On July 13th, I did my three test pieces from Suzuki Book 3 for my teacher, Strings, and passed, making me, according to Strings, an "intermediate" Suzuki student. In old D&D terms, I'm level 4!
Before that, for about a month, I was totally focused on memorizing and working on those 3 pieces, getting them to the point where I could play them as well as possible, from memory. It was hard. Most days, I was practicing about an hour and a half to two hours because I really wanted to pass into the next Suzuki book before I left.
Part of the issue is that Strings was leaving for a music camp thing, and won't be back here until after I've gone. And then I'll be birding in Scotland, and won't be practicing then. And then I'll have to get a violin at the Abbey (they said they probably have one I can use, and if not will help me find a student rental). But, in terms of memorizing, it would be hard to be away for two or three weeks and then go back to trying to play those pieces from memory.
But it worked out! And I've started into Book 4. I've also started back working on the technique books I have. There are 4 of them.
1. Ševčík bowing
2. Ševčík technique (more fingering than bowing) (first position)
3. Whistler's Intro to 3rd and 5th positions (hand and finger, mostly)
4. Trott's Melodious Double Stops
Each of these helps me focus on a specific area where I need to focus (and really, pretty much everyone at my level needs to focus on bowing, fingering, positions, and double stops, I guess). But for the past couple of months, I haven't practiced these as much because of focusing on the three test pieces.
I posted before about working on the Ševčík books, and how hard they are. That was back in January, and from what it says, I got the Ševčík books last summer, and started working on them.
I've been better about the bowing book than the fingering book. Today in my practice session, I couldn't even remember where I'd left off with the fingering book, so I decided to start at the beginning, since they're so hard.
As you can see from that previous post, the first set of exercises starts with slurred quarter notes. Last summer and into winter, it took ten minutes or so to be able to slur the notes in a single measure more or less okay. So on a given day, I might make it through one new measure, and one old, and then eventually, a whole line of old, and so on. (Because I did improve.) And then I'd start the next set, and basically the same slow process.
Today, I started and played the whole first set pretty much straight through, with a few mistakes, but mostly way, way better than I remembered. It was pretty amazing to me, because I go along practicing, and often don't realize that I've improved, but then I go back, and something that was really hard is not nearly as hard. And then it's obvious that I actually have improved. And that makes me feel good!
So I remember for the future:
1. Ševčík bowing - exercise 4, #30 (page 9) (Basically, each exercise is a few lines of music, and then the page and next page are full of bowing variations for those few lines).
2. Ševčík technique (more fingering than bowing) (first position) - back to the first exercise on the A string
3. Whistler's Intro to 3rd and 5th positions (hand and finger, mostly) - G major, #62 (page 10)
4. Trott's Melodious Double Stops - played through #1-3, worked on #4.