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Everything posted by Laurel

  1. I'm a plain old run-of-the-mill rightie, but have been told by many that there is no need to convert instruments to accommodate left-handedness. If anything, you may be learning the fingering of the cello faster than a rightie, as you are so much more adept at fine finger motions with the left-hand fingers. Bowing may be easier with right-handers, but at the beginning it is a large motion rather than a "fine" motion; as you progress you will grow into being able to make subtle motions with your right hand. Having said that, converting the cello is a possibility, albeit an expensive one. You'd have to have the insides of the instrument changed around, and the pegs, etc. Most people only do this when they lose left-hand fingers or have some other problem preventing them from playing in the "normal" fashion. The other thing to do is to just play the standard instrument backwards - Ashley MacIsaac is an example of this. :-) Hope this helps! Thanks Laurel
  2. : Hi. : This may not sound like much, but the only way to devolop good sightreading skills is to sightread, a lot. : Good Luck, : Ben I might add - start with pieces that are easier than you are playing right now. This will help you work on sight reading without lots of technical difficulties at the same time. As your sightreading improves, you can increase the difficulty level. Hope this helps! Laurel
  3. Also not to boast (although of course I love to!) my hubby & I will be going to Europe in September. We'll be visiting some or possibly all of the abovementioned countries, depending on time, money & energy levels. England & France are definites. Could I please ask the same question? Thanks so much! Jane, have a great trip! Laurel
  4. To all you parents out there: I recently started teaching the son of a friend of mine to play violin. This fellow (I'll call him "A.") is almost 6 years old, and has a 3-year-old sister and a 2-year-old brother. Of course the younger two want to do anything that A. is doing. Any advice you can give on how to keep the violin from being ripped to pieces while they all fight to play with it? Parent-supervised practise time will be OK; I'm just worried about all the other times that A. wants to proudly carry it around, etc. The family is borrowing the instrument, and really can't afford repairs. Thanks in advance! Laurel
  5. >Grade 7 is definately an achievement in 4 years... WOW!!!! Don't speak too soon, I haven't got my marks back yet!! ha ha! Laurel "Not Quitting Her Day Job"
  6. Go for it! I started at 24, and now at 29 I'm at a Royal Conservatory Grade 7 level. Your previous musical experience will definitely help you, however little you may have had. I agree with other posts about learning to hold instrument and bow properly right from the beginning. Don't worry about the beginning exercises being "boring" - in my first few weeks I didn't find playing notes on open strings boring! The price sounds about right for professional teachers (I'm in Canada too). What city are you in? You might find a cheaper rate by learning from an advanced student, but it might be risky finding one who is able to teach well. Do discuss with your teacher the merits of various learning methods. The Suzuki method is excellent, but was designed for small children; the teacher may not be able (or willing) to adapt it to adult students, because there are so many other methods out there. I learned from a 2-book series called "Strictly Strings", in which you learn scales, folk songs, Christmas carols and short exerpts from famous music. It includes some skills such as shifting as well. Hope this helps, and best of luck to you! Laurel
  7. : Sharon, and everyone else out there who thinks they can make a life out of this - get real. Good points, however the Suzuki method was never intended to produce great musicians. It was intended to produce wonderful human beings. It's having the chance to make music and enjoy it at the same time, and to have early exposure to the beauty of life, both to observe it and produce it. Plus, it was developed at a time when early childhood education was, well, in its infancy ;-). I think it just wasn't thought that young children were capable of doing such things as playing Bach and Vivaldi. Another benefit is that it is excellent mental development. I don't know how to explain it, but music uses parts of the brain used by no other discipline except maybe mathematics - and you'd have to do a heckuva lot of math to get the same benefit. Kind of like learning a second language when you are a child. It doesn't matter whether you'll ever use it, but at least your brain has learned the concepts. I go back to my earlier post about getting a teacher who will not overload the student (like note-reading, sight reading, memorization and learning by ear all at once - fine for a pro, too much for a primary-aged child) but will not hold back such skills when the student is ready. Thanks Laurel
