There is nothing quite as revealing as playing a duet to “really test the metal” to see where strengths and weaknesses lie for musicians. From pitch, rhythmic precision, tone production and expressiveness, all components are essential in order to deliver a strong performance for others to enjoy.
I can still remember with great fondness playing duets with my teacher as a young high schooler, being inspired, challenged and awestruck, all at the same time!
Over the years, as a violin teacher, there have been those students who simply couldn’t “fit” in the same box as others, for whatever reason. Duets have been a lifesaver in these particular situations, each one unique. To watch the stress and anxiety fade away as our notes blend in blissful harmony is truly a highlight of my teaching day!
In order to feel that our experience is indeed pedagogically of value, I always emphasize the elements mentioned above (pitch, rhythm, tone and expression), starting and stopping until a certain measure of success is achieved, little by little in each category. Patient instructions, mixed in with a dose of laughter and joy, is guaranteed to bring a new level of confidence and precision to the student, while, simultaneously paving the way for greater achievement.