philosophical gallery

Philosophy of violin playing in twelve episodes

This philosophy was developed during twenty years of stage experience and over twelve years of teaching experience. I was able to follow the musical development of five-year-olds to seniors at all aptitude levels — from beginners to world-class players. I am grateful to all who inspired me along the way.



If you take up the violin and bow you become raconteur and actor-player in one.


A high standard — how do I achieve it?

Violin playing — at the uppermost level — requires of the performer a highly polished technique and discipline in practising. Discipline in a quiet atmosphere free from external influences is a delightful experience (mobile phone off).

The study of scales, etudes and exercises for improving tonal colour forms the foundation. A solid, practical basis can only be built when there is complete harmony of hands and body. The instrument should suit the player perfectly — there are large or more delicate violins — and one can also be made to order. Every player should keep searching until satisfied.

In the course of a violinist’s career this foundation can be developed further, with suitable persistence, through experience of both playing and appearing on stage, and by experimenting. Anyone wishing to brush up on technique can refer to detailed treatises, i. a. by Galamian, Capet and Yankelevich, where valuable information can be found that merits repeated study.

Excellent technique, genuine dedication to music, the most acute listening, ability to empathise, the will to create and tolerance for spontaneous improvisation in the finer tonal details — will result in music-making always being something new: playing in the flow.

The goal is always to raise pieces of music to the highest possible level, in the awareness that with time the repertoire ripens. If you have at your disposal suitable material you can achieve more in a short time than someone who works months on end polishing a single piece.

Fun in playing. Play. Pure bliss in playing. Enjoyment of playing.


On inspiration and transpiration

When making music, playing classical violin music, the printed music remains a priori the source of inspiration.

If you know what you are about, are totally familiar with the notes and are able to distance yourself from them, then you can constantly widen your horizon. And may you gradually, consciously access the composer’s craft. If you wish to go further you can compose and improvise yourself.

Part of this is an appreciation of the interdisciplinary aspect of the arts.

Art in general is sustained by the tone, the melody, the harmony of its elements, by its inherent detail but also the whole. This ambition and the curiosity to discover are uplifting.


On imagination

Imagination, experiencing music in images (e. g. metaphors), can have an enriching effect. Music making gains in vitality, it becomes PLAYING!


On maintaining distance

Light-hearted distancing from the task and a certain measure of self-mockery, courage, trust and gratitude are valuable traits in any career musician.


On weaknesses

Weaknesses should be recognised and turned to strengths.
The good you have already been given can always be perfected to excellence.
And: “no fear, no courage.”


On the target group: the audience … and how to win them over

It is the greatest pleasure to impart to the audience a feeling of light-footedness by means of one’s music. In such a way a moving concert experience can result, where the public is entranced. The audience reacts with applause to what they experience on stage. Their energy is an immediate reaction to what is played.


On the teaching situation

In lessons, as in stage appearances, when practising technique or playing pieces, it is about joy in the sound, teasing out a piece’s structure, the feeling of well-being within the atmosphere of the room as relayed to the situation on stage. In this way everyone can learn from each other. Gradually you can build up a knowledge of how to practice independently with some strategy, fun and perspective. Know how!


Philosophy of teaching (after Benjamin Franklin)

„Tell me and I will forget,
Show me and I may not remember,
Involve me and I will understand.“

My own extension:
„Once I've understood, life gets wiser.“


On breaks and fitness

When tired or concentration begins to flag it is better to take a break than to continue driving yourself. In principle it is a good thing to do fitness or Yoga exercises during a practice session, and breathe fresh air. Rest and recreation days are important, to be able to relax, to give body and mind a period in which to digest what has been learnt.

Perfection in playing is a legato of the whole bodily expression in every movement.


On breathing

If you breathe freely you have an unrestricted choice of sounds.


On violin playing — a holistic view

In times of renewed thinking about energy every violinist should be aware that it is somehow in tune with nature to play music on this so arcane instrument — it being almost completely fashioned from wood, and not even requiring a power socket …

Every violinist should be grateful for having the privilege to express the ultimate in harmony on one of mankind’s most noble and perfect creations.

People today are more and more rapidly losing an appreciation of nature on account of their technical orientation. Given this vocation, a musician can therefore rejoice all the more, in being a speaker of the most international language of all, namely music.

© Viktoria Kaunzner, March 2013