Views of a Royal Academy Professor.
Rowsby Woof, professor in the Royal Academy of Music, in London, has been giving some interesting views on violin teaching and playing to the London Strad. Professor Woof is a great believer in the periodical examinations for music pupils, such as are held in most English and all continental conservatories and music colleges. He says: "One of the great advantages of an examination is the spur it gives to the pupil who, though perhaps talented, is careless. It is good for all of us to have an object to work for, the attainment of which requires our best efforts. Examinations are invaluable as a training for concentration. The latter is absolutely essential to the would-be soloist, and all embryo Kubeliks should hail with delight such opportunities of practice in self-control, always remembering that it is better to fail at an examination than at a public performance.
"I have frequently noticed that a pupil's enthusiasm is largely increased as a result of listening to some great player. This brings me to an important point in the preparation for an examination. A pupil will often imitate unconsciously the execution of a passage, or the interpretation of a phrase, after listening, it may be several times, to his teacher's playing, when any amount of verbal explanation or mere theorizing has proved useless. I know of no instrument to which this remark is so applicable as to the violin. A pupil who never hears a beautiful tone cannot hope to produce a beautiful tone himself.
CHOOSING A SOLO.
"Pupils vary so greatly in their natural gifts that considerable judgment is required to choose selections best calculated to show the particular individual to advantage. Let me explain more fully. A young player with good fingers, but a stiff wrist, should avoid anything in the nature of a moto perpetuo (perpetual motion). Again, a pupil with a naturally free wrist, but without great flexibility of fingers, would do well to choose one of the easier moto perpetuos, such as David's Etude in G minor (second book of Bunte Reihe), where the constant repetition of the same note gives comparatively little work to the left hand. Of course, I merely quote this piece as an example, and the intelligent student will use his own discretion in applying my remarks to his own case.
ADAPTING THE FINGERING.
"There is another point which young players are often afraid of considering. It not infrequently happens that the printed fingering of a passage or passages, though probably suitable in a large number of instances, may be advantageously altered to suit one's own hand. A pupil should try to think out why a passage is difficult. I always encourage my own pupils to try various fingerings when any special difficulty confronts them. This power of adapting fingering, however, requires experience. I have often found it helpful to a pupil to point out various ways of overcoming an awkward passage, and I am always delighted when an alternate fingering is suggested by a student.
PRACTICING AT DIFFERENT PITCHES.
"In preparing for an examination I would very strongly recommend a candidate to accustom himself to various pitches. In these days of high and low pitch (not to mention several intermediate ones), it is sometimes quite fatal to play only with one piano. I remember some time ago discovering quite accidentally that a very young and really talented pupil who was preparing for an examination absolutely could not play in tune at the low pitch which is now so generally used. There was only one solution. The examination was close at hand, so I advised constant practice at the lower pitch, with most satisfactory results."
While the examinations above mentioned are not so much a feature of musical education in the United States, the public recital and pupil's concert take their place to a large extent, and possess similar advantages.
The leading concert violinists of the present day are getting to use more and more pieces taken from the old masters, of a comparatively short and simple character. They use these either in groups on the program, or as encores to their more difficult numbers. These short pieces invariably prove extremely popular with audiences, many of the hearers seeming to enjoy them best of all. Willy Burmester, the famous German violinist, deserves the gratitude of violinists everywhere for the fine arrangements he has made of pieces of this character. His selections have been from many different sources, the great classic German composers being well represented, and especially the earlier French and Italian writers. Quite a number have been arranged from piano works. The following are among the best of Burmester's arrangements and are played by eminent violinists the world over: Minuet, by Loeilly; Aria (Siciliana), by Pergolesi; La Complaisante, by C. Ph. E. Bach; La Bavolet Flottant. by Couperin; Gavotte, by Rameau; Gavotte, by Martini; Minuet D Major No. 1, by Mozart; Minuet, by Handel; Minuet E flat Major No. 1, by Beethoven; Arioso, by Handel; Gavotte, by Bach; Air on the G String, by Bach; Minuet, by Haydn; Minuet G Major No. 2, by Beethoven; Minuet E flat Major No. 2, by Mozart; Giga, by Handel; Tarzen Minuet,byHandel; Tambourine, by Gossec; Minuet, by Grazioli; Gavotte, by Gossec; Präludium, by Handel; Minuet, by Gluck; Gavotte, by Lully; Minuet, by Kuhlau; Deutscher Tanz, by Mozart; Rigaudon, by Rameau; Bourrée, by Handel; Minuet, by C. Ph. E. Bach; Air on the G String, by Mattheson; Deutscher Tanz, by Dittersdorf.
A number consisting of three or four of these compositions has a wonderful effect in lightening up the program of a heavy violin recital, and they are also very effective encore pieces. Arranged as they are by so eminent a violinist as Burmester, they are thoroughly violinistic and effective.