Violinist day 1 help!
Complete adult beginner here. I've only had my violin for a couple hours and I have several questions already! Any help with the following issues would be greatly appreciated.
1. My teacher emphasised the importance of a tension-free bow hold during the lesson. I find it difficult to maintain a relaxed right hand, especially my pinky which tends to lock at the first knuckle (I'm double jointed).
After some experimentation, I've finally managed to lose most of the tension and keep my pinky curved, but it feels like a lot of the bow weight rests on the strings now, which leads to significant bow bouncing whilst crossing non-adjacent strings. How do I fix it?
2. Notes that I play with my left hand sound dampened and squeaky, a sharp contrast to the resonant open string notes! Is this caused due to incorrect finger position? My teacher doesn't want me to use tapes or dots.
3. I've found that I have to press the string quite hard to produce a clear (relatively) sound, just as much as I would have had to on a guitar! Am I using too much pressure?
4. Part of my collar bone feels sore. Is this because I didn't use a shoulder rest, or is something wrong with the way I'm holding my violin?
5. Is it normal for the right shoulder and part of the left hand to get fatigued after only 20-30 minutes of playing or is my posture to blame?
7. My strings seem to go out of tune pretty quick. How often do you guys have to tune your violin?
8. What should I be practising that will help me fix these problems?
I apologise if these are super obvious questions. My next lesson isn't for quite some time and I don't want to practice something that's not correct. Thanks in advance!
This is a good place to get some thoughts, but mostly listen to your teacher. Here are a couple of mine.
Fatigue after 20 minutes doesn't surprise me for a first-timer. Take a break. "Don't have any tension" is easy to say, but you're a beginner, you have to teach yourself how to do that. It's easy to have a little minor tension somewhere and not realize it because you're thinking so damned hard about all the other stuff you're trying to do! So don't practice for more than 30 min at a stretch and take a break! For your right pinky, bring your middle and ring fingers farther over the back side of the frog, so that your bow is held a little more deeply into your hand. That will compel your pinky to curl a little more and it might give you a softer, more relaxed grip too. Look up Todd Ehle's youtube video on the beginning bow hold and watch that. If you are not getting a nice sound I recommend trying to use just the middle third of your bow for now and just go back and forth keeping it straight and even try to get a mezzo-forte kind of sound. Practice that on an open string and when you are happy with that, then just put your third finger down on the D and A strings to play G and D notes. When they are in tune they will take on a ringing/alive tone because they are resonating with the open strings. I recommend practicing in a mirror and be patient with yourself.
Re your bow hold, I would suggest starting out with your thumb *under* the frog, the way young children do in Suzuki classes, and move it up to its proper place under the stick only after you've developed a fairly relaxed hold with the beginner thumb placement.
Learning to play the violin as an adult is a little bit like a combination of kindergarten and physical therapy. What feels like tension right now might really be mostly lack of strength in certain finger, hand, and arm muscles that you've never had to develop before. Do the exercises your teacher has recommended, to the best of your ability, and don't overthink it! Let your teacher see how you're doing in a week.
Greetings Nick and welcome to Violinist.com.
I think Jeff meant the metal clamp that holds the chin rest in place. If it is a continuing problem then try wrapping a narrow strip of thin chamois leather round the metal part so prevent metal-to-skin contact with the collar bone area.
Trevor to my grammar rescue. Thanks for clarifying so Nick woukd know what I had meant.
Let the ease the thoughts of the OP with a simple suggestion: Decide on an amount that you're willing to practice each day, and stick to that. If that practice leads to 5 fixes in a week, great. If it leads to only 1, great. Whatever it leads to, it leads to. But take some pressure off of yourself by accepting that you'll improve that the pace you improve at, and worrying about fixing EVERYTHING AT ONCE will not help you. Learning is a 5-10 year project, and you must titrate your learning appropriately.
Nick, I would like to suggest that you copy/paste your list into word. You can then print it out, review it with your teacher perhaps by e-mail or in person at your next lesson, and periodically update as things arise. Keep a printed copy with your music and look it over before practice.
Thanks for the advice, everyone.
record your practice and pay attention to how you are holding the instrument.
Everyone has given great advice. Here's my thoughts:
My teacher tells me this: n playing position, place a finger (for instance the third) very lightly on the string (whichever). Increase pressure very slowly on the string. Youll first hear a harmonic (a high pitched whistle like effect) , then sound cracks, then when you first hear a clear sound emerging, this is the amount of finger pressure needed and not any more. Use that reference (approximatively)to calibre your finger pressure elsewhere on fingerboard.
I also forgot to ask: how much does your violin go out of tune? If it goes a teeny bit out of tune during a practice session, that's normal, especially the E string. If it goes out of tune a lot very often, your pegs could be slipping, and you might want to put something like rosin or peg compound to stop the slipping. The fatigue you describe could be due to bad posture or non-playing-related muscular tension. The resonance issue you describe is probably due to bad bowing, but I would need to hear you play before I can confirm. Posting a short clip of your playing can help us forum members give you more specific, detailed and clearer suggestions.