Obviously looking back at my fifty years of active teaching it is not surprising to note some variation in the priorities and methodologies I have employed throughout my teaching career. What I do find amazingly noteworthy, however, is how many of the issues I had initially emphasized and prioritized with my earliest students have remained the same throughout all of these years.
In fact…most of the changes that did take place are far more frequently found within my methods of presentation rather than the prioritization of the issues at hand. Thinking back this actually makes a great deal of sense since I have always been driven by a personal challenge to create the simplest, most efficient and most effective means of teaching ANY subject of which I had been tasked to convey.
Whether it was teaching business, finance, law, real estate, flying, music or the VIOLA …I was continuously motivated to find…yet… “a better way”!
My earliest teaching days tended to reflect much more of a traditional string pedagogical methodology. However as time progressed I began to replace many of the “old ways” with broader and more successful educational approaches I was becoming familiar with as the subjects I was teaching became more and more varied.
From my experience as a flight instructor for both Private and Commercial pilots and my years of teaching complex real estate law and ethics courses to business professionals I had discovered that no matter how overwhelming or complicated a subject is…. there IS a way to organize the material for simple, comprehensible presentation.
As a result I did eventually create a true curriculum for my viola students that I sincerely believe does effectively and efficiently take the subject of playing the instrument, along with its myriad of complexities (including elements of expressive music –making) and incorporates all of these basics in an extremely simple and easily understandable way. This method has officially become known as:
“LEARN THE VIOLA IN A DAY…EIGHT HOURS THAT IS. NO JOKE!”
Almost every student I have had the pleasure of working with regularly over the past 30 years has virtually spent the first eight hours of our work together experiencing and digesting this method, lovingly known by my students as: “ The de Veritch System”.
I am quite certain that almost every student who has experienced this method will sing (or play) its praises.
In my initial presentation of the “de Veritch System” to my students we first spend a little time discussing, identifying and acknowledging the major impediments to the simple learning of our instrument.
These obstacles include:
- The teaching difficulties created by the physically unnatural nature of playing the viola.
- The fact that hundreds of years of teaching the violin/viola by so many has created a multitude of fragmented approaches to the elements of playing, not to mention all the variations of each of those approaches. In other words, our students are typically forced to learn their instruments without the benefit of a logical and progressive curriculum of study.
- A great number of the teaching techniques employed today seem to stress rote repetition and imitation over the use of an efficient and systematic thought process and/or mental organization. This tends to promote:
1) An increase in overall inefficiency
2) An increase in student focus on instrumental complexities and their own technical deficiencies, often without presenting true solutions to the problems
3) An increase in tension and the direction of student attention to the left and right hands….away from the primary purpose of playing an instrument……namely….to MAKE MUSIC!
Anyway, I will leave you now to contemplate these thoughts and issues for a few days and will continue next week with some of my solutions to the dilemmi identified above.
Next week’s blog will describe the primary principles and ideals that guide my approach to both teaching and playing the viola. Don’t miss it!!!