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What is the best tip you have ever learned?


violin_angel
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Hi! I have been reading your forum for quite some time now and have finally decided to post a question. I have learned a lot from all of your posts. I have been taking violin lessons for almost two years now and can play OK.(Can play most Suzuki Vol. 3 pieces, 1st-3rd positions, tons of Wholfart studies, etc.) I was wondering what was the best tip that you have discovered while learning to play your instrument. I guess I started gripping my violin around the neck too tightly for some reason. My teacher said I had the "Death Grip." She gave me a rather thick marker (highlight marker) to place in my left hand to keep while I played. This forced my wrist outwards and also enabled me to play vibrato a little better. I couldn't believe the difference in the tone. This tip really helped me to sound much better.

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The best tip I've ever learned :

Don't sleep with your fiddle... you will roll over in the night and break it.

Second to that : It is looked down upon to sleep with someone elses fiddle.

More seriously, and applicable to someone who is in their third year or position changes; Its all about hand shapes and finger patterns. There are four finger shapes to fit all keys and all positions. Understanding this makes life easier.

mike

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Good Post, thanks!

it seems like the responses may end up being a bit on the wild side.

so here's mine..

"there are no notes on a fiddle" , you just play it.

ridiculous, perhaps, but there is the ring of truth. notes are static and isolated. music is a dynamic continuim.

the printed page is a mere symbol of the music.

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v_a:

I almost overlooked this thread because I though it said

"what is the best tip you ever earned"

which in my case was very small. Probably the best tip I learned was "play tunes slowly." Then speed them up. Any tune can and should be played slowly to get everything right. Then the second tip was "If you can play one tune fast you can play all tunes fast." I'm still trying to verify that one.

-dogma

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I think the best single thing I ever learned is "letting go of the fingerboard". When I learned the Seitz, "Fifth Pupil's Concerto", I informed my teacher that as I shifted positions, the part of my hand that was supporting the neck wasn't sliding smoothly. She then proceeded to play the entire piece without any part of her hand supporting the end of the instrument - only her fingertips touched the fingerboard. As a beginner struggling with all kinds of issues associated with the left hand, that was an incredible experience. She played the piece with beautiful intonation, vibrato, and more expression than I would ever have dreamed possible.

Although I still continue to support the neck, I do so much more freely and when using a shoulder rest - often not at all.

Tim

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THE NUMBER ONE TIP:

Do not wear scandalous outfits to performances.

Oh I'm serious on this one, can't stress it enough. One of my friends got docked around five points at a recent competition because of her "revealing apparel." Oooh, it's bad.

Here's some more:

- Practice with a mirror for bow angle.

- Try to record your playing as much as possible.

- Practice everything slowly, technique comes with time.

- Don't pound your fingers onto the finger board, try to make them really light and springy.

- Listen to as many violin/classical recordings as possible! It's great because it builds a strong musical ear which Suzuki doesn't always provide.

There's much more, but I'm lazy.

--Mazas

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In reply to:

Practice with a mirror for bow angle.

- Try to record your playing as much as possible.

- Practice everything slowly, technique comes with time.

- Don't pound your fingers onto the finger board, try to make them really light and springy.

- Listen to as many violin/classical recordings as possible!


Oh yes......all these things (although listening can be scary)

Stand good = look good. Look good = sound good.

Posture and your basic hold(s) in the hands is EVERYTHING.

More bow is better than less (9/10 times)

Get away from the upper half - it's lazy and doesn't sound good! (mostly)

Make sure your upper arm is level with the bow stick - GO BUY A MIRROR.

Odd bunch, but I'm in an odd mood

T_D

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my all-time bugaboos:

- slow practice

- not clutching with the left hand

- relaxing the bow arm

- attention to placement & use of pinky & ring-finger in bow-hold

- attention to elbow level (both arms) especially when crossing strings

- holding violin up & over to left side more (I'm tall)

- read ahead, even for familiar music

- identify notes & intervals, even for familiar music

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Level/parallel.....could be different.

