The adult beginner violin practice blog.

December 23, 2022, 12:25 PM · Hello everyone, this is my first blog post, so let me introduce myself. My name is Kirill, and I am 54 years old. I started playing the violin about two years ago, which came as a total surprise to my family and me. However, I was incredibly fortunate to find the violinlab.com website and the incredible Julia Bushkova, which helped me get started on my violin journey. Fast forward to today, and I've begun to learn how to practice efficiently and want to share my experience with the broader violin community. I hope you find my posts helpful!
Here is the link to my youtube channel, where I post my practice videos: My youtube channel

Since my blog was archived on this site, I move it here: My Practice Blog

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December 23, 2022 at 06:28 PM · Here are my notes for the last three days (which I begin to publish in 100 days of practice Facebook group).

Day 1

I always start my practice on the open strings and S. Fischer's tone exercises. Today my focus was to use a full bow, from the frog to the tip, keeping it perpendicular to the string. It turns out more challenging to do than I anticipated! I had to readjust the contact point of my index finger with the bow to reach the tip. When I started with the E-string, I also found out that I should not keep it too vertical, or I would hit my ceiling fan with a bow (ouch!).

Next, I tried to maximize the E string's vibrational amplitude. Since it was the E string, I was using the sound point #2. It is hard to see the amplitude of the E-string, so I used "Intonia" to track the amplitude. My initial assumption was that since it was closer to the bridge, I needed to use more pressure and less speed, but it was not quite right! With insufficient speed, more pressure would "squash" the sound and decrease the total amplitude. I think it is the main "discovery" of today's practice:).

Overall: on the E-string, the maximal amplitude was reached (on the sound point 2) with pressure "7" (on a 1-10 scale) and speed "6" (this was unexpected!). Another discovery was that I had to initialize my down bow much faster than I used to keep the amplitude at maximum. Two findings in 10 minutes. It looks like a good start for today's practice!

Next step - scales. Today I chose to practice melodic A minor (in one octave), starting on the G-string. I want to keep using the full bow and begin with (following S. Fischer again) with the I-IV-V-VIII pattern first. I like that all notes are ringing (no open strings!), and it takes me a while to get the intonation right. At the same time, I tried to keep the maximum amplitude, and I found it surprisingly difficult to keep "all three balls in the air" simultaneously :)), but it settled left-hand shape nicely:). I also noticed that my shoulders are becoming a bit sore, and I already know that it means I am stressed out and need to relax. So, for the next few minutes, I check that I do not tense any muscles I do not need for this exercise:).

Next, I add III and VII. Since it involves the third and fourth fingers, it takes me a while to get it right:)). Finally, I am ready for the full scale. Again takes time for me to improve on it. It is already over an hour of practice (and writing about it :) ), and I am a little tired. So I have to stop. With some luck, I will have one (or two if I am fortunate !!!)) more practice sessions today.

My observations of the final video:

When extending from C to D third finger moved, losing intonation. Remedy: keep the third finger steady when extending to the fourth finger (with a whole step).

G# was slightly low, which caused A and downscale to be slightly lower. Fortunately, I recovered my intonation on the G string due to prior practice.

I still need more practice to use the entire bow from tip to frog.

It looks like I moved my right arm up and down unnecessarily.

I need to keep my left-hand fingers lower.

If you notice anything else, I welcome all constructive comments!

Day 2

It turns out that writing down my thoughts during practice is by itself a powerful teaching tool. It forces me to analyze my practice in much more detail than I usually would. And I remember my thoughts the next day, so they are not lost:)!

Today I again begin with the open strings, but now I was incorporating my discovery yesterday - I need more speed! The tricky point is to maintain the string vibration during the bow changes, and it seems that the trick to prevent the string from “freezing” after the bow change is to keep the bow light and to make the transition soft.

Next, I started again with the I, IV, V,VIII tones in the A minor (I liked how it settled my left-hand shape), but making two notes per bow. But I quickly realize that when I hit the second note, I have the same problem as with the bow change. The string gets “stuck” and does not vibrate at full amplitude. I probably would not notice this problem if I were not looking at the string, but because of my previous exercise, I continued to monitor the string amplitude. And it was quite audible as well. I began to troubleshoot this problem and came to the conclusion that several factors were the key:

I was not lifting and dropping my 4th finger quickly enough.

