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Zlata Brouwer

FREE Video Series to Create a Beautiful Tone on the Violin and Viola

August 27, 2015 03:09

I’m so happy to share with you my free video series. It’s all about how to create a beautiful tone on the violin and viola. You can move people to tears with just one note. Click here to sign up!

I’m sure it’s inspirational and useful to you. Enjoy! Click here to sign up!

Love,

Zlata

1 reply

Book Tip: How to Find Time, Money and Energy for Playing the Violin or Viola

August 25, 2015 00:21

This episode of Violin Lounge TV might be a bit different than you are used to, but I thought it's essential to share this with you.

I will be frank with you... After ten years of violin teaching experience I can say that most people who start the violin or viola never end up playing very well. In the end they don't really have progress, lose motivation and stop. I'm really sorry to say this and I wish it was different.

The Number ONE reason why most people fail to every learn to play the violin or viola decently is because they (think they) don't have enough time to practice.

To learn to play the violin well, progress and get results all the time, you need to have:


  • Good quality violin lessons

  • A good instrument and bow

  • Daily practice time


Finding the time to practice and finding the resources to invest in your violin or viola adventure is SO essential! 

The violin is simply a difficult instrument and takes a lot of dedication, hard work, time, money and effort to learn.

Except from teaching you HOW to play the violin, this video talks about how to find the time, money and energy to play in the first place.

For me playing the violin is my job, as I'm a (more than) full-time violinist, teacher and entrepreneur. It might look like it's easy for me to find practice time.

However, practicing for myself, can also be a challenge in between the busy teaching/rehearsal schedule and all the clutter that comes with owning and running a business.

I find the book 'The 4-hour work week' by Tim Ferriss very inspiring. Of course it won't get you this 4 hour work week automatically in two weeks. Nope, I'm far away from that. You DO find some useful productivity tips in there like saying 'no' to things, being focussed, being productive and getting the most out of the time and money that you have on your hands right now.

By being more efficient and productive and getting the most of the resources you already have, you can free up time, money and energy to do the things you love.

It's important to take your life and your work into your own hands and to not be a victim of your surroundings. I write this to you in the most loving way possible. I simply see lots of people getting in their own way and I am often guilty of this too.

Of course it's not a magic wand or a 'get rich quick' scheme... I would never recommend scam to you. There are people really doing this (better than the workaholic that I am). I met lots of them in the Digital Nomad Conference I attended in Berlin.

I hope this will help you! I hope you will be able to free up some time, money and energy to play the violin or viola more, so you can enjoy making music on a deeper level for years to come.

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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Viola Size Guide: What Size Viola is Ideal for You?

August 18, 2015 03:29

It can be really confusing what size viola to choose. This video will help you find out which size viola is ideal for you.

With violins it’s a bit easier. Violin sizes start with 1/16 (or sometimes smaller) up to 4/4. Everything smaller than the adult size 4/4 is considered a children’s size (or fractional size). Except from the 7/8 ‘lady’s violin’ that is slightly smaller than the 4/4 size violin.

When you are an adult starter on the violin, picking the size is quite easy. Go for a 4/4 except if you have short arms or think a 7/8 is more comfortable to play on.

For the viola there is not really a standard adult size. 

Viola sizes are always noted in inches (2,54 cm). The size of the body determines the size of the viola.

There are children size viola’s available that are the same size or smaller as a 4/4 violin. However, they are built differently than violins. They sound different caused by the the way they are built, the strings and the tuning. Mainly the body is a bit thicker, so the resonance box has more capacity to create the typical viola sound.

For example: a 13 inch viola has the same size as 3/4 violin and a 12 inch viola has the same size as a 1/2 violin.

14 Inch viola’s are a bit special: they are the exact same size as a 4/4 violin. They are used as a children’s size originally. They are also used as an easy way for violinists to play viola: the distances between the fingers are the same.

The most regular viola sizes are 15 and 16 inch. For large people viola’s even come in bigger sizes: 17 and 18 inch... Almost a small cello!

A 16 inch viola gives a more cello size full sound and is the size people choose most. It’s still easy to play and to handle, even if you aren’t very tall. Some of my viola students even tell me their 16 inch viola plays easier than a 15 inch.

Choosing the size of the viola is very personal. If you are tall it doesn’t mean you have to play on a very large viola.

In the video I show you a way to check if a viola really isn’t too big for you. Put the viola on your shoulder, stretch your arm and put your hand around the scroll of the viola. When holding the viola in this way your arm should be able to be slightly curved. If you really have to stretch your arm and can hardly fetch the scroll, the viola really is too big for you.

