I must say, I'm enjoying the opportunity to teach a new violin.
Certainly, I've taught a lot of new violinists, but I don't often get a newborn fiddle in my hands, as I did this week with the Hiroshi Kono -- a 2010 with barely-dried varnish.
It sounds a little strange. You may be wondering, what on earth do you have to teach a violin? You just play it, right?
Well, it's not so simple. A new violin is doing something that it never did in its life as a tree: making a specific kind of sound. Sure, the wind might have whistled through its branches, but really, this is something new.
In a nutshell: The wood of a violin resonates when you play it. If you can make the wood resonate properly, you can open up the the violin's voice. If you play the violin carelessly, the voice actually shuts down because the wood is not resonating. For example, it's quite possible for me to pick up one of my students' violins and to tell if that student has been playing all week, simply from how the violin sounds, as I know all their violins. The violin will be louder and clearer if the student has played it all week; even more so if the student plays consistently in tune.
Playing in tune makes the violin resonate more, so this is important.
On this new violin that I'm training, I noticed today that it feels as though the fiddle still has to learn the very basic grooves. It is learning how to resonate on the most elemental notes of the violin: the open strings and all their companions, and then notes of related scales. At this point, the violin isn't too picky and isn't really telling me much. Instead, I'm giving all the instruction. For example, it doesn't get way, way more resonant when I play a first-finger “E” on the “D” string because it hasn't really played that note any more than it's done anything else. It will even settle for a slightly out-of-tune “E,” without putting up a huge protest. But if I play a very, very in-tune “E” repeatedly, I can almost hear the violin getting the groove, learning that “E” is going to be very important in its vocabulary. It resonates more and more, and the note becomes more specific. It's like teaching a child to speak!
Has anyone else had this experience?
This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.
Violinist.com is made possible by...