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Zlata Brouwer

12 Tips to Play in Tune on the Violin or Viola (5 to 8)

March 26, 2015 01:03

This video is the second of three videos about playing in tune on the violin or viola. In these three videos I give you the 12 most important tips to play in tune.

One could probably write books for of information about this topic and create loads of DVD boxes. In these three videos I present the tip of the iceberg.

Playing in tune, also called ‘intonation’, is one of the most difficult topics of violin and viola technique. In the beginning the fingerboard can look like a great unknown universe. 

Besides that we have to adjust continuously to our musical environment. Intonation is different when you play with a pianist, in a piano trio, in a string quartet or in an orchestra.

If you haven’t watched the first video, click here.

Here are another four tips:

5) Analyze and study transitions separately. 

The most important in playing music is the difference between two notes. How do you go from one note to the other?

This is different for different pieces and different fingerings. Do you shift position or do you stay in the same position? How does it work? What are your fingers doing? Should it be slow or fast? How will you place your finger?

6) Compare a lot with open strings.

The first comparison you make with open strings is the G that you play with the third finger on the D string with the open G string. To be able to hear a clean octave, you need to bow on both strings. Doing this you will clearly hear if the note you play is out of tune or in tune.

Integrate this in your practice routine. Constantly check yourself.

7) Listen to the resonance in your violin.

When you play in tune your violin will resonate better. You can see this very clearly when you play a first finger on the G string (the A). When you play an A that is in tune, the A string will start resonating. You can even hear the A string.

The open sound of a well resonating violin is very beautiful. Look for this when you are practicing.

8) Listen to yourself very critically.

After playing over twenty years I sometimes catch myself making this mistake.

Some people are so busy reading notes and improving their technique, that they forget to really listen to what they are playing. In this way the don’t catch themselves making mistakes.

Be your own teacher. Most of us play a lot more outside the lesson than inside the lesson. This means that you have to be able to correct yourself to have progress.

Is this video helpful to you? Please let me know in the comments below! If you like it, share it with your friends!

Love,

Zlata

PS: Do you have questions or struggles on violin or viola playing? Post a comment below or send an e-mail to info@violinlounge.com and I might dedicate a Violin Lounge TV episode to answering your question!

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How to Straighten the Bridge of Your Violin or Viola and Prevent Damage

March 19, 2015 01:11

One day a customer walked into my violin shop. She was panicked, because the bridge of the violin had fallen down and damaged both the bridge and the violin. This happened right before she went on stage to perform.

This is what happens when you tune a lot, but you don’t check if the bridge is standing up straight.

In this case the reparation was quite easy, but the damage can be worse.

When you tune your violin, it’s important to check if the bridge is standing up straight and adjust it if it isn’t. Luckily this is easy to learn. 

BTW: When you are looking for a video that teaches you how to tune your violin, check out these:

How to Tune Your Violin or Viola with an Electronic Tuner (or app)

How (and WHY?) to Tune Your Violin with a Tuning Fork?

You might already know that the bridge is not glued onto your violin or viola. When it would be, it wouldn’t be able to transfer the vibrations (sound) from your strings to the soundboard. Glue would block the vibrations and work like a mute.

This means the bridge has to stand loose on the violin or viola. 

When you are tuning, the strings can pull the bridge on it’s toes or on it’s heels.

Check this with your own violin or viola. You can see that the bridge is not straight by looking for a space between the feet of the bridge and the soundboard. Also the back of the bridge is not straight up. The back of the bridge should make a straight corner with the soundboard. Don’t mind the little belly the bridge on the front.

When the bridge is standing on it’s toes or heels, it means it cannot properly transfer the vibrations from the strings to the soundboard. Worst of all it that it can fall down and cause damage!

As their is quite some pressure of the strings on the bridge, the bridge will go with a bang! With this the tailpiece and the finetuners will hit the soundboard and the soundpost can fall down because of the sudden release of pressure on the soundboard.

When you straighten your bridge, grab it with both hands. When you gently push it, the bridge will easily go in it’s feet again. You will feel it when the bridge is on it’s place. It feels stabilized and can’t be moved very easily.

Certainly when you have to tune a lot, make sure to check your bridge often.

Is this video helpful to you? Please let me know in the comments below! If you like it, share it with your friends!

Love,

Zlata

PS: Do you have questions or struggles on violin or viola playing? Post a comment below or send an e-mail to info@violinlounge.com and I might dedicate a Violin Lounge TV episode to answering your question!

