I heard a story about Itzhak Perlman recently and I told my class the story last week. (Hopefully, it is true!) This is what I heard: Besides being a virtuoso violinist, Itzhak Perlman is also a great cook and he was once on a television program as a guest on a cooking show. The host asked Mr. Perlman if there was one thing he could change about his life, what would it be? You would think he would have said something about the illness of polio that he suffered with in his childhood. Nope! He said that he wished his first teacher would have taught him to keep his left thumb low and a bit under the neck because it was too hard for him to break that habit when he got older. Wow! A good solid position is so essential when teaching beginners! I told my students this story because I also teach them to keep the left thumb low and slightly under the neck and my students really tried to keep their position perfect after hearing this story.
As a follow up, I am going to show some videos of Itzhak Perlman for my video of the week. As I mentioned in previous posts, I always show my students a short video on Mondays to help motivate and inpsire them to work hard and practice throughout the week.
First I will show them this video about practicing SLOWLY.
Next I will show them a few minutes of Itzhak Perlman playing some of the Tchaikovsky concerto (I told my students how I used to listen to it when I was learning violin in 7th grade).
We will then discuss how they felt about the performance. Did Mr. Perlman make it look easy? Did they notice his left thumb? Did they notice how close he keeps his fingers to the fingerboard. Did the piece sound like it was hard to play? Did his bow hold look relaxed or tense? etc...
Finally, I will show my students a few mintues of the same concerto...this time performed by someone their own age who lives in a town only 20 minutes from us. I want them to see that young students can accomplish great things through hard work and careful practice.