An introduction and a couple questionsTechnique and Practicing: My name is Draco Rat - I'm 33 and just started learning the violin.
From Draco Rat
My name is Draco Rat - I'm 33 and just started learning the violin. First, a little background:
I have a daughter and a son. My daughter just started middle school this year and when she did, I was reviewing all of her first week paperwork and she had a paper wherein she could sign up for orchestra. She didn't have it in a stack of papers she was planning on turning in so I asked her about it. I asked "Hey - orchestra! I was in band in school and it was a lot of fun. Are you sure you don't want to be in the orchestra?" I played the valve trombone for 5 years.
She said "Yeah, but I would like to play the violin. But you said the violin was hard." I had said that once when we were watching a Lindsey Stirling video and she was dancing around and playing at the same time. Most of her vids are recorded and then the music is professionally added afterward, but some of her videos are au naturale (in regards to the dubbing vs live sound). I had said it was hard dancing around and using the violin at the same time. Not that I knew from experience, but I knew it had to be.
At any rate I said "Well it's only through the performance of hard things do we really feel like we have accomplished something." And I encouraged that if she were truly interested, she should join.
She did. And rented a violin. She brought it home and that weekend, I sat down with her since she had met once with her school teacher and had her show me what she learned. It wasn't much of course, so I also had her start with some of the lessons at the front of the book. She wasn't really interested in Dad working with her, but I did anyway.
When she got tired of "Dad" to the point she wanted to do something else, I picked up her violin. And tried the first few exercises.
I've always loved the sound of the violin. But I never really fell in love with the violin until that moment.
That moment was three weeks ago. On the Monday following, I went and rented a violin of my own.
Nightly I play between 2 and 4 hours. I dream of going home to play while I work. I talk about it. I listed to other violinists on youtube.
I would like to get to the point where I can play lively violin music for family gatherings and friends and most of all, for myself.
I am doing whatever I can do learn right now. I can't afford an instructor right now, so I'm self-teaching with the use of the book and also by watching a lot of youtube videos and reading a lot of sites. I have read most of this one including all discussions that ever included the words "beginner" or "technique". That's been about a two-week effort so far (reading this site).
I have discovered that I don't really "dig" classical music. I like upbeat, happy-go-lucky type of music. And through the wonders of youtube I've discovered that there are a number of celtic or Irish tunes that seem to be right up my alley. Eventually. Because today, I can barely make it through the watered down versions of "Ode to Joy" and the like without major errors.
As far as practicing goes though, the book seems to be a bit less structured than I'd like. It goes through "Here's a new note" fine enough but I really feel like I need some sort of instruction (on the cheap for now) that will say "Once you can do this this and this, you're ready for what's next". I do practice a lot of the same music in order to perfect it but I feel more like I'm not so much as learning as I am just going through the motions. I need something measurable.
Any recommendations for a good starter's course for self-paced learners?
Also, I think there's a problem with my bow. Maybe there's not. But it squeals quite a bit when I play near the middle of the bow. I can sound notes all day at the frog or tip and I can sound notes in between only if I have rosined within the last couple of minutes. But after just a little practice, the squealing returns. Maybe it's me.
But how do I tell if it's just me?
Get an instructor, I know. I don't have that option for now.
At any rate, thanks for letting me detail my violin aspirations here and I look forward to growing with this instrument. I have after all, fallen heads-over-heels for it.
From Kitty JinggaThere is an art to write simply.
Posted on August 17, 2012 at 10:47 AM
What is your question again?
From Smiley HsuHey Draco,
Posted on August 17, 2012 at 11:32 AM
I love the name. Wow, that's fantastic that you have found a new passion. There are several web sites with free violin instruction. Here are two that come to mind.
That should give you plenty to think about for a while. Good luck.
From Kathryn WoodbyI love this!!! :)
Posted on August 17, 2012 at 12:40 PM
Smiley's suggestions come well-recommended; I agree that would be a good place to start.
Best to you!
From John CaddKitty be nice to our new guest. He writes very well. Irish tunes are a fantastic source of music. Many are just 4 or 5 lines long to be repeated as you like. Learn to beat time with your foot.
Posted on August 17, 2012 at 01:02 PM
From N.A. MohrFiddle tunes and folk tunes...all are lots of fun to play. I play classical, but attended a fiddle workshop last week...just for the fun of it (and some added ear training, lol).
Posted on August 17, 2012 at 01:54 PM
Regardless of the type of music you play, I still strongly suggest you get at least one lesson with a teacher to show you what's what. It really is best to have 'real life' instruction to make sure you're not doing anything wrong or in danger of forming any truly bad (limiting) habits right off the the bat.
