My teaching is strongly influenced by the “teaching priorities” Ed Kreitman puts forth in his book “Teaching from the Balance Point”. Focusing on this order of development and measuring progress by how each foundational element is maturing has proved to be a most effective approach. (The following is my own interpretation. Read the book for Mr. Kreitman’s complete explanations.)
- Posture: nothing else can happen well if posture isn’t functional. And in fact, poor posture can not only limit playing, but also cause injury!
- Tone: Managing the bow is difficult. It doesn’t matter how accurate your left hand is with notes if your bow isn’t able to produce the desired tone quality. Balanced posture is a prerequisite to being able to manage the bow.
- Intonation: You may have all the musically expressive ideas in the world, but if you play out of tune you will have difficulty communicating them to your hearers. Clear tone produced from the bow is a prerequisite to hearing whether notes are in tune, and balanced posture also contributes to being able to play in tune.
- Musicianship: I include the “logical” elements of note reading and understanding of musical symbols in this category, in addition to more “feeling”aspects such as dynamics, articulation, and tempo changes associated with “expressive” playing. The first three elements must be in place for the 4
to function well!
- Learning Notes and Bowings to New Pieces: typically this is where our minds go when we think about “progress”. However, this is a HUGE struggle if the previous elements aren’t in place! In my experience the long-term results have been much more sustainable and satisfying when we first focused on Posture, Tone, and Intonation, even if it means staying on the same “old” piece to develop these skills. Once we’ve developed the skills we need, then learning new pieces is a breeze!