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What am I doing wrong?


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I am hoping to get several opinions. I've been taking lessons for a

year now. I feel like I should be playing better. The tone seems

not too good. My teachers says otherwise.  He says that the

sound is improving and am doing really good.That the more I

practice the better it will sound. But i'm not too sure. I’ve

attached a sound sample. Please give me your honest opinion.



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Probably nothing wrong. (Generally speaking) I check myself the basics. (1) Intonation (2) time value of each note (3) rhythm when I practice even now.

Tune the violin perfectly first each time. (if needed, use e-electronic tuner tune the open notes),

(not to check intonation) There is no bad sound out from a well-tune violin I know.

Check my bow, (buy a new bow if needed), not too much rosin, chinest comfortable?, bow hold (correct ?.)

Play something like Suzuki book 2, (or similar, no bad piece there for sure ), easy pieces. Play each piece with confidence. My attitude is " notning to it". Good luck.

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I was afraid to check you link too, but I can tell you that one year of playing isn't much at all when it comes to tone, intonation, etc. If you teacher says you are on track then unless he is a total hack (which I doubt), then don't worry about it. I didn't feel like I sounded decent until I had been playing at least FIVE years! I've been at it for 12 and am back to feeling like I sound lousy, but that's another story!

Or simply put: Learning the violin is not for the impatient of temperament!!

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I didn't hear the sound sample for the earlier explained reason.

But I'm wondering if your expectations were far too high? In that case everything sounds bad. Only one year of playing is not so much. You'll see that the progress goes in stages. Suddenly there is an enormous step forward and than it takes a long time where apperently there is no improvement.

That's the normal way it goes. So, dont worry! Keep going and practice!

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for some reason, i had no trouble at with opening your clip! maybe

you changed it so it worked better?

i can certainly relate to how you feel! i have been playing for

about 8 months now, and am perpetually frustrated with my progress!

i feel i work pretty hard, but i don't seem to get much

improvement... i don't understand why i still can't hit those

same friggin' notes i've been playing for all those months! it

really slows me down when i'm trying to learn something new,

because the stuff i should already know gets in the way of working

on the new thing! plus i hate the way i sound, too...

like you, my teacher says i am doing fine, that i expect too much,

that it takes a *lot* of time for most people to progress (she

always says that adult beginners are much more difficult to teach

than children because they understand how it should sound and

compare how they sound to that!)

so my point is (not to minimize your frustration at!), i think how

you feel is pretty typical for all of us (except those stinking

prodigies!   , and really the only thing you are

doing wrong is not giving yourself enough time and not being

accepting enough of your playing (my teacher tells me this a lot,


i hope this helps?

hang in there!


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The link is quite healthy, and the good news is that your playing is too.

You have a steady and strong sound which is a good start.

You are listening and achieving the correct intonation generally,

apart from the "wander" at the end of your recording

What tunes are you playing? That can make all the difference.

Streaming audio "safe" link from here.

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I think that your tone is very good after only 1 year of playing, keep it up! and try not to expect too much from yourself, sure there are people out there who have gotten further in 1 year than you have, so what? Everyone is different and everyone progresses at a different rate, you'll get there eventually, try to enjoy the journey instead of worrying about your progress and how it compares to other's and where you think you "should" be. Good Luck!

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The sound clip sounds sounds pretty good for someone only playing for a year. But that has nothing to do with tone. You play long, pretty solid notes that are intonated well. The upside to your own distaste of the tone you're getting, is that you can already tell the difference in what you're playing and the sound in your head of "what it should sound like". Without knowing what a good sound should be, you may never be able to produce it well. Now, forget about what you sound like and concentrate on the important things like intonation and bowing technique - I'm sure real violinists can tell you better what the really important things are - and the sound will come as you get comfortable with the instrument and get a better grip on dynamics and vibrato, etc... The tone will come, if you have an instrument that able to achieve it.

BTW, I'm not commenting on the tone of your clip and more taking your own oppinion of the tone. Clips can be inaccurate and misleading so I'm told.

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I am not professional, but as some one who spent a lot time and effort on how to reach a decent tone, I can say you are doing fine. You need to build more confidence with bowing. Full, steady bowing in the same manner in your clip, later close to frog(hill?) a lot of bowing half, quarter, or staccoto, If have time make this 2-3 hours every day, till you fell the bow as an extension of you right hand. Dont worry for the bad sound, It will go away at the end, finally you will start to hear and feel the booming tone when the bow really starts to work.

I am afraid in general alot of emphasis is given on left hand mean while right is ignored a little bit.