And as far as regular lessons go...you don't have to go for an hour a week. Even 1/2 hour every two weeks would be very useful. Or one lesson a month. Try and budget for that, you'll move along a lot faster overall.
From james holmesHello Draco,
Posted on August 17, 2012 at 03:29 PM
I have somewhat the same background as you. Though I did have lessons before going rogue on my own. Not by choice but dictated by finances also.
You will reach a plateau eventually so your sound, skill, and confidence may never mature to it's fullest. This is personally what I experinced.
I have started lessons again recently about 2 months ago. Was discourange at 1st since the teacher quickly started to change things here and there. Though humbling it seems that it is helping me.
My lessons are only every other week. This makes it affordable and gives me time to practise. Going every week is too speedy for my lifestyle so this works out nice.
When you are ready to find teacher good luck. But learning on your own isn't a bad thing--just that you may never experience the finer details of playing or the needed feedback.
From Draco RatThank you all for the well wishes. Thanks for those site links (Smiley!)- I'll be delving in to them!
Posted on August 17, 2012 at 03:34 PM
And I do plan on eventually getting regular lessons - I just had a bad run of bills I haven't dug out of yet.
N.A - I will as soon as I can fit one in to the budget. And I'll make fitting it in to the budget priority!
Once again thanks for welcoming me to your community and I love reading this site and discussions so I look forward to more. =)
From Mary HellerHi Draco,
Posted on August 19, 2012 at 01:24 AM
I second the recommendations for Violin Masterclass and Todd Ehle. You mentioned Irish music and as I take lessons in Irish fiddle obviously I think it's great music! Not only the jigs and reels but some really lovely slow airs and laments exist in the tradition.
You could do worse than buying Matt Cranitch's "Irish Fiddle Book" with the accompanying CD. It's structured for beginners - but you do need to know your way around the instrument before working with it. It costs about $25 - be sure to get the edition with the CD.
From Draco RatMary - thanks for the book recommendation, I'm definitely going to grab it. Also that violinist master site that was linked above is totally awesome. I'm working on things from it.
Posted on August 20, 2012 at 04:07 PM
I also had a great practice with my daughter this last weekend. Now that she's getting some of the basics down - sitting straight, holding the bow etc, we played some songs together. Simple ones - like "Row your boat" but the fun of playing them together was completely exciting for the both of us and we both had broad smiles the whole time.
And finally, thanks again everyone for your warm welcomes!
From Christie HughesDraco...
Posted on September 4, 2012 at 02:56 PM
With the exception of a daughter taking violin lessons, I could have written your initial letter...word for word. I'm in my 40's and have always wanted to play the violin. As a child, I took piano, clarinet and acoustic guitar lessons...so have some music background and am able to read music. This past Christmas, I bought myself a violin with the desire to learn it. Like you, I can't really afford lessons right now, so am relying heavily on the internet. I purchased Level I books through Amazon which have been great at teaching me the notes, but as you said...I need the "what now" part...the guidance, so to speak.
Other sites you may want to check out are ViolinLab.com and RedDesertViolin.com. Both are affordable, but also offer free introductory lessons on their sites as well as YouTube. ViolinLab is my favorite ($42.97 for 6 months with no auto-renewal, which is nice) and Beth Blackerby, the instructor, is always available via email to answer your questions. Her videos are great and she focuses on one thing at a time.
The main thing I've learned (so far) is to relax and don't rush yourself. At first, I was in a hurry to learn everything...to the point where I was going in 10 different directions. I had to pull back and focus on one thing at a time. First I learned the notes. Then I focused on straight bow, bow hold, and intonation. Now I'm focusing on working in 8th notes. It's hard, my fingertips are sore, but I'm loving my progress.
Good luck to you, and please keep us posted (I'll do the same).
PS... I discovered the receptionist where I work is a violinist for a local symphony. WOW! Jackpot! I started picking her brain and she's offered to give me monthly or bi-monthly lessons for free. So...start asking around. There may be an experienced violinist closer than you think who would be willing to help you.
From Smiley HsuI love hearing stories of adult beginners. My hat is off to you for finding the time and the motivation for taking up a difficult instrument. Good luck and enjoy the journey.
Posted on September 4, 2012 at 05:51 PM
From Roy SonneI second Christie's recommendation of Violinlab. It's got a wealth of good material, pedagogically clear and solid, and geared to people on your level. And of course, I'm a great fan of Professor V. aka Todd Ehle -- on a slightly more advanced level. By all means, keep us posted.
Posted on September 5, 2012 at 04:48 AM
Revisit Violinist.com editor Laurie Niles' coverage from Canada of the 2013 Montreal International Musical Competition, including her interview with gold medalist Marc Bouchkov.
Please consider supporting Violinist.com by becoming a sponsor, and reaching our dedicated community of violin professionals, students and fans!