My progress so far as a self-taught violinist. (3 months)

May 15, 2018, 12:52 AM · Wow! It feels like yesterday that I posted about 2 months progress. I feel like I haven't progressed much in the 3rd month as I did in the last two months. Maybe because those months were spent getting used to the finger positions and posture and bow hold so I felt like I was getting somewhere. But now that I've got the basics down I feel like I've reached a dead end. But I still want to get somewhere and there's still intonation to improve (I think that's what always needs improvement with the violin).
It's not like I didn't do anything except play old beginner pieces over and over again.
I've finished the violinspiration songbook by Julia Termeer. There are still some pieces that need to be played quickly like "Cantina Band" from Star Wars. But other than that I've finished it. I thinks thats one of the little joys in playing the violin; finishing a book.
I started suzuki book 1 but I can already play most of the pieces in there so I guess I'll be finishing that one, too in the next month or so.
I've progressed in Canon in D.
And a few measures of crystallize have been etched in muscle memory. Well enough that I can play in proper speed with my eyes closed. The rest of the measures have started to sound less distorted.
I've learned He's a pirate. The scratchiness and squeaks have reduced to a minimum.
I've noticed that modern day pieces from movies are actually much simpler than classical pieces from long ago. A good example would the prologue from beauty and the beast. It's simple to play but there's still the matter of intonation. So with those kinds of pieces I can actually only focus on intonation since the notes are easy to memorize.
I can also play the lullaby from Pan's labyrinth pretty well. There's only single note in that piece that is in the 3rd position so I progressed pretty well in it.
I'm going to start etudes and scales now. I know I probably should've started sooner but there was so much else to focus on. So, now that I've taken care of the little things I can finally focus on that.
Bow hold is getting better and better. My pinky finger isn't stiff and straight anymore. It naturally curls now.
I have the sheet music to Turkish March that I play whenever I just want to spend some time playing the violin instead of practicing and even that is coming together very well except that I can play it very slowly. I'm not at that speed yet. The fastest song I can play is He's a pirate. lol
I can ply aloette very well now as well.
I realized that my intonation is worse when I don't have the notes memorized. But when I play something memorized well enough I can play it really well.
And... I guess that's all.
What do you think? What if this was one of your student's progress? Is it good? Is it slow?

Replies (3)

Edited: May 15, 2018, 1:06 AM · This is a familiar pattern; a time to understand and try new things, and a "plateau" while we assimilate and consolidate them. Progress depends on constant repetition of correct sounds and motions. Satisfaction rather than pleasure?

Intonation? After running through a piece once to see where we are, we must always "zoom in" on notes and transitions (and enjoy doing so!...) to find the cause of a difficulty: inattention, inappropriate hand shape and position etc. Finishing a book out of tune will ruin our progress!

May 15, 2018, 2:30 AM · Just remember that improvement can happen in many different directions, not just upwards. In fact, I would argue that sideways improvement is far more valuable to the average student than upwards improvement.

Now that your n00b gainz are starting to slow down, here are some new example goals:

1) 90% of your notes are in tune? Make it 95%!

2) work on planning bow distribution for each note in a piece (e.g. use a half bow for this note, and a whole bow for the next, or play this note in the upper half and the next in the lower half, etc...). There should be some logic to your bow distribution and which part of the bow you're using.

3) have you recorded yourself? Are you pleased with your sound quality? You say the songs in book 1 of Suzuki are relatively simple for you now, but is the quality of tone there? Is the bow under control? Are most of your notes landing in tune, or do you have to fix many of them while you're playing through the piece? Recording will give you many insights on what to work on next.

May 15, 2018, 3:23 AM · @Adrian Heath, You're talking about focusing on the mistakes once I think I'm doing good enough with a piece, right? It's that's what you mean then yes. You're right. And that's what I've been doing with all of the beginner pieces that I learned. I understand that if I go back to them and they still sound terrible that means there (is a/are) mistake(s) I need to correct.
@Erik Williams, working on bow distribution is a good idea. Thanks!
And yes I have recorded myself. I always record myself after I think I've memorized a piece. Then I listen to my recording and read the sheet music along with it to see where/if I'm going wrong. The bow is under control. During the first month my bow just wouldn't stay put in my hands with the bow hold but now it's like an arm extension. It stays firmly and comfortably in my hand when I am playing. Even when I'm not playing it doesn't wobble or lose balance. Most of my notes do land in tune since I dissect an entire measure and play every note individually (even the 8th and 16th notes) to get a grasp of how I should move my fingers and get comfortable with a piece.


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