In studying various technique books for the violin, I have found a great number of texts to be very interesting and thought provoking on the matter of preparing students for the dreaded Kreutzer. Most interesting to me are the forewords to these etude books. In a copy of the Kayser etude book edited by Svecenski, the foreword expresses everything I feel about the Kayser etudes as a manual of preparation to Kreutzer. I find that so many students are given Kreutzer (including myself in my first college years) before they grasp the basic concepts necessary to use the material correctly.
Svecenski states:“In using Hans Wessely’s edition of the Kreuzter Etudes, and the special exercises by Franz Kniesel (“Advanced Exercises for the Violin”), I have found a great many students experience difficulty in carrying out the excellent instructions therein given for acquiring a correct position of the left hand (retaining the fingers in their places), owing to insufficient attention to correct placing of the fingers during the years of elementary and preparatory study. Students who follow faithfully the instructions given in this edition of Kayser’s Studies will find themselves repaid – when ready to take up the Kreutzer Etudes – by having acquired the correct position of the left hand, without which a reliable technic cannot be attained.”
The Schirmer edition by Svecenski is very specific about which fingers should be left down in the etudes (much more so than the International Edition). He frequently places the first finger across two strings while moving the other fingers. He requires specific fingers to stay down for extended periods to keep the hand still. I find this a technique many students have difficulty with because they have never been taught to temporarily “anchor” fingers or to use “in-between” fingers to assist in proper finger placement and spacing.
I have found that the Kayser etudes served me well to prepare many left hand techniques, and I plan to remedy the burden of Kreutzer that some teachers place on students too soon with the use of this book.
The Schirmer edition by Svecenski is available on the IMSLP Petrucci Music Library.