Keeping a Technic

by W. Daly

With violin-playing, as with every imaginable form of art-work, there are no limits to study and endeavor; to repeat, the oft-quoted remark by Schumann: "Of learning there is no end." The greatest virtuoso has difficulties and limitations with which he must unceasingly contend. De Bériot was heard to say : "If I could only play a scale in tune!"

There is neither finality nor certainty in art-work. The plaving of the greatest genius constantly fluctuates, it is impossible for him to continue at. one unbroken level of excellence; at its best his work must always be far from perfect. At first thought this may seem very discouraging; in reality the effect should be quite the reverse. For the difficulties to the whole race of violinists, professional and amateur.

A violinist's technic is a perishable thing, and it will be quite impossible for the student to preserve such knowledge as he may already have acquired without a certain amount of regular practice. The actual amount need not be very great; the essential thing is that it shall be regular.

One of the most valuable lessons it is possible for any one to have is the intelligent study of a good model. This is not to be understood as recommending the copying of every peculiarity in every great violinist's method; indeed mere copying is rather to be deprecated.

The secret of success in violin playing lies in constant revision of the earlier stages of study. By this means technic is kept strong at all points. It will always be profitable for the player to turn back to the earliest stages of his work to take thought, for example, as to whether he still holds his violin or his bow as he ought. Very simple exercises give the student a rare opportunity to improve the quality of his tone, inasmuch as in them he is free to concentrate all his attention on the one subject alone.

The whole artistic development of the student depends to a very great extent on his choice of music. He is perfectly free to choose between good music and bad. But while his sympathies should embrace all schools of music still his first thought should be for that which is best. No better advice can be given to any student of the violin than to make Kreutzer's Etudes his constant companion and, both as violin-player and as musician, to set foremost, among all his music the works of J. S. Bach.