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12 Tips to Play in Tune on the Violin or Viola (1 to 4)

March 12, 2015 01:48

This video is the first of three videos about playing in tune on the violin or viola. In these three videos I give you the 12 most important tips to play in tune.

One could probably write books for of information about this topic and create loads of DVD boxes. In these three videos I present the tip of the iceberg.

Playing in tune, also called ‘intonation’, is one of the most difficult topics of violin and viola technique. In the beginning the fingerboard can look like a great unknown universe.

Besides that we have to adjust continuously to our musical environment. Intonation is different when you play with a pianist, in a piano trio, in a string quartet or in an orchestra.

Here are the first four tips:

1) Imagine the notes you are about to play.

When there is a note you are not able to reach time after time, try to hear this note in your head like you can imagine a familiar tune.

The ear commands and the hand follows.

Violin playing is not just a motor skill. You have to know what you want to play and sometimes your hands will follow like magic. 

When you play a note out of tune time after time, it often means you can’t imagine how this note should sound. It’s not about ‘not having the note in your fingers’.

Exercise: Try this technique out with a certain piece. Look at the notes, imagine the sound in your head and then play them. Is the note you play the same as the note you imagined? Which one is correct? What is the difference?

2) Practice scales.

Scales help you improve your feeling of tonality, your intonation and your bowing technique. Scales are a play ground where you can practice several techniques separate from specific pieces and other techniques.

On all levels there are several ways to practice scales. Consider buying a scale book that fits your current level and needs.

3) Know what you play.

When teaching my private students I see a lot that people can’t  make a good translation from the notes in a certain key with sharps and flats to specific fingerings. See for yourself if you really understand if and why you need to play for example a low or high finger or what position you have to play in. This really solves a lot of intonation problems.

Don’t coincidently drop your fingers somewhere and see if it’s right. After some bars you have the feeling that it’s not right, but you don’t really understand what goes wrong exactly and how to solve it. 

Exercise: It will get you great results when you look at the piece and imagine the fingers on the fingerboard (kinesthetically and/or visually). Also understand what the note names are and why they are what they are.

4) Analyze how you place your fingers.

This one is highly personal, because everybody has different hands, fingers and motor skills.

For example for me: I play a low fourth finger with a round pinky, a normal fourth finger with a slightly curved pinky (somewhere between round and flat) and a high fourth finger with an almost flat pinky. This differs depending on the position I play in and depending on the notes before the note I have to play.

Knowing how I place my fingers, gives me more certainty about my intonation. 

Some people tell you you have to keep your fourth finger always round or always flat. You can do both depending on the note you play and how you can hit it in tune.

Please implement these tips when you are practicing!

Is this video helpful to you? Please let me know in the comments below! If you like it, share it with your friends!

Love,

Zlata

PS: Do you have questions or struggles on violin or viola playing? Post a comment below or send an e-mail to info@violinlounge.com and I might dedicate a Violin Lounge TV episode to answering your question!

2 replies

Nr 1 Mistake in Practicing the Violin or Viola

March 5, 2015 08:19

This episode of Violin Lounge TV is about the Nr 1 mistake people make in practicing the violin or viola...

People don’t really know what practicing is and because of that... they don’t really practice.

I will give you some tips to make your practice time more efficient and effective.

When you start to play the violin or viola, you can play the tunes in your book almost right away. Perhaps at this point your practice consists of playing through the piece three times.

When you play piece, you are playing... not really practicing. You are not focussed on a specific subject. Subjects could be for example bowing, rhythm, intonation or tone.

In the video I demonstrate how people practice without focus and fight themselves through the notes time after time and think they are done practicing.

In the video I also demonstrate how to practice focussed on a specific aspect of your playing and on a tiny fragment of your piece: chords, bowing, timing, rhythm, variations, side exercises etc.

In the end you can play through the piece as part of practicing. This is to bring all the pieces together and to see how the piece has improved is a whole.

When you really want to improve, focus on the specific aspect and/or fragment you want to improve on. After improving, try to fit it into the whole piece.

Is this video helpful to you? Please let me know in the comments below! If you like it, share it with your friends!

Love,

Zlata

PS: Do you have questions or struggles on violin or viola playing? Post a comment below or send an e-mail to info@violinlounge.com and I might dedicate a Violin Lounge TV episode to answering your question!

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Zlata Brouwer is from Hilversum, Netherlands. Biography

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