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The tone quality and intonation on your audio clip are quite good for somebody who has only been playing a year. I think you have every reason to feel happy with your progress in those areas and to expect that you will continue to progress in those areas. And remember -- we never arrive. We always continue to refine and improve our tone quality and intonation. Just to put it inperspective, I have been playing the violin for over 50 years. I am a member of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Every day I practice for tone quality and intonation. Welcome to the club!

That being said, there is a lot more to playing the violin. In order to get a sense of where you are in your violinistic development I would want to hear you play some music -- preferably two or three selections in different tempos. I would want to know about your counting and about your rhythm. I would want to know about your fluency reading music. I would want to know about your proficiency with different kinds of bowings. I would want to know about your left hand proficiency in getting around the instrument with ease and security, and I would want to know where you are in your journey towards expressing yourself musically. Finally I would want to know if you are enjoying the time you spend playing the violin.

If you want some additional follow-up to your original question, please let us know what materials you are using, which method books, etc. and where you are in them.

Very best wishes for violinistic growth and enjoyment.


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Thanks to everyone for their responses. I am currently using the

Rubank Elementary Violin Method and Suzuki Book 2 on the side for

the songs. I listen to a lot of classical music and I guess I am

expecting myself to sound like the professional players

style=" text-decoration: underline;">someday

. I really love

the violin and its the instrument I always wanted to play since I

was a child. Music is my relaxation after a stressed day at work.

But I guess I also get frustrated because I also play the

piano, which I have been playing for years,  and I can read

the music and understand how its supposed to be played.  

Thanks again to everyone for their responses.

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Two suggestions if you are unsatisfied with your playing - even though you should not be, but a certain amount of dissatisfaction is good because it can lead to improvement. One: instead of, or as well as, listening to recordings of violin playing, listen to your violin. Not yourself - your violin. There is a subtle difference. Every time you hear a tone that you love, dwell on it, try to catch it - how is that tone coming about? You will begin being more in tune with your instrument. Secondly, ask your teacher to give you just one suggestion on how you might improve your playing. However trivial your teacher's suggestion may be, follow it and see where it leads. Then ask for another suggestion, and another.

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"--Secondly, ask your teacher to give you just one suggestion on how you might improve your playing. However trivial your teacher's suggestion may be, follow it and see where it leads. Then ask for another suggestion, and another. --"

I think the teacher is already supposed to do that, or doing it. I dont know why,

when I close my eyes when playing, I detect intonation mistakes more easy. I catch intonation mistakes immediately, when listenening my recordings, almost the same effect as closing eyes.

But It seems to me improving bowing will improve alot of things.

I may be wrong, I am just an amateur.

Keep bowing..

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Selim is right on the money. Tone is all about the right hand/arm. Many think it has to do with vibrato...but vibrato is really only the sprinkles on the frosting of a cake. Vibrato isn't even the frosting. Forget the left hand, one should be able to play an open string at a professional level....and if it's not at that level...keep on working on the right hand/arm technique till one can...

There is nothing mystical about producing great tone either. It's all about the correct technique. I've heard beginners with better tone than some college violin majors...simply because they were shown the proper way of producing it. Too many students are too concerned with the left hand...when it's all about the right hand.

in regards to the right hand...

flat bowhair, right up against the bridge (sounding point)...and WAYYYYY MORE BOW. all motion coming from the upper arm... flat bowhand as well.

that's how to produce TONE.

in regards to the left hand...

keep the left hand fingers down. one needs to establish distance relationships from one note to the next...and that's only possible if all the fingers are kept down. it's all about the frame of the left hand.

in regards to vibrato...

"working" at vibrato is a misconception. vibrato is a release...it is not an effort. vibrato happens when the hand and fingers are so loose...that the hand will fall back (away)...seemingly on its own accord. and if the hand falls away, it will naturally bounce back to its original position...like the bouncing of a ball. there really is no muscular effort involved.

unfortunately concepts such as producing a great tone are virtually impossible to teach with text alone, it has to be shown and demonstrated...

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Hehe, sometimes I play the music but not the notes (that are there)!

Con Ritmo - could you extrapolate on two of your points?

When you write of a "flat" bowhand - do you mean in relationship to the forearm i.e. not "swanned"?

Re: "motion coming from the upper arm". Could you explain what you mean by that? You don't mean the "bowing from the shoulder" that everyone tries to avoid as a beginner, and this is different from the idea of the forearm pivoting at the elbow which it still would do. How does the motion come from the upper arm?

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