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Peer Review

Learning to play the Violin



Overall Numeric Rating:

4.25 stars
Content Quality: 4.5 stars
Effectiveness: 4.25 stars
Ease of Use: 4.25 starsstar
Reviewed: Jul 27, 2011 by Music
Overview: The “Learning to play the violin” application provides video examples of violin practice techniques. Each lesson includes a summary of improvements that can be made in a violinist's performance through practicing each of the techniques. The techniques include Bow Arm exercises and Left Hand exercises and an index of methods included under each main category (bow arm and left hand) are included as links. A link to a metronome and tuning fork are included. The metronome application linked to QuickTime, but the metronome application itself did not work and caused the computer to hang. The tuning fork link was not activated on the site. The application includes a QR Code.
Type of Material: Tutorial
Recommended Uses: All useage - for all levels. Seems to be geared for the individual, who is responsible for keeping a practice journal and staying focused...
Technical Requirements: Technical requirements include an operational QuickTime application player and audio speakers. The site indicates that it can be used within the Blackboard Course Management System (CMS). If the QR Code is used, the end user must have a QR Code reader on their mobile device.
Identify Major Learning Goals: The learning goals are specified for each method presented. They appear at the top of the page for each method being described. Students and faculty can quickly refer back to the learning goals at any time. Directions on the techniques that should be used for each method are included; a written sample of musical notation for the method is presented, and YouTube videos link out to demonstrations showing of the nuances of the methods. The future of teaching and learning is held in the recording of the progress made by the student and the answers they discover as they practice
Target Student Population: High School , College General Ed , Graduate School , Professional
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: None indicated, but it seems like users of this tutorial will have some experience playing the violin.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths: The material that is presented in writing and in the videos for each method are very good. Students can read about, view the techniques in action, hear the videos and then practice each technique themselves according to their own pace and skill level. Rich resources and links on violin pedagogy, history of the violin and the conservatory method (among others) are provided. Quality of video (including aspect) is quite good...multiple angles, and plenty of them for each section. Online metronome a nice idea.
Concerns: 1) Grammar and spelling mistakes for example this was written on one page: "...Without the repeat on, do each of the exercises in a different Kelley are now training to be able to do all exercises in any key!..." 2)The tutorial suggests buying the Violin Practice Journal AND an intonation CD...then it says "....Because most pieces change keys several times within each movement the "Tuning CD" may not be the best tool for tuning a piece. Use a midi sequencer device instead...." This is confusing. 3) Currently, the technique exercises are part of a larger web page that includes violin pedagogy technology resources, violin pedagogy books, violin pedagogy sites and the Suzuki violin pedagogy method. These resources are very rich and provide a comprehensive overview of the violin and violin pedagogy from various violinists, but the technique exercises get lost on the page with all of these links.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.25 stars
Strengths: The site contains resources and learning activities in various media that can support the variety of learning styles for the majority of students. If the student needs assistance after they read information on a particular method, they then can view and listen to the videos or access other resources to assist them from the links provided on the site. Having the learning goals for each method front and center on the method’s page keeps the focus on the learning activities to be accomplished and reinforces the idea that each method is another step toward mastering violin techniques. Learning to play the violin" suggests "beginner" and I would advise supervision. The videos are great....but they alone cannot correct bad technique, nor monitor it.
Concerns: Could not hear the intonation CD (with the practice examples) or the Journal (which I would have to buy)...

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4.25 stars
Strengths: The violin techniques site maximizes the use of multimedia approaches to learning. As noted above, the majority of student learning styles—and teacher approaches to learning—can be accommodated. Having the learning goals stated for each method (and displayed so prominently) helps both student and teacher keep their focus. The fact that students can go through the exercises at their own pace, and re-review the background materials on the methods at any time, is an important learning activity.
Concerns: As was noted above, the violin techniques section of the web site gets lost in all of the other links to resources on the page. I recommend that the author provide a direct link to the technique exercises only so that the student and teacher can focus solely on those techniques. Navigationally, links would take the student and teacher back to the home page and to the other provided resources from he dedicated violin techniques page.

Other Issues and Comments: None.