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Principles of Violin Playing and Teaching [Hardcover]

Ivan Galamian

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
66 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wisdom of a master teacher 21 Nov 2001
By Christopher Bonds - Published on
Ivan Galamian (1903-1981) was one of the great violin teachers of the 20th century. He taught people like Perlman and Zukerman, as well as countless other professional players of today. This book sets forth the essentials of his method. The text was written by Elizabeth Green, herself a Galamian student and a noted author and teacher in her own right. But the ideas are Galamian's. The small number of pages (100+) is deceptive; every sentence is packed with information and must be read carefully lest some important feature be missed. Violin playing is a complex mental and physical activity, and to learn it well demands the ability to focus on many small details as one trains the ear and the hands. This book is not really intended to be a self-tutor so much as a reference for the teacher and the student who is advanced enough to understand what Galamian is saying. It is not for beginners. A beginner book might tell you where (approximately) to put your fingers on the string to get certain notes. This book tells you (in words and photos) what your finger looks like when it is on the string, what part of the fingertip is pressing on the string, how hard it is pressing, how fast it should be traveling as it hits the string, the musical effect of different methods of lifting the finger, and so on. And that's only a tiny bit of what is written about what the left hand and fingers do. This is followed by a complete analysis of the mechanics and musical effect of every conceivable bow stroke. Matters of bow speed, pressure and point of contact with the string are all considered in light of the effects they produce, along with many more ideas concerning placement of thumb and fingers on the stick, angle of bow to string, and more. The book concludes with an analysis of effective practicing and teaching. There is much useful material on the relationship between technique and artistic interpretation as well. The many excellent photographs and musical examples add a further measure of depth to the book.
One small quibble: I don't think he spent enough time discussing how to play in tune. What he does say is all correct--he mentions that one must "think the sound" of the desired pitch as well as mentally prepare the hand and finger motion--he is speaking of shifting--but thinking the pitch needs to be stressed more, I think, and extended to thinking the actual sound of a beautiful violin tone as well.
This is a book for teachers and players who are advanced enough to know the areas they need to work on. It is considered one of a handful of classic books on violin playing, which include the famous treatises by Leopold Mozart, F. Geminiani, and Carl Flesch. First editions of this book (1962) are scarce and cost anywhere from ..., which says something about its importance, I think.
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Also Superb for Parents of Violin Students 13 Oct 2002
By Cheryl Campbell - Published on
As a former violin student of 9 years who moved towards piano instead, I have found this book immensely valuable in helping me as a Suzuki parent of a young violinist myself. If you have a child moving into the Kreutzer etudes, or in Book 7 or later in the Suzuki series, this book is a godsend. At this point in your child's studies, you have no doubt been listening to many great artists, and wondering how they attain the immense variety in tonal coloring, or how they actually implement such amazing shifts, or complex bowing techniques. This book, with its pictures, is outstanding in deconstructing these motions. While it is highly analytical in parts, the book is also excellent in addressing the body's motion as a whole - in showing the coupling between the hand, elbow, shoulders, violin... using well known extracts from etudes, caprices, and solo works as practical examples.
It most definitely helps to be an advanced instrumentalist in reading this book, as the author certainly presumes that the reader has a trained ear. The sections on how to practice will also be appreciated by those who have worked in intensive Master Classes, and have carried back from these classes some improved practice habits.
All-in-all, this is book not to be missed, particularly by the supportive parents of maturing artists.
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great guide for aspiring teachers!!! 31 Jan 2001
By Yury Shubov - Published on
From the first few words in the introductory portion of this book you start to remember everything that was wrong with the approach of your past teachers. I once spoke about Galamian's teaching methods with one of his former students. I actually saw the notes that Galamian himself made in a notebook. For years I've wanted to get my hands on those notes again. And now I can.
This book is an "All-you-need-to-know" guide to violin playing and teaching. Every possible detail is mentioned and, what I love best about this book, references are given to etudes to apply them in practice.
Of course, as Galamian himself said, no book can replace a live interaction with a teacher. It can only help with ideas. Well, this book can help anyone find another approach to problems they may have.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Single best violin technique book 30 Jan 1998
By - Published on
Except for a few minor points on the anatomy of violin playing, Galamian hits the nail on the head with accurate and detailed instructions on the correct form and use of each type of bow stroke and technique know to man. This book is a must for the serious teacher and student. I have referenced it more than any other work in my violin career.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a priceless purchase 5 Mar 2003
By A Customer - Published on
this is a MUST for any violinist who is serious about playing the violin. This book has solution to all of the problems that a violinist faces, in addition, this is a great leaning tool, lines from major concertos are used as exemples. again, this book is a must for anyone who's serious about playing the violin or even becoming a concert soloist.
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