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I've Wandered off the Track...

August 13, 2009 at 4:38 PM

I am currently a college student, and this summer I have slacked...massively!  I feel as if I deserve some type of excruciating beating for doing so.  Though I haven't wandered away from the instrument, I have gotten wrapped up in the Irish-Celtic style of playing.  But that's not what they ask of you in college.

We have also gotten a new violin teacher, so I have also felt that any effort put into my current technique books would be pointless.  Which is part of the reason why I've been pushing practice away.

I guess, I'm asking for any advice on how to get back into the pattern I was once in.  Back into the 4 hours worth of playing the instrument I love.  Anything to help get me back on the right track would be much appreciated.


From Andrew Paa
Posted on August 14, 2009 at 2:13 AM

First of all, getting side-tracked is very common and sometimes it can actually help you because when you come back to the hard stuff, you're more relaxed and eager to work on it.  My best advice would be to go back to a piece of music you really enjoy, maybe from last semester, and work on that.  Get it back to near performable condition for when you get back to school.  This will help not only you get back into the grove, but also lets the new teacher see where you are at.d

From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on August 14, 2009 at 4:16 AM

Do you have favorite violinists/pieces to listen to???  This is a wonderful way to see the "why" violin actually is intended to be a super instrument and fun in addition (yes fun, I still can't believe it lol   Well, I exagerate a little here...) unstead of a torture instrument, a hand streching machine etc like we often have the impression it is...

But my humble opinion applies only if it is the technique that annoys you and you have to find a "why" to it. If it is because you don't like classical anymore (it happens sometimes), then maybe it is important to ask yourself what kind of music you want to do.

Just my two cents

Good luck! 


From Royce Faina
Posted on August 14, 2009 at 11:16 AM

I've been relearning the violin shy of 2 years now.  I had a teacher who put me on Schradieck Ettudes beging with #1 and Wolfhart Ettudes.  So, listen to a teacher and go with him or her, or pick up where you left off when you began persuing Celtic music.  What classical pieces were you working on?  Pick them up again.  In a way it's like drawing a circle.  But explaining your situation to a teacher would be a wise step.  He / She can evaluate you and at least get you on the road.

From Tasha Miner
Posted on August 14, 2009 at 12:38 PM

 I would like to say that I have had a similarly side-tracked summer.  It has left me invigorated and rejuvenated.  I am eagerly practicing again!

I agree with Andrew, and the above comments.  Take a look at Sayaka Shoji on youtube.  She plays flawlessly, has a unique technique, especially in left hand, and has such obvious passion/love for violin & music, you can't help but be inspired to practice!

I hope all goes well with the new teacher for you.  It can be hard to start over, but excellent discoveries and improvements are made this way!

From Catie Rinderknecht
Posted on August 14, 2009 at 3:12 PM

 There must be something about this summer that has a bunch of people side-tracked or struggling to get back in the swing of things.  

1.  I'm glad you enjoyed yourself as you did the Irish/Celtic thing.  

2.  It is tough to get back in the swing of things.  I played viola a LOT in early summer and had to get back into violin stuff.  Also, I start college in less than 2 weeks.  I have plenty of stuff I need to do, but it is so much easier to be a slacker.  It's weird, because I've been really excited to begin studying with my new teacher.  Maybe that will help.  The point here is that you're not alone in this feeling.  

3.  I can't offer many suggestions to you that haven't already been said.   

Best wishes as you seek to fall in love with the violin again.  

From Jacob Bass
Posted on August 14, 2009 at 3:57 PM

Scales. Scales and arpeggios can, if practiced correctly, prepare you for any and everything that you will have to do (technically speaking) on the violin.

I also recommend: 

From Pauline Lerner
Posted on August 15, 2009 at 5:35 AM

I'd like to point out some misconceptions which are common among many purist classical violinists.

  1. Celtic music is not the same as Irish music.  Irish music is but one type of Celtic music.  Other kinds of Celtic music come from Scotland, the Shetland Islands, Cape Breton (Canada), Brittany (France), Asturia (Spain), Wales, and other places.  There are distinct differences among them.
  2. Irish and other Celtic music is not always easy music to play.  In fact, some traditional Irish fiddle music is downright virtuosic.  A major aspect of Irish music is improvisation, which can be quite difficult and beautiful and has no counterpart in the classical repertoire.  If you have never improvised, I suggest that you give it a try.  It is usually quite difficult for classically trained violinists to pick up.  I remember the violin teacher of my childhood yelling at me, "What's the matter with you?  You don't like the way Beethoven wrote that?  You have to rewrite it yourself?"  It was very hard for me to let go and improvise at first.  Now I love to do it, and I love to help other classically trained violinists learn  to do it.  I still love, play, and teach classical music, too.
  3. It is entirely possible to love the violin and play nonclassical music on it.

Personally, I feel that diversity enriches.  When you return to playing classical music, you will understand it in ways that you couldn't without your detour into Celtic music.  If you eventually decide that Celtic music, not classical music, is your true calling, that is nothing to be ashamed of.

From Justin Keck
Posted on August 16, 2009 at 2:19 AM
Pauline, thank you! If I could, I would get you over here to my college and share this with both violin teachers. My first teacher once said (supposedly, I heard from a fellow classmate) that fiddle music has no technicality to it. Also, the Irish and Celtic style has lived in my neck of the woods for ages, you just never hear of it cuz you have to search for it...and I finally decided to search. I still plan on doing classical as a profession, but I'd also like to keep my country roots as well.
From Pauline Lerner
Posted on August 16, 2009 at 4:09 AM

Justin, I'm glad you appreciated my comments.  I think keeping classical music as your primary focus and exploring Celtic music would be a great way to go.

From Andrew Paa
Posted on August 17, 2009 at 12:59 AM

I'm sorry, I didn't mean to make it sound like fiddle music isn't hard, haha.  I'm not very good at fiddle music myself, I meant the "hard stuff" more in a rhetorical sense-as in the stuff you sometimes have to pound down to make a career in classical music.  Best of luck and never believe someone who says any type of fiddle music isn't hard, because it is...fiendishly!

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