It turns out people with older violins don’t become better musically over time. But you’ll never see the musicians of the 1700s complaining about how their violins had deteriorated.
Viola students have been studying for months, practicing, and trying out new techniques. Some people in the 1500s played the violin with a short string that stretched to reach the string. But that took far too long. They were much faster with a longer string. But they would start off by making a bow that stretched the string slightly, then bending it so that it was about an eighth of an inch above the string. They would then stretch the string a bit more, and then bend it to play over the string. But they’d never play the violin with a string that stretched to the point that it was nearly at the bottom of the bow. Most violins that were made at the period of great innovation were made with shorter strings, and they were quite different from today’s violins. As a result, many violins were never allowed to go to the factory. Instead, they were left in shops where they would get better play.
Viola schools in the 1800s taught the students a ton of different techniques to play the concerto and other passages in the violin concerto, even when the players couldn’t learn the new violin that was created for them in two months or less. It was a new instrument and it was taught in a new way. And it was very difficult to become a virtuoso.
And here’s something else: When people think about developing technique, they are probably not thinking about developing music education. But as the violin was being made in factories around the world, learning how to play the violins became crucial for aspiring music makers.
In many of these factories, people would take lessons from the best teachers. They would learn the exact same things that the new violins would take away from them. And this really helped people develop the new and valuable skills that were necessary for success in the early 1900s.
What have the benefits been for children in modern music schools? Children have made much more progress in musical development in the past 60 years than they have in any other development area. A lot of that has to do with the fact that we have been playing music for over two centuries. So we’re used to hearing music. We know exactly how to play it. There’s nothing new here. But children from very young ages learn the very things that they need to be good
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