I can't hear my violin

Edited: September 2, 2017, 6:37 AM · I hope I can make this make sense. When I play my violin (I'm just learning) I can hear it fine. But, when my instructor plays the same series of notes at the same time, all I can hear is her violin. It is driving me nuts. Any thoughts?

Replies (16)

September 2, 2017, 7:13 AM · Yep, you will learn it by time. If you are very desperate try to move a bit, what is not moving relativ to you is the sound you make, rest will change.
After some time you will automatically hear whats your tone. Thats a common thing and no reason to worry about.
Edited: September 2, 2017, 7:21 AM · The positive side is that you might well be playing in tune with your teacher :)
Edited: September 2, 2017, 7:29 AM · some violins are harder to hear, especially when there is other sound around. I have several violins and for orchestral playing I have always chosen to use those violins I could hear whatever other instruments might be playing simultaneously. Some of the violins I have owned just did not cut it!

Unfortunately, when I'm playing one of the violins I can hear in orchestra, I pretty much can't hear any others.

Have you talked with your teacher about this problem? You are new at this, maybe you need to learn to play louder. Also what Tammuz said!

September 2, 2017, 7:55 AM · @Tammuz, that's what she said, I am playing in tune.

@Mark, I'll try turning a bit to see if anything changes.

@Andrew, yeah, I did talk with her, it just didn't make a lot of sense. If one is playing in tune and can't hear oneself play, how do you know for sure how bad you're shredding the music. OK that was partially kidding. How can you enjoy the fullness of the music if you can't hear half of it? I don't mean to be stubborn but I think I'm still not getting something. I will trust your responses and see where it goes. But I will reserve the right to lean into a string once in a while to make sure I'm making some kind of noise.

Edited: September 2, 2017, 8:09 AM · Maybe turn your head a bit so your left ear is focused more on your instrument. Just be sure to remain in a relaxed and (somewhat) natural position. Perhaps you may also need to switch to the other side of your teacher. But first discuss this with your teacher before doing anything. I tend to have regular ear check ups with my Dr. I have pretty good hearing but back ground noise cancels it out fairly easily.
September 2, 2017, 9:25 AM · Your violin might have a more mellow tone than your teacher's. Your teacher might be playing louder than you. Or you might be playing in tune and in time and the sound is blending with your teacher. The mistake that some orchestra violinists make, especially high on the E-string, is that they can't hear themselves, so they unconsciously push the notes sharp, to check them, which annoys the wind section.
Edited: September 2, 2017, 9:33 AM · "Better sharp, than out of tune" Famous quote, but from whom?

Cheers Carlo

Posted under my real full name in accordance with the rules of Vcom..

September 2, 2017, 10:03 AM · It sounds to me as if your teacher is simply playing too loud when playing along with you.

Always look for the simple solution first.

September 2, 2017, 10:23 AM · @joel, that very well may be, I do have a low-end violin, strings and bow that seem weak; her's, a beautiful and strong voice.

@Mary Ellen, I wonder if she will take it well if I tell her to whisper. She may just be trying to get me not to be shy and hit the sounding point like I mean it.

So many possibilities... never give up, get better

Edited: September 2, 2017, 11:19 AM · @Carlo, "Better sharp, than out of tune". A Google search failed to identify any one person who could be said to be responsible for that useful bit of advice.

I suspect the origin of the saying is lost in the mists of antiquity. It could perhaps have been said by Palestrina when rehearsing a motet with an a capella choir, or by any conductor, choral or instrumental, throughout the ages.

On a number of occasions I've heard a choral conductor tell the choir to breathe properly because some of them were singing flat; so they breathed properly, the offenders sharpened up and the choir was immediately in tune with itself and the orchestra.


September 3, 2017, 12:48 PM · Jin,

You might purchase some of those cheap waxy ear plug at a drug stores and place one in your right ear when playing with your teacher to better balance the sound you hear coming from the two of you by increasing what you hear from your own instrument by 12 - 18 db. You can experiment with how tightly you insert the plug.

For many years I used one of those plugs in my left ear when playing in ensembles to better hear others (along with my own fiddle) through my right ear by reducing my relative sound by that amount.

September 3, 2017, 1:04 PM · I practise with such ear plugs to keep my ears in working condition. Its a bit loud otherwise.
September 3, 2017, 1:50 PM · @Andrew, that may be an option. I thought about an earplug- been looking for a v51r that I used on the flightline but haven't seen them in a long time. I'll give something a try though.
September 4, 2017, 5:46 AM · Move your bow to the other side of the bridge. To the negative lanes. You'll hear yourself then. :)
September 4, 2017, 5:47 AM · lol, I'll try that Paul.
September 4, 2017, 8:01 AM · Your teacher could be playing too loud.

Some violins have a loud but rather characterless and transparent tone that makes them difficult to hear within a group. This is one reason why when testing violins I always make sure to play them in various group settings.

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