June 2012

My Violin Life/Imitating the Professionals

June 25, 2012 11:49

In my 1 1/2 year experience with playing violin I've done some pretty crazy,yet interesting things. One of my favorites being...trying to play like the pros. How I possibly expected to do that? I'm just as clueless as you are.

I'm not sure exactly when it started,but I remember watching Hilary Hahn's encore after performing the Beethoven violin concerto with Lorin Maazel an the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in Germany.Just her playing such a huge piece at 15 is an outstanding accomplishment but.... she just HAD to go and make international debut one that will NEVER be forgotten. She played the Gigue from Bach's partita in D minor. Suddenly, I saw what true violin playing is. I saw Hilary in all her perfection. You could literally SEE everything she would become. With the bowing of the last note I put down my violin and thought...'THAT is what I want to do. I MUST play like her' I've been trying to reach her level ever since.

HIlary's level is my goal but I've also tried playing like many other greats. Itzhak Perlman has amazing bowing and vibrato. Dmitri Makhtin (VERY UNDERRATED)is simply one of the most amazing Russian violinist I've ever heard. He has the best recording of Paganini's variations on 'Nel cor pui non mi sento' I dare you to look it up. Even though I have great love for Hilary Hahn...Leila Josefowicz isn't far behind. I love the way she plays so aggressively but keeps perfect accuracy. Shlomo Mintz plays the best paganini in my opinion. His reliable accuracy and precision bowing blows my mind.Henryk Szeryng has the best recordings of the Bach Sonatas and Partitas in my opinion (only because Hilary Hahn hasn't made a complete recording of them yet)Accuracy,power,expression. What more could you possibly ask from him? Last but DEFINITELY not least...Anna Savkina.This girl is BEYOND amazing. Child prodigy,winner of many violin competitions including the David Oistrakh VC. I'll also add that she's very pretty. Beautiful playing from a beautiful girl I guess.

Have you ever tried to play like one of your violin idols? I'd love to hear your experiences.

1 reply


My Violin Life/ Having an 'off' day.+ other issues

June 19, 2012 10:39

When I woke up this morning I was very excited to start practicing my violin until.....

Have you ever had one of those days where nothing goes right for you during practice? Well I'm having one of those days. I can't get comfortable with my bow grip and my intonation is a little off.(because of my struggle with bow grip) My vibrato feels weak,my shifting is bad basically...EVERYTHING IS OFF!My rage is over powering my urge to practice. Who's to blame?... my cheap violin and bow. I was going to save this for later but I can't hold this in any longer.

My 'violin shaped object' is a $100 SV 130 and my bow might as well be a tree branch with rosin on it. My mom bought it for me last fall and I was a late beginner then so I didn't notice any flaws,but now that I'm on an intermediate level I can't take it anymore. My teacher keeps nagging me about getting a better violin as if I'm not aware of my OWN needs. I mean... She can't be serious! I'm 15 years old......I'm not sitting on hundreds of dollars for a new violin/bow. My mom is no help because she thinks all violins are the same. My dad is aware of everything but is in no hurry at all.He wouldn't even take me to the violin shop to look at more bows. I'm not sure if you have noticed or not but I'm pretty much on my own.(as usual)

I tried selling brownies and candy at my school to save money but I spent all my savings on my sister's new cellphone so I dropped back to zero. It's summer now and I have about $30 to my name.The violin I want is $800.(1998 copy of a 1713 strad)I have no job so I'm forced to put up with what I have until a miracle happens. I struggle to have productive practice sessions because I spend more time and effort on getting a good clear sound than actually studying my materials. I'm not asking for advice because I know there's nothing I can do. I'll just try my best to move forward...OH GREAT. I have a chair placement audition AND a violin competition audition for my school. This is gonna be embarrassing :D

Sorry for the rant/depressing post. I had to get that off my chest.I feel so stuck I don't know what to do. :\

14 replies


My violin life/Benefits of not practicing everyday

June 11, 2012 09:38

Even though I have one now I might as well be studying alone. My violin teacher is the type of person to just repeat a technique ('No. Make it more of a brushed spiccato') without actually explaining how to play it better. Honestly, I don't really care how she teaches.I'm only taking private lessons because my school orchestra teacher practically made me when she told me that no one can be in advanced orchestra (Chamber) unless they take private lessons.

During my year and a half of violin study I've had to find out many things on my own because I didn't get a private teacher until a few months ago.I actually prefer studying alone (unless I get a better teacher)because of how seriously I take violin practice,performance,and music in general.

One of the first discoveries about violin that I made was,believe it or not,the ability to vibrate harmonics and open strings. I had been playing for only a few weeks when I had a conversation with my orchestra teacher,Mrs.Provenza at the time,about harmonics. She showed me the harmonic on the E string that's about in the middle of the string and when I ran to her later with my 'discovery', she gave me a look that was filled with surprise,joy,and too much coffee.
(On to more important things)

One of the most important violin 'discoveries' I've made would have to be the benefits of not practicing everyday.

Playing the violin,like many instruments,is an ongoing process that can take anywhere from a few years to a lifetime,depending on what the violinist wants to accomplish.Great skill isn't acquired over night! No matter what your plan is with violin, I think everyone could give this a try.

Violin practice to me is kind of like exercise. I work hard on tough passages in the pieces that I'm learning,play tons of scales, and do many self made exercises outside of practice that help finger strength and flexibility. I play violin just about everyday, but every now ad then something feels 'off'. Sometimes I lose inspiration caused from realizing that where I want to be,skill level and study, is NO WHERE in sight. After a few months of playing violin I actually quit for a week during the summer because of my negative thoughts. I'm not sure why...but after a few days of quitting I woke up early one morning with a burning determination in my heart that overthrew the negative thoughts and lead me to where I am now.

Since then I've experimented with breaks of different (and much shorter)lengths of beaks from playing/practicing. I noticed that taking a day break after a 5-6 days of intense practice that focused strictly on building technique and fixing rough passages caused my violin playing to improve dramatically. I felt stronger,faster,and most important of all,more accurate. It seems that by allowing my muscles and mind to rest longer than a typical 8 hour night resulted in all around improvement. My day break also gave me time to be inspired by my favorite violinists by watching their performance on youtube. I'm not sure if anyone else have tried this but if you haven't it's certainly worth a try.

As for me,I continue to practice this way because it works for me. In the end, nothing is more important that what works best for you. I learned that from reading an interview with Hilary Hahn. She is my daily inspiration and I guess you could say my violin 'idol'. I'm thinking about starting a blog series in this style so feedback is always welcome.

5 replies


Stradivarius Faciebat anno 1713?

June 5, 2012 09:11

I'm interested in buying my friend's violin. The label says 'stradivarius faciebat anno 1713' and it's a 1998 copy. It sounds and feels amazing to me.I know it's not a genuine Strad but I wanted some advice. If anyone has knows about this violin (I'm sure there are more) please comment. Here are some pictures of it.
http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.352187211514908.76616.100001708959163&type=3&l=c0b832c318

1 reply


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