My Story as An Amateurish Self-taught (III): People Around (“Colleagues” and “Audiences”)

January 17, 2014, 1:12 PM · Hello everyone!
this is another 'episode' of my previous blogs about my life as an amateurish self-taught...

Part I: here
Part II: here

I love to make myself believe that for a professional musicians, audience is like one of the source of energy for performing music. An atmosphere that keeps the performance alive. I don't know how it feels like because I'm not a pro performer. But as an audience, I do..
Even if music is not my professional career, I personally think audience would be an important thing for myself. At first, it simply just feels like I need these people to be around me (although lately I consider myself to be an introvert).
However after few years playing, or one might say after “few year messing around the violin”, I just want people to experience what I felt when I play, especially the joy and particular emotions that one can sense in music.. I just want to share it, to let them be aware that such beautiful thing does exist and it doesn’t just pop out like magic. It is produced by hard-work, patience, passion, dedication, commitment, joy, and even sorrow...(okay I’ll try stop the drama thing) oh, and of! lol

What will these music that I practiced mean if no one hears or understands what I am doing?? I think I still can stand it for a while. I play by myself for myself, for almost all the time. But on the other side, I’ve always been wondering about the feeling of having the real experience, being in the right atmosphere...

If you read my previous blogs, you’ll probably have a little picture of what I have been through. There are good things coming, but more bad things are following. The people around me is getting worse and starts making me insane. Many new “professional violinists” are appearing in my city. It's supposed to be such a great news, isn’t it? I really do hope it was.
There are communities appearing and advertising themselves as professional classical musicians here. The good side is classical music started to get popular among them, as well as the interest to learn playing the instruments, especially of course, the volin.
One can be a superstar violinist here. Even only by playing simple Suzuki-Bach (Petzold) G major Minuet, you're an instant “orchestra player”.. You don’t have to care about anything, even basic stuff like holding the violin properly. Plus, you just don’t have to read music because it just "makes you become a boring, inflexible musician".

In my previous blog I said “I was like a person from stone age, seeing fire for the first time” when I saw an orchestra score for the first time in my life. Well, it's a normal "phase" that most beginners would face.
However, these new learners discovered their “fire” mostly within only a short range of time but acted as if they've been doing that for years. They do read music, like reading simple rhythms or simple melody of pop music's vocal line (which luckily written in sheet-music) and voila! they instantly become a classically-trained violinists..
They also do "arrange" music. They write their own two-part violin score: same melody in unison, or occasionally in octaves.. sometimes they make harmony for those two violin parts by dividing the exactly same melody into two different keys (e.g. violin I in D major, and violin II in C major) and play them together.. “OH WHAT A SWEET DISSONANCES!"
And...they also teach...

Many of them probably have never heard the names of the great violinists like Heifetz or Perlman. The pieces of music they heard are most likely just the Pachelbel's Canon or Bach's Air. When I mention anything other than those, they would say I am "an alien speaking alien" that should go away..

Meanwhile, in other Islands/Provinces, there are lots of music schools and professional musicians, so many soloists and ensembles and so many concerts. The people around them do have the awareness and proper basic knowledge. So if any "barbarian" communities appeared, they would just die away slowly (or sometimes be gone much faster), or simply they'd be educated, because they already have the right environment to grow.

If only we have the same environment here..
I’m very sad that I almost can’t do anything, since I basically don’t have power.
No one would bother to hear things from an amateurish self-taught like me anyway..

I might say I can only cry through my violin (sorry another drama thing LOL).
I don't want my hard-work to be meaningless.
I want to improve myself, even with all odds I'm facing. So someday if possible, I could share the right things..

Nowadays I keep posting the recordings I played. I have NO intention to show-off how good I am, going alone all this time.. but just to seek for the real people anywhere out there, to hear their comments, not just about "oh, it's good; oh, it's bad". I need more detailed thing so I can improve and correct myself, simply because I can't find such people here..

I'm very lucky that I met so many good friends via internet. Pro performers, teachers, luthiers, students and even just audiences, who gave me their honest words and I thank them all very much, and of course I thank you all here in :)


January 19, 2014 at 03:28 AM · Greetings,

that was really great. thanks for sharing it with us.

This kind of piece is very difficult in terms of vibrato ad I think you need to make clear decisions about whether you want to use vibrato and how much on every note of the piece. You could experiment with changing which part of the finger tip touches the string to see what new tone colors you can find. A lot of times you play fourth finger notes and they dont have the same quality of vibrato as the rest. This is a problem for everyone and its a fact we have to live with but working on it pays dividends.

About halfway through you play a harmonic but you dont adjust the bow speed or go near enough to the bridge . Dont leave the finger down on a flagolet. If the bow speed is fast enough then releasing the finger allows the note to ring.

You play an awkward shift from g to f high on the e sting using three and then four for the lower note. There may not be a better fingering but try to make it less obtrusive. Also, since it occurs twice you might consider doing a different fingering the second time. Doing the same thing twice is boring .

The fast run nearer the end seems to blurt out a little for my taste. You might try and integrate ore into the melodic line.

Very good playing.



