July 13, 2013 at 2:40 PMA good violinist can play in tune on an untuned violin...
Tune your violin every time your practice... but don't be to rigid about playing on an untuned violin.
If you are performing, you can't tune your violin every 5 minutes. Your intonation should be flexible and your practice hours should prepare you on performance.
Please let me know what you think in the comments below!
Violinist and Skype violin teacher at Violin Lounge
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I split my practice time among three fiddles -- about an hour per day on each instrument. All three have steel E strings. Two have wound gut for A-D-G; the third has composite cores.
I'm in the American Southeast, where there's a good deal of hot, humid weather. Even a little bit of air circulation makes a practice session much better. A compact floor fan on the low setting, about 20 feet from me, helps to keep perspiration from building up on my hands.
One of the most frustrating that I see all the time at student recitals is watching the student on stage having trouble tuning his/her violin, getting frustrated because (s)he knows the audience is waiting, and then starting to play with his/her violin still out of tune. Students should spend five minutes a day just practicing tuning until they've got it, and they should have Wittner tailpieces with all four fine tuners built right in until they can tune quickly and reliably with the pegs. My daughter's first full size violin will be taken immediately to the luthier for gear pegs.
But in case of beginners or students I think it is very important that the violin is in tune itself and that they hear the open strings and pure fifths in tune.
I tune at the beginning of the practice (the child is not ready for it yet, once she graduates to bigger size she will be instructed to do so), and after five-minute playing I retune again - the E string usually goes up a little and A string goes down a little (whether the reason is breathing, bow pressure I do not know); we are not talking about big changes, it is touching the fine tuner a little; another check after 20 minutes, after that the strings are stable for the whole time they are played. (The strings are not old, it is their normal behaviour). I am not bothered by fine tuning twice or three times during practice - it provides breaks.
As for double stops, my intonation isn't quite perfect; I'm still working on listening closely enough to figure out which finger to adjust, and that comes in handy if the violin is out of tune (which also gives me incentive to stay away from open strings).
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