  8. :Is it because you haven't heard the tune in one of _those_ suzuki recordings? or is it you're just not strong in reading music? : we must remember that in the real world, sight reading is really important and recordings are not always available! Thanks for your reply! Oops, I should have been more specific. I was talking about learning these fiddle tunes ONLY by ear. The fiddler teaches the piece phrase by phrase, slowly, and the group repeats them, gradually putting them together until we have the whole piece. No music in front of us at all; the music is available after the session to take home. I guess I'm saying that traditional people like me (or maybe it's just me!) are stuck to our music. I'd just like to have a little more flexibility. These are really quite easy pieces, in easy keys (the most difficult I've done so far is C major - ooooooh!) so it's surprising to me to find it so difficult. Oh well, it's fun anyways! BTW my sight-reading is pretty good, as I've spent 3 years in a small string orchestra. Just did my RCM Grade 7 exam and the sight-reading was no problem. Not that I'm bragging or anything! ;-)
  9. >They're probably either brain-washed DominantHeads Ha ha! I like it!! Yes, I'm a DominantHead and proud of it! :-) Seriously - how do these other strings compare to Dominants in cost? I use them because they are a step up from steel, and are the best I can afford at the moment - unless there are some comparable prices - ? I kinda like the guy at our local music store who said "Dominants are the most expensive violin string you can get" !! Thanks Laurel
  10. : What do people out there think about Suzuki method? : Do people agree that children should be taught how to : read music right at the start or should they learn by : ear first? I know I added to this thread previously, but here's another thought (okay, more than one): - It's ten times easier to learn a piece after you've heard it. - Learning by ear helps children learn to LISTEN - a life skill adaptable to all parts of their lives - On the other hand, reading notes is another skill, which should not be held back unless it really is going to overload the student. Somebody mentioned teaching reading during book 1 - sounds good to me! Do take into account the child's reading level at school: my teacher had a 4-year-old student who played "Minuet 1" at a recital; she was not reading language yet, so she was probably not ready to read music yet. That's not a problem. - There may be some who are ashamed of admitting they studied Suzuki method. Well, I'm ashamed that with my traditional training, I can't learn simple 1st position fiddle tunes, about equal to Suzuki Book 1 tunes, without a LOT of mental effort! (just the notes, never mind all the ornaments) However, am working on it! :-) In short - find a teacher who will teach both skills, they're both valuable. OR - what's wrong with a parent picking up a note-reading book and helping their child themselves? If the parent makes it fun, it's worth a shot! Thanks Laurel
  11. >I think that Suzuki's rigidity had a lot to do with it. Good point. However, could it also be the rigidity of the teacher? Are teachers not allowed to teach other pieces periodically? For example, you could teach "Au Claire de la Lune" fairly early, and you could teach "I'm a Little Teapot" around the time students learn "Song of the Wind". If the teacher has some flexibility and creativity, he/she could teach such supplementary pieces which have the same technical level or pedagogical purpose as Suzuki pieces. Teachers out there, any comments? Thanks Laurel
  12. : I have been playing the violin for over 10 years now and I have never complained of a backache. I have been playing the viola for 3 years and it is NOT difficult. : Maybe yes, a cello might be worse but NOT A VIOLA. Point taken. I was just quoting a violist friend of mine (has played viola for ?? 5 years?? I don't know, but he's not a beginner). We were just talking about how violists have easier music (like none - okay, fewer - of those 32nd note runs like 1st violins have) BUT they have a variety of clefs to read, and it's more awkward to hold the instrument, and more likelihood of back, neck shoulder, elbow and finger pain - just because of the size of the instrument. Maybe he just holds it funny or sits wrong? Possibly. I dunno, I've never played one. Regardless, whatever ya play, if ya learn the wrong way to hold it, it's gonna hurt! :-) Thanks Laurel
  13. : Bach: Air on G string (arr. Wilhelmij) : Schubert: Ave Maria (arr. Wilhelmij) : Handel: Largo from Xerxes At our wedding we had the above, plus another called "Salut D'Amour (Love's Greeting)" by I don't know whom. In fact, I didn't hear any of these - I was the bride, and I wasn't there when all this introductory stuff was happening. Besides, I was too stunned! :-) Laurel
  14. : Do not even attempt to "get a good leg in the door" with a violin. Piano and guitar have more natural playing positions, and learning to play the piano is, essentially, not as difficult as learning to play the violin. You won't be able to get even close to a good sound from reading a book. When you get a teacher, he or she will help you perfect your sound. And even then, it could be months before you like what you hear. The violin is not an instrument with which you can get a head start. : -Michael Also keep in mind that you can get serious physical injuries from holding the instrument and bow incorrectly. This is true! Carpal tunnel syndrome (I know it's kind of a trendy condition these days, but it happens), neck problems, back problems, shoulder and wrist problems... plus, people I know who play viola and cello say those instruments are even worse. Please, wait and consult your teacher! Thanks Laurel (P.S. When you do, keep us posted on how it's going! We're all interested in each other's progress. Good luck!)