I slowed down my bow before hitting the string with the fourth finger (especially during the string crossing).

After that, I spend couple more minutes playing A, D,E, and G with two notes per bow and focusing on the following:

All notes are “ringing.”

I use the whole bow and keep it perpendicular to the strings.

I lift and drop my fingers quickly enough.

I keep a constant bow speed.

And, wow, this is already one hour of practice time (together with typing this blog). Times flies fast when you are focused!

From my second practice yesterday, I decided to practice the “tranquillo e dolce” part of Seitz No. 5 (measures 60 to 78), and I knew I had difficulties with my right hand. So I decided on the “bow part” only first, without the left hand to settle my bowing. I planned to spend only a few minutes on it, but, boy, I was wrong! I end up my entire practice session doing just that! I wanted to use the whole bow (and was new to this), but on the other hand, I tried to save the bow in measures where I have three quarters on the down bow and a quarter note on the up bow. Add to this clean string crossing, and it becomes a formidable challenge.

Moreover, in the end, I decided to add dynamics, and it screwed my bow distribution completely, so I had to rethink it again. So, after almost an hour of practice with open strings, I had to stop, not satisfied with the final result. Hopefully, I will have more time for Seitz today.

Also, yesterday I discovered wonderful studies by Pratt and want to try the first one today if I have time:). My goal will be to do a vibrato on half notes and do it musically ( study by itself is simple enough). Here is the link to the study on youtube:

Pratt Study No.1

Day 3

Today's practice of playing on open strings seems to confirm that to maintain maximum amplitude. I need to briefly let go of the string when changing the bow direction. If I continue to press down on the string when stopping the bow, it may not vibrate as effectively.

For my first practice session today (which I consider to be working on violin basics), I plan to add vibrato to Pracht study number 1. I attempted this yesterday during my second practice session (which I consider to be my "repertoire" session), but I struggled with it. The study is quite simple and is considered to be at a beginner level. The problem was that I wanted to do it using the entire bow, and I had never tried to vibrate using the whole bow before.

Before attempting to add vibrato, I first played the study without vibrato to get the pitch and bow distribution correct. I think the study is clearly focused on bow distribution - a half note played with the whole bow, two quarter notes played at the bottom of the bow, one whole note played near the top of the bow, and two quarter notes played in the upper part of the bow.

I planned to vibrate during the half note, but my bow slowed down immediately when I tried this! If I wanted to speed it up, my vibrato became fast and uneven. Therefore, my plan (which I already tried yesterday) is to start vibrating in the middle of the bow and gradually extend to a larger portion of the bow.

I know this is a coordination issue, and it will take a long time to train my brain to do this correctly. However, I enjoy identifying new challenges and finding solutions to overcome them. I will report back tomorrow on how this experiment goes.

Ok, I just wanted to give an update on my progress with vibrato. Things have been going better than expected, thanks to my mind trick of starting with a small vibrato in the middle of the bow for a short period of time and then gradually increasing the duration of the vibrato as I moved the bow to larger portions of the bow. However, after playing the whole study with vibrato, I noticed that my tone and pitch went down (of course!) So, I went back to playing it without vibrato and focused more on maintaining a consistent tone. I also added a metronome to my practice, and wow, I'm not used to playing with one of those! I spent the rest of my first session trying to keep my tempo, pitch, and tone altogether. I'll continue working on this tomorrow and see if adding vibrato causes any problems again.

In my second session, I practiced the beginning of the Seitz concerto No. 5. I played this part before, but now I was doing it seriously for the first time:). So, I spend the entire session on measures 15 to 22. I looked first for the quality of the tone and my right hand. I still can not do it with the whole bow, but that will be my focus for tomorrow's session. It is always good to focus on one particular task until you begin to see progress; after that, you can decide what to do next:).

Next, I checked (with the Intonia application) if I had any systematic problems with my intonation. I always miss some notes slightly, but as long as I know this, it’s Ok to miss a couple of notes (just try to get it right next time :) ). The problem is when you do not notice that you missed it (I have this problem with sharps and flats almost all the time). When I was “satisfied” with my intonation (and, of course, you never are), I added dynamics and vibrato. As usual, things “went South” after I added the vibrato, but it looks like my morning session helped with a more even vibrato than the one I usually have. Finally, I decided to get another layer of complexity. I begin to record myself on video. Turning video on always has a “magic” effect on me and makes me nervous. Especially if I am thinking about sharing it, with all balls in the air, the quality quickly deteriorated, and I realized I was already tired. The iron rule of practice is if quality goes down, you have to stop:).

December 25, 2022 at 03:01 AM · Day 4

Perfect practice makes perfect, and bad practice makes terrible :). The basis of good practice for me is a “constant feedback loop.” Play, analyze, identify problems, and find solutions to correct them.

Today I began (as usual) with open strings, but the challenge is to keep the maximum amplitude while using the entire bow. The problem with the bow change, when the string stops vibrating for a split second, is still present, but my solution seems to work. You need to release the bow from the string (keeping it “light”) and immediately reengage it at the bow change. But now I have noticed another new problem, touching other strings. My bow dips at the bow change, but as I look deeper into why that happens, it seems to be different at the tip and at the frog. At the tip, I “jerk” the bow. I must keep my wrist and fingers still when changing at the tip and not “jerk” my arm. At the frog, it is more complicated. After the bow passes its center of mass, I need to balance its weight with my pinky. Otherwise, it will dip down. So, I practiced looking in the mirror so that my bow would go in a straight line without any jerking motion.

Next, I go back to the melodic A minor, but I want to play it in two octaves (again, one note per bow from tip to the frog). Fischer’s fingering (shifting to the third position from 4 to 1 finger) is too much for me, so I play everything in the first position. Immediately I identify two problems. On the way down, my extension from F to E (on the A string) and half step from F# to G. I have “biggish” fingers, so I need to step on my third finger slightly to keep half step right. Checking my intonation in “Intonia,” I notice a third problem, the E after F on the way down is not straight and slightly wavy. I begin to troubleshoot the last issue. My first guess is that it is the instability of the fourth finger. But when I started to analyze it more carefully, I realized this was a different problem - a string crossing at the frog. The bow trembles slightly because the change is too abrupt. I need to be closer to the A string to make string crossing smoother. I experiment a little bit more with the string crossing at the frog and realize that once I am almost at the double stop, all I need to do for smooth string crossing at the frog is to relax my pinky slightly—these steps (being closer to the A string and relaxing pinky to make string crossing) solves the problem.

It is almost an hour of practice time (together with typing my blog), but I do not yet feel tired and want to do Prat’s study. The problem is with my vibrato. Yesterday I noticed that my bow speed reduced immediately when I began to vibrate. I need to figure out how to maintain the bow speed and vibrato at the same time. This is a coordination problem and my prior habit of doing vibrato with a slow bow. I am not sure I will be able to fix it right away.

I begin to vibrate on my best (third :) ) finger in the way I used to practice vibrato. I listen to the sound and look for a nice smooth wave pattern in “Intonia.” Next, I try to speed up my bow. The wavy line becomes uneven, and I notice that I tense my body. I have to relax first. I focus on making all unnecessary tension disappear for the next few minutes. Relaxing the body is a meditative process. You calm your breath first, ensuring it is even and “sleepy-like.” Next, check out your muscles. Find where you are tense and relax those muscles. Now, I listen to the vibrato sound, and finally, I check the graph in “Intonia.” It worked! The line has a nice smooth wavy pattern. It does not stop to amuse me how 90% of technical issues can be solved if you focus on relaxing your body. I repeat this process on all fingers and get something resembling a vibrato, even with the pinky! But now I have to take a break. I feel tired, and the rest of the practice will become counterproductive.

It is Christmas Eve, but I manage to squeeze in some time for a second practice session. I do measure 19 to 28 (Suzuki book 4, no 2.) No vibrato today, I want to use more bow, and I need to practice my vibrato at a higher bow speed (no vibrato is better than a bad vibrato:) ). Golden rule No.1 of practice is to simplify what you are doing until you can do it well. Otherwise, you will only learn bad habits, and fixing them will take much more effort. The focus is on tone and bow distribution right now. I need to save the bow in measures 22 and 24, but fortunately, dynamics helps with that.

December 26, 2022 at 12:19 AM · Day 5.

Here is a new practice routine for me: Practice. Analyze Write down your observation and make conclusions. Continue your practice. I found those breaks to be extremely useful (so typing the blog during the practice is not a waste of your practice time but an integral part of it:). It allows me to:

Rest and regain my focus.

Write down my observation, so I will remember them later. Formulate what I observed clearly.

Another realization, practice is not about what you play. It is about what I learned from it. Today I started (as usual) with open strings (using an entire bow), but I changed my sound point to no. 4. I was expecting that I would need low pressure and higher speed, but it turned out not to be entirely accurate. The faster the bowing, the more pressure you will need to maintain a good sound. And you still can play forte at sound point 4, but now the problem is that (with faster bow speed AND more weight) the string bends down too much, and you begin to touch other strings. Conclusion: it is not practical to play forte close to the fingerboard, but it might be helpful if you need to play double (maybe even triple?) stops.

Another goal for today I want to work on my vibrato. When I find something I cannot do, it becomes an obsession to get it right. Sometimes it is useful, and I get what I was looking for, and sometimes (when I am not ready yet), it is just a waste of time. But you have to try it first to know:).

Again, as usual, I begin with D on the A string and, for a minute, do a full bow without vibrato to check that I can maintain a consistent tone. Then I add vibrato in the middle of the bow and gradually expand it for larger and larger portions of the bow. It looks like yesterday’s practice was not wasted, and I can produce relatively uniform vibrato. But I noticed two new problems, the tension in my left shoulder and … I hold my breath when vibrating. Have to address them before I move on.

Surprisingly it solves the problem of maintaining the vibrato throw the whole bow (of course, you could not do something for a longer time if you hold your breath :)) )! But my breath is still not natural, and I become light-headed :)). I also notice that I synchronize my breath with the bow (one breath per bow :O ). I still need to bow slowly, so I use sound point 2 (suitable for the A string).

Before increasing the bowing speed (my primary objective), I try to make the vibrato wider (it is too shallow for my taste). I need to relax my fist knuckle and let it bend freely. I can do it with a very slow vibrato, but when it speeds up, my finger tense and the knuckle stop bending. I try to speed up my vibrato gradually, but I have to keep several balls in the air, and they begin to fall. My tone deteriorates, and my body is tense.

I have to stop taking a couple of deep breaths to relax and restart the process. I checked my tone first (no vibrato!) and that my body was not tense. Next, I begin to do a wide and slow vibrato and notice that it is still challenging to maintain it through the whole bow. Solution? I need to practice it more (to make it easier to do) before going to the next step (speeding up vibrato and the bow). It is an excellent time to stop my first practice session.

My second practice session was slightly disappointing. I decided to play Prat’s study again and see if I could incorporate the vibrato on longer notes. Nope, not yet. With full vibrato, my tone suffered miserably. I had to retrace my step and play without vibrato first, but focusing on the tone instead. I tried to add a splash of vibrato at the end, but the final result was far from my goal. The main reason, perhaps I want too much too soon:).

December 27, 2022 at 01:46 AM · Day 6

Today, I came to the conclusion that practicing for 5 minutes and recording your observations/analysis is much more efficient than doing it half an hour later. In only 30 minutes, and I do not remember half of what I was thinking about during the practice! Nevertheless, with open strings, I still have to focus consciously on re-engaging the string after the bow change. Have to do that until my muscle memory takes over and I can add more balls to juggle. Nevertheless, I tried to do a slow down bow, sound point two, and quick up bow on sound point four (Seitz concerto has this bowing pattern). The trick is to keep a consistent tone and make the change of the sound point as silent as possible. The physical motion becomes easier after repetitions, but sound quality needs to be improved.

After open strings, I turned to the vibrato practice. Yesterday's failure to incorporate vibrato in a simple study (but with a much faster bow speed) exposed a weakness I need to address ( we all learn from our failures, not so much from our victories:) ). The vibrato gets better, at least on the Intonia graph. Good amplitude right frequency. The only problem is that it does not sound right to my ear:)). The main problem is that the tone has suffered. Left-hand takes attention away from the right hand, and the bow begins to wander. Combining good tone with good vibrato will be my main priority for the near future.

The last thing for today's practice session is exercises for playing G major in three octaves. I do not worry about the first position, so I begin with the third. I need to find the third position first. Fortunately, I remember a trick that helps me to do that. I know the exact part of my wrist which will touch the violin when I hit D on the second string. After that, I need to drop my finger and (after a couple of tries:)) ) it hits on the target. I still need to become versatile in the third position, so I need to narrow my whole steps. And I really need to step on my fingers to get the half-step to stay in tune. Finally, the fifth position. The key points for me to remember are:

Thumb is directly at the bottom of the violin's neck.

The hand goes around the violin's body

Pinky is curved and ready for the extension

While focusing on all that (and the intonation, of course!) I completely missed that I only use the bottom half of the bow. I had to restart the whole thing but now focusing on my right arm.

Point to remember for the future: keep the hand still when extending the fourth finger, and do not lose the hand position. That concludes my first practice.

For my second part, I thought I would go to the first "fun" part of the Setz concerto (measures 30 to 34 in Suzuki 4.2), but I decided first to check the beginning of the concerto. And got stuck there with multiple problems. First had to get my intonation right in measure 23 (problem from C on the third finger to F on the first). Next, I realized why my vibrato does not work. I was too tense and was overpressing with my fingers. The solution is to separate all my issues and practice them separately, keeping my body and hands relaxed. Slower tempo. When each element becomes easier to do, I combine them. The hardest one is still a vibrato. Relaxation and slow tempo helped to keep it more even (but with a slow bow speed). And I still can not do even vibrato after the accent, but it is getting better, I am sure of it:)).

December 27, 2022 at 11:37 PM · Day 7

I had another realization today. I need to plan my practice ahead (not just do the routine) to maximize efficiency. I now know which problems I must address from yesterday's piece practice, and I need to include them in my first (technical) practice. The difficulties in my practice were

1. Bow trembles on accents.

2. Bowing, slow down bow followed by a fast up bow.

3. Vibrato can do with a slow bow but not with a fast one.

4. Can not do vibrato after the accent (why)?

So, here is the plan for my technical practice.

On the open string:

Start with constant pressure and sound point

1.a. Move away from the bridge but keep the pressure (by increasing the speed). The main focus is on maintaining a constant tone.

b. Changing a sound point in one stroke from 4 to 1 and back (keeping the constant tone)

c. Do slow down bow (moving bow closer to the bridge) and follow with a faster up bow (away from the bridge)

d. Do it with a metronome (2 beats down, one up, three beats down, one up, and so on)

2. Vibrato practice:

a. Regular vibrato. Focusing on relaxing the finger’s first knuckle, removing all unnecessary tension.

b. Gradually increase bow speed, but keep vibrato the same (same amplitude, same frequency).

c. Do accent and vibrato.

Continue the practice of the G major scale in three octaves.

Ok, first update. Small adjustment. Instead of doing a tone production exercise on the open string, I do it on D (A string). It is closer to my goal, and I need to be much more precise on the D string to avoid touching the adjacent strings. Another update, 1.b. turns out to be surprisingly tricky, and I had to break it into smaller steps. Beginning with sound point 2 and going to “2.5” and back, then to 3 and back, and so on.

What a tricky little exercise (1.c)! After 10 minutes (or so) of practice got better, but I need to be careful not to touch other strings. I noticed that at the tip, I was jerking my wrist up at the bow change and touching the E string. Have to keep it still. When moving away from the bridge on the up bow, my bow was moving towards the D string (not quite sure why; it does not happen if I keep the same sound point). My lege hand becomes slightly tired have to check that I am not overpressing with the third finger. Go to vibrato practice now.