Besides from the maximum size described above, you can pick any size you want. Just try different sizes out, listen to the sound and feel how the playing feels to you and if it’s comfortable.

I hope I have enlightened you a bit about those confusing viola sizes.

 

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!

3 replies

How To Position Your Left Thumb and Relax Your Hand on the Violin and Viola

August 13, 2015 01:13

In this episode I'm going to answer a question from one of our viewers:

Hi Zlata!
I have just bought your Violin Lounge TV DVD box and it’s fantastic – I’ve learned a LOT already and the episodes you have done on how ability progresses (thinking you’re getting worse, when really your ear is just improving faster than your technique etc) have been particularly helpful.

Especially as being an adult learner can sometimes be discouraging, we expect progress faster than is really possible. I know that I definitely expect way too much from myself sometimes, so it’s wonderful to have you making videos explaining why it’s not just me who struggles occasionally. So THANK YOU VERY MUCH! =)

I do have a question for you though… I have been playing violin for almost a year now, and am just starting to get past the point where everything is completely new, and I’m getting more comfortable and familiar with my instrument. I’ve noticed now that I’m starting to play songs that are a little bit more difficult and faster- that I tend to get cramps in my left thumb while playing.

I know that probably means that I’m squeezing too hard with my thumb, but I can’t seem to get enough leverage to push down properly on the strings without also pushing in with my thumb.

Do you have any advice?

Kel =)



It can be that you are squeezing your thumb too much. The issue might also be that you have your thumb in a position that it gets tensed.

You have to know there is a connection between your pinky and your thumb. I don't know the medical term, but these two fingers are related to each other.

The ease with which you play with the 4th finger highly depends on the position of your thumb.

In the video I show that when you place your thumb under the neck of the violin, it causes a lot of tension in the ball of your thumb.

Every wrong basic technique on the violin or viola will bother you more as the speed and difficulty of the pieces you play increase. You will be challenged more. Problems will arise you didn't have in easier pieces.

The way to place your thumb in a way it can stay relaxed is to place it:


  • opposite your index finer (1st finger)

  • opposite your middle finger (2nd finger)

  • in between these fingers


None of them is better than the other. It differs per person what they like most.

Doing this the violin must be a bit in your hand, so you can let your fingers fall on the string in a curved position. Your fingers will have more space and don't have to stretch. This will benefit your intonation.

Some people wonder if your thumb should be visible above the fingerboard. This depends on the length of your thumb and the shape of your hand.

Don't let the violin rest in between your thumb and index finger without leaving a 'mouse hole' under the neck of the violin. This will block the movement of your left hand.

Your elbow should be right under the violin pointing to the floor. In the video I demonstrate some different positions.

Kel mentions she can’t seem to get enough leverage to push down her fingers properly on the strings without also pushing in with her thumb. When I'm playing I have the feeling that with my left arm I can hang on the violin. I don't feel like I have to hold the violin up. You can achieve this by having a relaxed violin hold that is not too much up and not too much to the left.

To implement these tips, start with an easy piece and feel the change and relaxation. After you are used to this, slowly apply it to more difficult pieces.

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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Can Your Child (or You) Start Playing the Viola without Playing the Violin First?

August 4, 2015 02:20

Lots of people think that you have to play violin first, before they can play the viola.

The reasons why they think this are:


  • Viola’s are not available in fractional sizes

  • You need to have some basic skills on the violin before you can start playing the viola


Both statements are not true. I will explain this in a minute...

First I want to point out that the choice of your instrument is crucial for the joy you’ll have (or won’t have) in making music. Some people think that before playing the violin you have to play piano or recorder or have to be able to sing or have to attend a general music class. This can really ruin your motivation for music. Don’t start with an ‘easier’ instrument first.

When you want to play the violin, just start with playing the violin. That’s the best way to learn to play violin :). Sounds logical, does it? All the general music subjects can be weaved into a violin lesson.

When you want to start with viola, get yourself a real viola. For children: Choose a fractional sized viola and not a violin with viola strings on it. It will have the tuning of the viola, but not the typical sound. In the video I show you the difference. You should see them as two different instruments.

There are fractional sized warm and deep sounding viola’s available. Don’t let a teacher or luthier tell you that they don’t exist.

You don’t need basic skills on the violin, when you want to play viola in the end. Just as you don’t need to play other instruments before you start with the violin, you also don’t need to play the violin or other instruments before you start with the viola.

Of course, when you happen to have some basic skills on the violin already, they come in really handy. It’s easy to switch from violin to viola or the other way around.

Choose the instrument that you love. It’s really important.

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!

3 replies

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