  15. What kind of strings do you have on it now? If they're steel strings, switch to Dominants - I did, and my violin is now softer and nicer-sounding. Thanks Laurel
  16. I have an opportunity to take on my first student, the older son of a friend of mine - he's almost 6. I'm wondering if I should just go for it, or if this would be a case of "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing"! I've been playing now for almost 5 years, and am finishing RCM Grade 7 this year. As a child I played the accordion, for about 6 years. So, I'm not a rank beginner, but a long way from being qualified too. The arrangement is that I'll be consulting with my teacher as to what to teach when, what method etc. I'll be periodically "donating" time from my lessons for my teacher to evaluate my student - making sure I'm on the right track! I'll also encourage the parents to talk to my teacher privately, in case I suck as a teacher and they don't want to say it to my face. What do you think? Will this work, or will I end up ruining the poor child? Or is it just stupid? :-) Thanks Laurel
  17. : I think Brandon has written an excellent summary on vibrato. More truth in it than some books I have read on the subject - especially regarding NEVER GOING OVER THE PITCH. Check out rec.music.makers.bowed-strings for a discussion on this topic not too long ago - I'm assuming it's still there! I remember the bit about the ear hearing the higher registers best, so therefore you never go over the pitch, but someone else posted some other acoustic information which I can't remember right now, but which made perfect sense too - rendering it unnecessary to stay under the pitch! Thanks Laurel
  18. Hi Wendy In answer to your questions - I was 28 when I started working on this concerto - I was 24-going-on-25 when I started playing the violin. I started this concerto in the fall last year, and played it for my exam the following June - so total practise time was 6 or 7 months. The version? My teacher gave me copies from the Suzuki book. How to approach it? SLOWLY. A recording with the final tempo and everything is just a nice-to-have, it doesn't mean that's exactly what you have to achieve. Seems to me my teacher gave me a page each week to work on, then we worked on different aspects during the following months. And, my final exam tempo was nowhere near what a professional would play at. The main difficulty is the long passage of 16th notes on page 3. Besides just doing it slowly, here's a couple techniques I was told to do: Play each note 3 times (you know, A-A-A-C-C-C-B-B-B-A-A-A etc.), then twice, and finally once. This will help your fingers move faster, and it's good for when you're first learning the notes. Later, try playing this passage with your left thumb off the neck - just touch the neck with the base joint of the first finger, and of course your fingertips. This forces your fingers into the correct movements (hammering, not pinching) and again helps them move faster with less tension. Only other thing I remember is to watch your intonation - I kept slipping in F#'s where F naturals go! Getting discouraged by listening to the pros? yeah, am there and doing that!! I'm working on exerpts from Bach's Brandenburg Concerto #3 for this year's exam, and I hate listening to the recording! My version sounds so heavy and scratchy and draggy... Just remember you're not alone in feeling this way. Your teacher should be able to give you encouragement. And, remember that everyone hits walls! You'll get past it sooner or later, and then wonder what was so difficult "back then" ! Hang in there! Hope this helps Laurel
  19. : : I am working on the Vivaldi concerto in A minor for violin. Can someone recommend a good recording of this piece? : I happen to have just commenced this one too. At this stage it looks a big ask! It sounds great, and I strive for the day when I can play it well enough to give it justice. (snip) I did this concerto last year. Stick with it - it's fun to play, and a wonderful feeling when you do get to that stage! (snip again) : As a beginner I much prefer the Perlman version, it's at a much slower tempo. The EG version sounds ridiculously and hilariously fast to me. Probably somewhere between the two would be ideal, but as I say, for a beginner, "slow and easy does it". (snip) Has the Perlman one been released on CD? Sounds like this is the better one to listen to. Also, does anyone have an opus number (like Op. 3 no. ??), RV number or whatever to go with this concerto? I've looked for it and it's hard to sift through all the "concerto in A minor" listings in a music store. Thanks Laurel
  20. : : : As for the original question - I would believe it is only a matter of national semantics. We call it an elevator - the British call is a lift. Nothing serious to be concerned with. "Reading" could come under the same interpretation (pun intended!). For example, when you go to university in Britain you "read" your subject, as in "I read English at Cambridge". Here in Canada you "take" or "study" your subject. I studied English in university. To further complicate the matter - in the U.S. you go to "college" whether it's a university or a college. In Canada you specify where you're going - I went to university, my husband went to college (any non-university post-secondary institution). Hope this helps! yeah, right ;-) Laurel