Level means this - when you stand square on to the mirror and look at your upper arm and bow stick - they should be at the same angle (to the floor/body etc.)

Parallel to my mind is more suited to looking at a player from side on (like in a concert) when they reach the 'square' point around/above middle.

T_D

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The most important thing I ever learned about playing the violin was the first thing my first teacher told me. It sounded so simple then, I paid little attention, but it is absolutely a profound truth, as I realized years later. The violin is played with the bow, NOT the left hand. The more you focus on the left hand, the slower your progress will be. Work on mastering the bow, and the left hand will take care of itself. That's a bit of an oversimplification for now, but I don't have time to expand on it. Maybe a post in the future.

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Oh that's SO true! That's what the whole Galamian school of teaching was all about, which I totally love. The right hand is never emphasized enough, but it seriously makes everything easier. Your left hand isn't the base for musicality, it's actually your right.

--mazas

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Thanks for all the tips. The room where I practice in does have a mirror where I try to watch my bowing. I look to see that my bow is parallel with the bridge; and in the correct place; I watch my bowing hand to make sure I am holding my bow properly and watch my wrist to make sure it is relaxed.

I know I have a long way to go before I can make a beautiful sound, but I am up to the challenge. Is it because I am an adult student that I watch and think about everything? I think kids are more natural and just play, where as adults, we tend to think and worry too much. It is OK though because I am certainly enjoying every part of the process of learning to play.

I have also purchased many classical recordings of various violin C.D.'s from Hillary Hahn, Stern, Kriesler, Bell, Perlman, etc. I was kind of hoping that perhaps if I keep listening to these recordings, maybe some of their beautiful sound will transfer to my playing, sort of like through osmosis. I can dream can't I?

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Even more than looking in the mirror, I would recommend watching the way your bow is in contact with the strings. It is easy to tell if your bow is straight by watching the contact point, and by watching to see if the bow stays parallel to the bridge. The problem with looking in the mirror is that it's hard to look to the side at the mirror without altering your bowing to begin with.

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yes, Yes, YES!

Bend those thumbs - absolutely

'The right elbow always held slightly lower than the wrist'. I agree, although I never mention this (although I look for it) I tend to think more in terms of gentle 'arching' across the top of the wrist.

You are definately on my wave-length !!!

Also, at what point do you feel the wrist 'drops down' to level with elbow? (as you play down bow) I've been happy to let this happen around the middle-U.H. for my students.

T_D

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Thanks Technique Doc and of course you're right in that there will be times when the wrist & elbow will parallel; your observation re the Middle - UH is spot on.

I also like to see the bow arm -elbow tracing a neat little circle as it completes its' up to downbow cycle.

I'm an advocate of dropping the BH knuckles -especially at the UH to point - so that the hair will lay flat upon the string.Result: fuller tone.

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I think it is important to listen to recordings and live performances because it helps us get a mental image of the sound we want to make. A lot of progress happens almost subconciously through the brain trying to match that ideal sound. Small, almost imperceptible, changes occur that bring our sound closer to the ideal. The brain records these subconciously reinforced changes. For this to result in continued progress, though, lessons are needed to keep us from developing bad physical habits that might make an improvement in our sound but will eventually block further progress.

Another reason for listening to recordings and live performances is that it helps intonation and sight reading. I, at least, find that if I know how a piece is "supposed" to sound it is a lot easier to play it on sight. Also, it is well-known that having a mental image of the note you want to play helps intonation, particularly in the case of large leaps into (or out of) high positions.

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Practise, practise, practise, practise. You get the idea.

Something a piano teacher once told me, that could be applied to violin or any instrument, is learn to play pieces very fast. Even if the piece itself is not fast, you should get to know it to the point of your being very comfortable playing it fast...to play it without thinking about it.

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