January 19, 2014 at 05:58 AM · This is quite strange. Did you dub the music over a video of yourself playing, rather than record the audio together with the video? The motions don't look synchronized with the audio. This is particularly noticeable with bow changes and shifts, but I'm noticing that the bow distribution especially doesn't coincide with sound intensity. What my ears hear and what my eyes tell me I should be hearing aren't matching.

January 19, 2014 at 07:18 AM · dear Buri, thank you so much for your detailed comment! That's exactly what I need since nobody here can't tell me such things and I have no teacher. I will keep practicing.

dear Lydia, thanks for noticing it. Yes I did that. I struggle like hell producing the best sound I can make so I took like 10-15 of recordings and honestly both my looks/visual and the sound didn't always doing good. E.g. a take looks quite nice but the sound was awful and the other one looks awful but sound better. (Although mostly I looked scary.. lol)

But I'm so very sorry if then this actually failed in eyes and ears, but at least it's still me who play :D

January 19, 2014 at 09:30 AM · Hello Riz, So much damage can be done by uninformed teachers. Perhaps some people see music as an easy way of earning a living, so one becomes a 'professional', as you say, after only a few steps. This is fine up to a point, and if you are only playing, but once you start teaching, it becomes a problem, because your students will be taught the wrong things. And so it spreads. Keep up the good work, Riz. If you are self taught, you are on the right path. You are gifted- you obviously have a good ear for intonation and tone- so follow your instincts. It's a shame you're not a professional! Yours, Ibrahim Aziz. London.

January 19, 2014 at 09:35 AM · semangat ya, bang riz! terus berkarya dan jangan pernah berhenti belajar. :)


January 19, 2014 at 11:33 AM · Salam kenal dear Shasha! and thank so much for the encouragement.. I wish I could live around professional guys like you :)

January 19, 2014 at 07:14 PM · Thanks so much dear Ibrahim!

Yes actually if those people just play without publishing unusual stuffs, it would be just fine. but what I am afraid of is the public, which still has no enough awareness and knowledge. They (both the audience/public and those performers) don't have any picture about what they're actually doing. I feel embarrassed & sad..

btw your comment just showed up.. it's weird it appeared quite late as I notice there was no any comment before Shasha's.. maybe it's an error on my internet or browser or something...

January 19, 2014 at 07:41 PM · I loved your interpretation of this music -- very direct, open, simple -- letting the melody convey all the meaning and emotion. I wouldn't have guessed that you are "self-taught" by hearing this music. In a sense, of course, everyone is self-taught at last since the real study of an instrument happens in practice and is between you and the instrument and the music.

In regard to criticisms, I can't offer any (full disclosure, I'm self-taught too and you play better than I do). As a listener, hearing the piece twice, I think you could experiment with subtleties in the dynamics. Particularly as the theme is repeated, I thought there was opportunity for a delicate restatement -- something softer and even more lonely, having the melody say something a little bit different with each repetition. But it is quite lovely as it is.

A further point, though, about criticism. You have made a very definite statement with this piece and it really comes down to what you think about it. If there is something that you feel you could've done, that "should've" been different in some aspect -- you could ask more experienced violinists how to move toward whatever difference in sound exists between what you played, and something that you aspire toward. Otherwise people will be essentially just telling you how they would have played it, something that might not address your goals at all.

The real question is does this form accomplish what you felt?

Part of the artistry is in deciding what you want, what sounds need to be there to get what you want, and afterwards determining whether the piece as you played it accomplished your goals and arrived at that musical idea.

All I can say is your playing would have accomplished my goals. It is really so very lovely.

January 21, 2014 at 12:07 AM · Excellent! You should be very proud of what you have been able to accomplish on your own!

January 23, 2014 at 12:47 AM · Greetings,

I really appreciate that you are trying to be honest about that! It takes courage, though :)

I feel the same way also goes to some of the new "professional singers" pops all around. Haha.

Thanks for sharing with us!

About your playing, I watched your video several times and I can't say anything, your playing is awesome! Mainly because I can't play as good as you do :( and I want to learn that song so bad!

Anyway, don't let them discourage you to continue playing and learning!! Semangat kak Riz!! :-)

January 23, 2014 at 04:08 AM · Your performance was very beautiful and I liked how you presented it overall. It would have been good if the video and audio were synched better, but I know how hard that is!

I'm just a student like you but I sometimes felt that you weren't giving enough attention to some of the lower notes. I agree with the others in saying that it might be good to try and add a bit more variety. Follow the principal that you never play the same part the same way again. Also the fast parts stood out too much, maybe that was because you were trying to fit them into the piano.

Otherwise the overall performance is very lovely and I enjoyed listening to it. I liked you vibrato. Keep it up.

This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

Corilon Violins
Corilon Violins

Colburn School: Chamber Music Intensive
Colburn School: Chamber Music Intensive

Find a Summer Music Program
Find a Summer Music Program

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Mio Cannone Violini
Mio Cannone Violini Shopping Guide Shopping Guide

Heifetz Institute: Crescendo

Metzler Violin Shop

Bein & Company

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Leatherwood Bespoke Rosin

Annapolis Bows & Violins

Los Angeles Violin Shop

String Masters

Bobelock Cases

Things 4 Strings LLC



Sleepy Puppy Press

Jargar Strings

J.R. Judd Violins, LLC

Southwest Strings

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine