Daily Bow: Sevcik’s Advice for Violinists


Master Teacher Otakar Sevcik Shares Teaching Philosophy, Technical Advice, other Tips

Czech violinist Otakar Ševčík was one of the most influential violin teachers of all time. Many readers will remember him as the author of numerous technical volumes that drill every area of string playing from bowing to shifting to double-stopping. Few, however, are acquainted with the man behind the seemingly infinite exercises and variations that comprise his method books. Thanks to a digitized collection of the classical music magazine The Etude, string players can finally discover the logic behind Sevcik’s compositions and gain an insight into the mind one of the most notable peadagouges of the last 200 years.

The student should have all the good instruction that is possible; but on the other hand he should also develop as far as possible the ability to teach himself. By that I mean that he should, when he makes a mistake, try to figure out why it was made, and then with intelligence invent exercises to correct that mistake before proceeding further. There is too much blind repetition, and too much rapid playing during study. By rapid playing the pupil thinks to save a few minutes; but in reality he loses years. My technical exercises have all been written either for my own needs or for those of my pupils; and publication followed only as a result of the success of the pupils who had used the exercise.

In addition to ideas about practicing and general technical advice, Sevick gives specific advice to American students. His views on subconcious absorption of musical skills such as an appreciation for the human voice and a natural command of rhythm depict American violinists not as inferior, but at a disadvantage to their European counterparts.

American pupils are as talented as any in the world, and they work as hard; but in general, they have one failing, they have not absorbed enough music into their subconscious mind. If one were to put a very fine plant in a dark cellar, and were to water and cultivate it very carefully; yet it could not grow into a fine healthy plant. So no matter how fine a musical talent we may have, and no matter how carefully the teacher may guide the musical studies, yet the lack of the light of plenty of good music in the everyday life is a great handicap.

While these remarks refer to students of a different era, they appear to have some merit. Are the cultural conditions for a child raised in Europe more conducive to musical development? Read more to hear what Professor Sevcik thinks, and comment below to weigh in.



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3 Responses to Daily Bow: Sevcik’s Advice for Violinists

  1. ana May 12, 2017 at 1:56 am #

    these is helpful for my study 🙂

  2. rohit aggarwal January 9, 2019 at 12:21 am #

    thanks for the information

  3. Varun Gupta January 9, 2019 at 12:23 am #

    good one keep up

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