn, help you to find your way, not necessarily to simply show you what to do. So, you see, lessons are a time in which you can use the concepts and principles you have already learned.

Sixth idea, why don't you try to figure out what learning skills you are not good at and work on them? Only you know what you are effective at doing. Only you know what you are efficient at doing. Your teacher can't be with you every day as you practice, so you need to be able to recognize what you do well so that this will allow you to better identify what you do not do as well. Recognizing, understanding, and working on this is a strength.

Seventh idea, can you summarize what your teacher said in your lesson in your own words? Doing this can be extremely useful in evaluating your understanding of what has been conveyed to you in your lesson. With this in mind, the idea of recording your lessons is a good one as it's easy to forget things that were said in the lessons. So a recording would be very useful in helping you to remember the things that were said in your lesson more clearly.

And the eighth and final idea, so, ask yourself, "Can I explain what my teacher has spoke about in my lesson to someone else, to another student?" If you can't, then you probably haven't understood or learned what was said well enough. You should probably bring it up again in your next lesson and get an even deeper understanding.

So let's recapitulate. Let me just be sure we understand these ideas.

One, understand what is expected from you in your lessons. Two, be an active learner. Three, become a questioner in your lessons. Four, look for connections. Five, don't sit back passively. Six, figure out what learning skills you need to work on. Seven, summarize your lessons in your own words. And eight, explain what your teacher spoke about in your lesson to another student.
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Elizabeth * VSM MEMBER * on April 18, 2018 @6:39 am PST
May I have permission to print this out for my students?
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on April 18, 2018 @10:06 am PST
Of course Elizabeth! All the material here is for your own enjoyment Smiley Face
William - host, on April 18, 2018 @10:08 am PST
Absolutely! Would love to know how they react! Thanks!
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