My progress so far as a self-taught violinist. (2 month)
It's been 2 months since I first picked up the violin and looking back on my first day in the music store (when my mother was laughing because I was making dying cow sounds) I really feel like I've come a long way. What's even more exciting is that it's only been 2 months so that there are more things to understand.
I posted my 1 month progress here and got some really good advice so, I decided to do it again. Here's my progress since a month ago.
I've understood the third position and can play some notes in it.
Intonation isn't the best but it's improving. I won't attempt vibrato until it gets somewhat close to 'good enough'.
Third finger has strengthened so I'm starting to play fourth finger notes instead of open strings so that my pinky stops acting 'special'. XD
I can play 'Ode to joy' pretty good now and so I've started 'He's a pirate' which (I know) is a fast paced difficult song but I'm learning the beginner/easy version. The reason being that the constant note changing from one string to the other is good exercise.
I've let go of practicing for a specific amount of time and instead I practice when I have time or when I want to or when I feel a rush of energy. The average time that I've practiced in the last month (because of the above mention reason) is approx. 2 hours a day. And this is not constantly me playing for 2 hours, I just pick up my violin more than once a day but sometimes I keep practicing for long when I'm having a lot of fun and I don't want to stop. Other times when I don't feel like playing at all I only do a few exercises.
I can play the intro to Canon in D efficiently and a few measures after that since I'm taking my time to sing the notes, understand them and play them. i'm moving one measure at a time. Meaning that until I get it right I won't move on to the next measure.
I've also started Crystallize which some of you might think I'm being really ambitious but really I'm only practicing that one when I get bored and want to understand trickier notes.
'Aloette' is a simple song but I keep forgetting the notes and what it's supposed to sound like so it's sounds a video buffering. :P
I've also decided to do straight-bowing exercises before starting any piece.
Also, I've made "Don't stop practicing when you get it right, stop practicing when you can't get it wrong" my practice motto.
What do you think? Is this okay for as an average for a 2 month old beginner? Anything I should add? Any exercises that you recommend?
P.S. I'm using the violinspiration song book as a guide for now.
P.S.S. This is the link to my last thread: http://www.violinist.com/discussion/thread.cfm?page=1301
Just in case you might want to compare.
Please and thank you.
"Is this okay for as an average for a 2 month old beginner? "
@Peter Charles That's not what I meant! Sorry I wasn't clear enough! By "2 month old" I meant playing for 2 months; not the age.
I know - I was just teasing you! It's English humour and comes with a health warning!
Sounds reasonable, except most people don't usually do 3rd position after 2 months of playing. Focus on sounding good.
Your progress seems AMAZING. I have about the same amount of time in playing violin as you (this past month, plus a couple months-ish a few years ago) and I'm honestly still primarily playing scales and drilling on open strings because I keep hitting hitting two strings at a time! Not for the entire duration of the note, but generally just a squeak as I switch, but it's SO frustrating because I can't seem to improve. In fact, sometimes I'm worried that by practicing string changes over and over, I'm just training myself to do it incorrectly more efficiently.
Yes, everyone learns differently, Kate. Make sure that you aren't overtensing your bow arm and hand, and try to keep your string crossing motions as small, quick, and precise as possible without overtensing. Have you used tapes or markers on your violin?
Don't listen to Charles. If tapes help you, use them. If they don't, then don't use them.
Don't listen to Williams. Any teacher who put tapes on for my kid's fingerboards I would have sacked immediately. It's a recipe for bad intonation.
Ha. Such a strong opinion!
Using a drone is very good for ear training. You can use an open string as well as this will show up any notes that are off pitch. And as for the use of markers/tapes you will have to decide who to believe. We all have to do this with many things and live by the consequences.
Well, I'm certainly no teacher, but I really doubt a few glances at fingerboard markers in my first few months will do me in. But I do think it could quickly become an easy crutch so I'm definitely putting some effort into using it sparingly. Anyway, with the angle of sight, I think it's just about as hard to see if you're hitting the right spot as it is to hear if you're hitting the right spot.
For an absolute beginner, stickers are sort of a must... For anyone else thry are detrimental.
Well, Bruno, I think it would be better for absolute beginners to play scales one octave up each string using one finger. Putting fingers down by-passes the ear and only train the ear to think in terms of one two three four etc., which is usually out of tune, and which has led to the use of tapes or marks. So we will have to disagree on this one.
How many beginners have you taught, Peter?
Oh and Kate, you'd probably do best just putting your thumb on the bottom of the frog until you get some understanding of how the bow interacts with the strings. Otherwise you're going to build an insane amount of tension trying to make your bow hand look "like it's supposed to".
