Progress & intonation
Hello everyone, this is my first time here.
I've been learning violin for about five months now. However, it feels like I have had the equivalent progress of a two to three months of practicing, since there were lots of breaks and my former teacher could only teach during half of each month. I'm currently at approximately 65% of Laureox I.
I would like to know of you how late I probably am if compared to where I should be with my progress.
I also have some issues about intonation:
1) when playing out of tune, should I slide my finger to the right place or take my finger off the position and put it again to reach the right intonation?
2) is playing the violin with the tuner on a good or bad idea? I realized that I do worse on tuning playing with it than without, probably because my attention gets focused on the tuner. My teacher says I should only play scales with the tuner, and I think I agree, but would like to know your opinion.
3) can I trust that getting the right intonation is just a matter of time practicing scales (and training my ear)?
You're right, intonation is a matter of training the ear and practice. It'll come with time - at 5 months I'd worry less about always being in tune and more on getting my fundamental techniques correct - that stuff is super hard to fix later.
Can't say anything about your progress, it varies from person to person, but it feels like (just from your language) that you're feeling impatient or perhaps discouraged. Maybe you're used to progressing faster at things you try or you had an expectation of yourself.
Suggestion after thought, perhaps a better exercise than a tuner at this juncture and one I used myself when first learning the scales, would be to find recorded scales and practice matching the intonation with the recording. For the amount of practice I would be willing and want to do, it would be awkward to have someone try and accompany me on a piano as I figure out my fingers, though I imagine that would be good occasional practice as well. There are many great teachers here who I'm sure will be willing to weigh in on this advice.
Let's say you are playing along, A-B-C#-B-A and you notice your second "B" is out of tune. You try it again, and still it's out of tune. Here is a technique you can learn to use to fix such intonation problems.
As to question no.1 it depends whether you are practicing or performing a piece for an audience. In the former case, you should STOP immediately upon hearing a false note. Practice in more detail the sequence of notes in question where intonation should be improved. You can also practice scales to improve intonation in general. On the other hand, when you are performing a piece for an audience (even if it is just your sister or your mother, say) and it is a long note, you can correct it by sliding. If it is a short note however you should simply forget about the intonation slip and play the next note on time, so as not to spoil the basic rhythm of the music. Enjoy the trip in violinland, it lasts a lifetime!
About question 2, it would be much better if you could recognize on your own when a scale is in tune. If you actually cannot, you should work on that, e.g., play scales on a piano in order to ingrain how they should sound, sing scales together with the piano, etc. But in a sense, this has nothing to do with violin playing. Any musician should ideally be able to distinguish out-of-tune from in tune.
Thank you for all responses!
I'm not sure how this site works, if you get notified when a new reply arrives, but I want to drop out two other questions, hoping not having to open another thread:
2. I do recommend that students use a tuner, which is why I recommend a tuner with 3 octaves of tuning pitches. It's especially helpful for keys with lots of flats and sharps.
I forgot about this but in the beginning I practiced with the tuner on all the time so I could tell if I was even playing the right note --not to mention being in tune. After all, a B and a C might both be "in tune" but only one of them is indicated by the sheet music at any given moment. I've been playing less than 3 years but already long-forgotten about that early phase --I probably did it for a few months at most. I think it helped me and if it works for you I recommend you keep doing it. As you get better, you will naturally know when you don't need it anymore. Also, I wouldn't worry about my "rate of progress" and just always work on getting better at what's in front of you. I'm teaching myself so I just keep buying sheet music and turning the pages. Technique is probably "wrong" and progress probably "behind," but I hear massive progress and feel great playing, so I'm very satisfied with my progress no matter what might be slow or wrong with it.
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