  21. : I have never taught the fiddle much but have recently taken on a few budding older students - Do teachers still use Kayser, Kreutzer, Dont, Fiorillo, Rode and other classic studies very much or have other pedagogues prevailed in recent years? I also had good doses of Sevcik. Yes, I recognise most of those names as "study" names! Add Wohlfahrt and Mazas too. A new (?) name in Royal Conservatory studies is Josephine Trott - she's done a good series of double-stop etudes and I don't know what else. My teacher tells of another of his students, a boy of about 8 or so, who when he sees either Dont or Rode (I'm not sure which), immediately says "I hate this guy!" :-) Laurel
  22. : I am 24 with no musical background or experience in any musical instrument. I would dearly love to learn the violin as I have a love of celtic music. : Do you think my age and lack of musical experience will make it very hard for me to learn the violin ? No, you'll do fine! I started at 24 as well; I did have a musical background, mind you, and experience on the accordion of all things! - but that only gave me a little head start. Were you taught music in elementary or high school? Even learning the recorder in grade 4 or the ukulele in grade 5 (or whatever) is musical experience! I think you'll find it's fascinating to learn something completely new, like an instrument or a foreign language, as an adult. More difficult? well, yes, but so what! If you want to focus on Celtic music, my main warning would be this: find a teacher who will teach you proper technique, and don't worry if you're working on "classical" music to learn it! There is too much animosity between "violin" (classical) players and "fiddlers" (folk & celtic & bluegrass etc.) players, I find. I am learning violin, but am also in an informal fiddle group, and while it's a lot of fun, technique is IGNORED in this group. As long as you get the notes (close enough) and have fun, that's all that matters. However, if this was my only exposure to violin playing, I'd have all sorts of bad habits which would be much harder to un-learn, would hinder my progress into any other genre, and would make playing physically painful. On the other hand, don't let your "classical" teacher stop you from learning Celtic fiddle! You know what you want from this exercise, and have the means to find it - don't let an overly snobby teacher or anyone else stop you. Hope this helps! Laurel
  23. : I know it sounds silly and you're probably thinking I'm schizophrenic or something, but when I play one of my violins, an old German one, I could swear I hear people talking. Not words or anything, but just like a low mumbling like they'd be in the next room. Over time I've just got used to it, but sometimes I just have to stop and check there's no-one around.Maybe a past owner coming to check up on me? :-) Or maybe just something to do with the harmonics of the instrument.It's really off-putting. Scary! With my violin, I'm always hearing the phone ring - our phone rings at the same pitch as E-string notes - so I'm always stopping to check if I heard the phone, or just some harmonics or something from the violin. Wouldn't that be lovely, if I stopped halfway through my exam to go answer the phone....! Thanks Laurel
  24. I started off as an adult beginner with Strictly Strings, published by Highland & Etling. It's a set of two books, and will take a student up to being able to do some shifting and third position work. These were geared more or less toward kids, but NOT in an insulting manner; I didn't have much of a problem with any of the pieces, with the possible exception of the "Bus Ride Song" (you know, 99 Bottles of Beer on the wall....) The only other insulting parts might be the introduction (reference made to "growing as a young musician") and the Certificates of Achievement on the last page. However, the benefits outweigh any insult in these few things. This series includes lots of folk tunes from many different cultures, and snippets of famous pieces, such as Brahms' Academic Festival and Lehar's Merry Widow Walts. Plenty of Christmas carols. And hey, don't underestimate the adults - those certificates can be mighty fine motivational aids! For example - my brother-in-law has been taking beginner piano lessons for about 3 years now. He's a big, strong, manly type of guy who builds patios and works on cars - and yet he insists on getting a sticker when he's mastered the next piece in his music book! Hope this helps Laurel
  25. : I wonder if there is a limit for an adult beginner to play in an advanced level. I don't think so. If you keep practising, paying attention to technique, learning lots of different music, and at some point playing in a quartet or small (or large) community orchestra, or some other group, who knows? By the time you're 41 you can say you have 20 years experience! It's different when you learn an instrument as an adult. Kids never seem to think it's "hard", to them it's just "boring". Then they turn around and play all sorts of difficult things without batting an eye. Adults, on the other hand, never seem to think it's "boring" - it's just "hard"!! We have to think our way through every note. I can sympathise with your doubts - I started almost 5 years ago, at the age of 24, and am now at RCM Grade 7 level. However, I usually think I'll never have the right sound or skill level for a paid position! Oh well, I'll just wait & see what the next 10-15 years hold. Besides, I'm still having fun! Hope this helps Laurel
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