"How many beginners have you taught, Peter?"
I have also met some of Ricci’s former pupils, Ricci resided in Sanremo sometimes between the end of 80s’ and 90s’, providing masterclass for some excellent students of that time once a month. His viewpoint is very close to what is emphasized in Italian conservatory: to train the ability of identifying pitch by ear, especially the interval between sounds, tape is not allowed in that condition. In fact I think it is necessary to find some videos about solfeggio via YouTube for OP. In traditional violin pedagogy, a sense of good relative pitch is very important, this should be trained at very beginning and can be trained.
Yes in many ways Europe has better training than for example the UK. Solfeggio is very good and can be of great benefit for beginners and even more advanced players. I can't comment on the US as I don't know their system, but they do produce some fine players, and some great modern violins. However, there are a lot of modern methods being promoted from different places all over the world, but few I fear are really worthwhile.
One fingered scales? That's not going to work any better unless the student already has well-developed relative pitch.
Are you under the impression that the students entering ricci's tutelage were "average" in any capacity?
By the way, I can vouch for Erik's students. I am principal violist in a community orchestra in Erik's city. I have had one of his adult-beginner students in my section, and her intonation is fine.
Thanks for the link, Andrew. I think I'll be using that a lot. I've definitely been trying to sing and hum scales since EVERYTHING I've read suggests doing that for ear training, but god am I bad.
It's also possible that you're just not as bad as you think you are, Kate. Part of what a teacher does for you is tell you how your progress is going from an objective standpoint; it can be dangerous when the student is also the only audience, because negative feedback loops are unstoppable in this situation.
Heretics? Ha! You're downright "establishment" compared to me. I self-taught for the first 16 years, and played seven Beethoven symphonies and performed the Bruch Romanze as soloist with an orchestra before my first lesson. Mostly because, after being rejected by multiple teachers when I was trying to start, I mistakenly thought for a long time that I'd have to get all the way to conservatory level on my own in order to have any chance of being accepted for lessons as an adult. So I'm all for learning in non-traditional ways.
I'm not using tapes because they will leave a sticky residue when I take them off and I might now be able to clean it so I'd have to take my violin to a luthier which isn't accessible. I learn a song and when I'm comfortable enough to play it without being tense then I record my self ans see (and hear) what I've been doing wrong. Sometimes I compare my sound to other beginner's videos to see if I'm worse or better. Why don't you try that Kate? :)
That's an interesting idea. I have started recording myself, but I'm not sure I've been getting too much insight from it just yet. Most of my mistakes are big enough that I hear them while I make them.
Why don't you try to do open strings and finger excercises? In my first month I didn't attempt to play any songs. I practiced open strings an hour a day for the first week, first finger the next week, second and first finger the next week, three fingers the week after that and after three weeks of practicing fingers then I attempted to play 'au Claire de la lune' which sounded horrid but I kept going as well as doing finger excercises to warm up before every practice session. Try that. No matter how good you think you are keep practicing fingers and bowing as warmups until you at least become intermediate. That's what I'm doing. Try that for a week or so. :)
Violetta is correct. Beginners need to start every day with long, open strings, drawing out the tone and trying to relax while doing the correct movement. Then only introduce one finger at a time.
Ha. Open strings is about allll I've been doing. This past couple weeks or more, I spend about half an hour on open strings, then half an hour on scales.
Honestly, progress on the violin is rarely noticeable by the pupil. It's like trying to watch yourself grow taller as a child. You wouldn't re-measure your height daily. You'd do it once every several months. So you should re-evaluate your total progress thinking in terms of months rather than days. Then everything will make more sense to you.
This is the website I used for the excercises: https://www.alisonsparrow.com/violinlessons
Good points, Erik. I appreciate the encouragement.
If there were some way of sending you some tips and advice away from the forum I could do so. That way we won't attract opposing opinions. My email should be on my profile page. If you would rather not, then don't worry.
I'd say don't worry about the bow hold too much. I think that the main purpose of a perfect bow hold is for the violinist to feel relaxed and comfortable. I had the same problems with the pinky and I didn't start concentrating on curving it until a week ago. I thought I'd open up to the violin first and have the violin warm up to me. Now with the new curved pinky it feels like my bow will slip out of my hands. XD
Peter Charles:".... But then I'm a weirdo so don't listen to me! (wink)
In my forty-five years of teaching, I can affirm that in no way do initial visual clues prevent one from listening and playing in tune. Students who never make that transition have been very poorly taught!