“Triple and quadruple harmonics may be combined in exactly the same way. Students should never get the idea that you press down the string as you press a button and—presto—the magic harmonics appear! They are a simple and natural result of the proper application of scientific principles; and the sooner the student learns to form and combine harmonics himself instead of learning them by rote, the better will he play them. Too often a student can give the fingering of certain double harmonics and cannot use it. Of course, harmonics are only a detail of the complete mastery of the violin; but mastery of all details leads to mastery of the whole.
“And what is mastery of the whole? Mastery of the whole, real violin mastery, I think, lies in the control of the interpretative problem, the power to awaken emotion by the use of the instrument. Many feel more than they can express, have more left hand than bow technic and, like Kubelik, have not the perfected technic for which perfected playing calls. The artist who feels beauty keenly and deeply and whose mechanical equipment allows him to make others feel and share the beauty he himself feels is in my opinion worthy of being called a master of the violin.”
WHAT THE TEACHER CAN AND CANNOT DO
Alexander Saslavsky is probably best known as a solo artist, as the concertmaster of a great symphonic orchestra, as the leader of the admirable quartet which bears his name. Yet, at the same time, few violinists can speak with more authority anent the instructive phases of their Art. Not only has he been active for years in the teaching field; but as a pedagog he rounds out the traditions of Ferdinand David, Massard, Auer, and Gruen (Vienna Hochschule), acquired during his “study years,” with the result of his own long and varied experience.
Beginning at the beginning, I asked Mr. Saslavsky to tell me something about methods, his own in particular. “Method is a flexible term,” he answered. “What the word should mean is the cultivation of the pupil’s individuality along the lines best suited to it. Not that a guide which may be employed to develop common-sense principles is not valuable. But even here, the same guide (violin-method) will not answer for every pupil. Personally I find De Beriot’s ‘Violin School’ the most generally useful, and for advanced students, Ferdinand David’s second book. Then, for scales—I insist on my pupils being able to play, a perfect scale through three octaves—the Hrimaly book of scales. Many advanced violinists cannot play a good scale simply because of a lack of fundamental work.