September 2015

How to Get a Clean Sound Without Tension in Your Left Hand

September 30, 2015 00:29

This episode of Violin & Viola TV is inspired by my Violin & Viola Academy student Susan. She writes:

Hi Zlata

I Hope you enjoy every moment of your holiday and relax as much as you can. Thank you for all the wonderful videos you provide for us your students.

Something I am realy struggling with is the pressure on the strings with my left hand fingers. I think that I apply way too much pressure, but if I don't do it I can't get a clean sound. Do you think that is the main reason for the tension?

Thank you so much for your kind attention whenever possible.

Susan


This is something I myself learned wrong at first and after that learned to do it well.

There are three ways to place your fingers on the string:

One way is to place your finger on the string as softly as possible and to use very little tension. The downside of this way is that the finger placement becomes very insecure, vage and you don't hear a good articulation coming from your lef hand.

You need to use some force to hit the string to the fingerboard. That leads us to the second way: People use a lot of tension and force to squeeze the string onto the fingerboard. You get a more clean sound, but your left hand will cramp after a while. That's also not the way to do it.

The third and (in my opinion) best way is to hit your fingers on the fingerboard. In this way your intonation will also improve.

You need to hold your violin or viola in a relaxed way. You need to keep your left arm under the violin or viola in a relaxed way.

Your left hand fingers however need to be very strong and sporty. Without the bow you need to be able to hear your finger tips hitting the string, which hits the fingerboard. The strings should slap on the fingerboard a little, as if you are hitting a fly with your finger tip.

In this way your left hand will be relaxed, your finger tips won't hurt and your intonation (playing in tune) will be more accurate. 

Perhaps you can analyze for yourself what way you are placing your fingers and if you can make some improvements with the tips from this video.

Is this video helpful to you? Please let me know in the comments below! If you like it, share it with your friends!

What’s your favorite shoulder rest and why? Share it in the comments below!

Love,

Zlata

PS: Do you have questions or struggles on violin or viola playing? Post a comment below or send an e-mail to info@violinlounge.com and I might dedicate a Violin & Viola TV episode to answering your question!

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VLM Augustin Diamond Shoulder Rest Review

September 23, 2015 01:38

In this episode of Violin & Viola TV I review the VLM (Viva la Musica) Augustin Diamond shoulder rest. Since some years I am using this shoulder rest after using a Wolf Forte Secundo for almost twenty years. Lots of people are interested in what I use and why.

A little warning here: That I like this chinrest and that’s a good fit for me, doesn’t mean that it will be the right one for you. We don’t have the same body. Find the combination of chinrest and shoulder rest that fits YOU best, not someone else.

In the video I show you this shoulder rest and tell you why this is my choice:

The reason I replaced my Wolf Forte Secundo shoulder rest with the VLM Augustin Diamond shoulder rest is that I can adjust the VLM shoulder rest to be very low. My violin hold is in a way similar to people who play without a shoulder rest: I hold my violin a relatively low and more to the middle.

I don’t want my shoulder rest to be a big construction that gets in the way of free playing. 

Yes, I have considered playing without shoulder rest, I did that a lot and I can do this without much effort. However for the violin I prefer to play with this low shoulder rest: it’s best for me. On the viola I prefer to play without shoulder rest. Of course this is all highly personal and there is not ONE and the same answer for everybody.

The shape of this shoulder rest fits my collar bone very well, but I can imagine that for some people the shape doesn’t fit the shape of their body. The Wolf rests can be adjusted in shape. This VLM rest is made of wood, so you can’t adjust the actual curve of the rest.

The advantages of this shoulder rest are:


  • it’s light

  • it doesn’t mute your violin like other shoulder rests because of the special design of the feet

  • it can be adjusted to be very low

  • it’s adjustable in width and height on both sides

  • you can twist the feet as I show in the video

  • it looks pretty :)


I hope you like this product review!

If you are interested in buying this shoulder rest, click here!

Is this video helpful to you? Please let me know in the comments below! If you like it, share it with your friends!

Love,

Zlata

PS: Do you have questions or struggles on violin or viola playing? Post a comment below or send an e-mail to info@violinlounge.com and I might dedicate a Violin & Viola TV episode to answering your question!

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3 Ways to Check if You are Playing in Tune on the Violin or Viola

September 17, 2015 00:22

You don't want to depend only on what your teacher tells you in the lesson. You must be able to check if you are in tune yourself when practicing.

In this episode of Violin & Viola TV I give you three ways to check if you are playing in tune on the violin or viola:

1) Check your note with open strings

If you are playing a G, D, A or E on the violin or a C, G, D or A on the viola, you can check if the note is in tune by comparing it with an open string.

