Violin pedagogy has evolved over the years, with every decade seeing the preponderance of new teaching methods. Feats that were hitherto unimaginable are now commonplace as individuals with malformed limbs can now lead normal and productive lives with the aid of prostheses. Owing the current rate of technological advancement, it is almost impossible to remain on the cutting edge. As educators, we are prompted to think critically before subscribing to a teaching philosophy so that we can be party to the advancement of the current pedagogical spate of affairs and not constitute a drawback.
In my seven-year teaching experience, I believe that anyone with average motor skills can learn to play the violin with some proficiency as long as instruction and practice are Systematic, Continuous and Rigorous. With such a demanding instrument as the violin, a systematic approach in the presentation of ideas to the student will ensure that the foundation for good technique is laid and facility can be upgraded. When this is done continuously, good technique becomes a way of life. Rigor in this context does not necessarily translate to the exertion of physical strain. It only means that practice should be done meticulously and attention should be paid to every aspect of the task in view. This three–point approach forms the core of my teaching philosophy.
I also believe in creating an environment that fosters active participation and critical thinking with the use of concepts and imagery that are familiar to the student. I once taught a class on ‘Natural and Artificial Harmonics’ with this technique using the ‘Crest and Trough’ diagram of a sinusoidal wave. It was immediately apparent to this senior high school student that natural harmonics occur at the nodes – where the wave cuts through the x–axis and that artificial harmonics are produced at corresponding nodes relative to the shortening or lengthening of the string with the displacement of the index finger.
My students are given exercises to be completed before the next class so that a system for continuous evaluation is established. They are also made to perform at small–scale events such as house concerts and talent shows as a way to boost confidence by performing for audiences other than themselves and/or family.
I do not believe in imposing ideas on students. Instead, I help them understand complex scientific concepts such as frequency, helmets motion, helmholtz corner, helmholtz resonance and after length tuning using simple every day concepts. As such, my teaching philosophy is congruent with the fact that the classroom experience should be a refreshing adventure which seeks to lead students in a path of constructive analysis on the road to unlocking their unique identities as violinists and pedagogues of the future.