For example when you play the 3rd finger on the A string, which is a D, you can check it with the open D string.

It doesn't matter in which octave you are playing the note: even in the highest positions, you can always check it. For this it's important to always be aware of the note you are playing.

2) Check yourself with a piano

If you have a piano at hand, hit the note you are playing on the violin on the piano and you can check yourself. If you hold the pedal, you can play the note on the violin while the note of the piano still sounds. This is easier than remembering the note and playing it on the violin after it has sounded on the piano.

3) Use an electronic tuner

Besides that you can use an electronic tuner for tuning your violin, you can also use this device to check if you are playing in tune. If you are lost on the fingerboard, this can come in very handy. Read here more about how this device works and which one I recommend.

Don't wait for your teacher to correct you. Check yourself all the time and correct yourself while practicing.

Checking and adjusting all the time is the way to go to learn to play in tune confidently. You train your muscle memory and your ears.

Now I would like to hear from you! Share in the comments below what's your favorite way to check yourself while practicing. If you don't do this yet, tell me which one of the above three ways you are going to use.

 

Is this video helpful to you? Please let me know in the comments below! If you like it, share it with your friends!

Love,

Zlata

PS: Do you have questions or struggles on violin or viola playing? Post a comment below or send an e-mail to info@violinlounge.com and I might dedicate a Violin & Viola TV episode to answering your question!

2 replies

10 Point Checklist for Your Violin or Viola Case

September 8, 2015 02:35

This episode of Violin & Viola TV gives you a 10 point checklist for your violin or viola case. To keep your instrument in a good state it’s important to have a good case.


  1. Check the outside of your case: leather, fabric, plastic or carbon... it should be in a good state without damage.

  2. Your violin or viola should fit seamlessly in it’s case. It shouldn’t swim around, because it will damage on the road. Also the inside of your case must be nice and soft without damage or hard parts that can damage the varnish of your instrument.

  3. The bow holders should work properly. I’ve seen violins and viola’s with severe damage caused by the bow swimming around in the case while traveling.

  4. The tip of your bow should be protected very well by the case as it’s the weakest part of the bow.

  5. The zippers of your case should work well and the locks must be in a good state, so the case can’t suddenly open when you are traveling.

  6. The rucksack straps must be in a good condition and be firmly attached to the case. The handle of your case must also be in a good condition. In this way the case can’t suddenly fall.

  7. Your case must be in it’s original shape, not bumped in any way.

  8. You shouldn’t miss any parts of your case.

  9. The case shouldn’t damage your violin or viola and bow. There shouldn’t be places where the case puts pressure on your instrument for example.

  10. Your violin or viola should be fixed in your case and not be able to move around. If you are walking around with your case and you hear something rattle, check what this is.  Perhaps it’s just your rosin moving around in it’s compartment.


Is this video helpful to you? Please let me know in the comments below! If you like it, share it with your friends!

Love,

Zlata

PS: Do you have questions or struggles on violin or viola playing? Post a comment below or send an e-mail to info@violinlounge.com and I might dedicate a Violin & Viola TV episode to answering your question!

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Wolf Maestro Chinrest Review

September 3, 2015 00:06

In this episode I review the Wolf Maestro chinrest. Lots of people ask me what chinrest and shoulder rest I use and why. Some months ago I have bought this new chinrest and I would like to let you know my thoughts about it.

A little warning here: That I like this chinrest and that's a good fit for me, doesn't mean that it will be the right one for you. We don't have the same body. Find the combination of chinrest and shoulder rest that fits YOU best, not someone else.

In the video I show you how this chinrest looks like.

I like about this chinrest that:


  • it's very soft (leather) and comfortable, fitting like a leather shoe and following the shape of your jaw and chin

  • it's light and reduces the weight of your violin (an ebony chinrest is strong, but heavy: almost 20% of the weight of your violin)

  • it's big

  • it's quite flat, not so much curved


What I don't like about this chinrest is that the leather on the back attaches to a rubber thingy that is glued on metal. I had to find a way to attach it to the screw, so it remains in the same position.

If your are interested in buying this chinrest, click here!

I hope this review has been helpful to you in your search for the ideal chinrest and shoulder rest, so you can play comfortably and effortlessly.

Is this video helpful to you? Please let me know in the comments below! If you like it, share it with your friends!

Love,

Zlata

PS: Do you have questions or struggles on violin or viola playing? Post a comment below or send an e-mail to info@violinlounge.com and I might dedicate a Violin & Viola TV episode to answering your question!

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More entries: August 2015

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