Starting very slow (2.5 vibrations per second, according to “Intonia”), with good amplitude (wide vibrato), focusing on the tone, letting the first knuckle bend. Gradually speeding up to five vibrations per second still looks good. And at six, it begins to break out! Less even, my tone suffers as well, and I need to focus more on my right arm now. It does not get better with further practice. It looks like five beats per second is my current limit (the goal is to do six with wide vibrato). Now let’s try other fingers (I was doing everything with the third so far).

Four beats per second, no problem on my second finger, but can I do it faster (with the same width)? I can maintain for 1-2 seconds with six beats per second, but not completely even.

Let’s go to the first one (this one is more difficult for me usually). I immediately notice I become tense. The main difficulty with the first finger is that it is more rigid, and it is harder to make a wide vibrato. I had to start with three beats per second and focus on relaxation and a good tone. How fast can I go? With narrow, vibrato can go to six, but wide is still the goal for the future.

The weakest link (4th finger). The fourth finger is the opposite of the first one. Wide vibrato is not a problem (but a fast one is). Today I can do 5 per second. This is really good!

Finally, let’s try all fingers. Partial success. It has become wider, but it is not consistent enough yet. But this is a long-term project:).

In the evening practice, I wanted to check if my morning practice has improved my vibrato in Prat’s study. The first attempt was a complete failure (I immediately fell down to my previous pattern). But it began to improve after I allowed myself to relax and thought about good wide, even vibrato and good tone. Another important discovery is that you need to start right on the pitch and begin to vibrate only after that. Otherwise, it sounds out of tune. Vibrato goes below and slightly above the pitch (people who claimed that vibrato goes only below the pitch never checked out their own vibrato on Intonia:)) ). And the most important thing for vibrato to sound good is its evenness (perfectly smooth, even wave in Intonia, exactly same width, exactly same height).

December 29, 2022 at 02:28 AM · Day 8

I am a little puzzled why the writing practice diary is not yet a standard teaching method. Aaron Rosan said once that one thing which often distinguishes students who learn faster is the ability to continuously analyze their performance and troubleshoot problems without the teacher’s help. But writing a violin diary makes you exactly that, to identify, analyze, and resolve your problems! I have learned more about playing violin in the last seven days than in the last two months.

Plan for today:

With open strings, check if yesterday's practice is retained.

Another vibrato practice. But the main objective is different - do vibrato, but do not lose tone. Only after that widen the vibrato (keeping tone intact).

Finish what I did not have time to do yesterday (G major scale in three octaves).

Do G major scale with an accent on first now and vibrato.

At the beginning of practice with open strings, I notice that the A string is slightly dull. It turns out it was out of tune. It is interesting how strings become brighter with a ringing tone when perfectly in tune. I think it is due to overtones, but maybe it is also my violin. I am not sure. Also, I was experimenting a little bit with a “flat” bow versus a “tilted” bow (same pressure, same speed, same sound point (but with the flat bow, it is a little bit more challenging to determine the sound point). Again, the flat bow makes a sound slightly more sandy, and with tilted, it is purer. Or maybe all this is because I belong to the “tilted bow club”:)).

Another important observation seems to be that the main reason to keep the pressure low when bowing near the fingerboard is not to dampen the string. The string amplitude is already visible around the fingerboard, and too much weight will stop the string from vibrating freely. To make the string vibrate, you can use mainly speed. And near the bridge, you need to put more weight to initiate string vibration, but after that, you need much less weight to maintain it.

` While doing the change of sound point exercise (with a slow down bow and fast up bow), I was pondering about the “mysterious” figure eight many violinists (like Perelman) were talking about. It happens almost naturally when you change the sound point, but when I rewatched Perelman’s video (The Bow | Itzhak Perlman Teaches Violin | MasterClass), he is not changing his sound point. That made to think about it and run more experiments. What I come up with probably differs from what Perelman had in mind, but nevertheless:)). The explanation I come up with is the “wrist flick.” If at the frog, your wrist “flicks” downward, your bow naturally rotates clockwise, and similarly, if you slightly flick your wrist upward at the tip during the bow change, it rotates counterclockwise. That makes your bow tip draw a very narrow figure 8. It happens for Perelman, Isaac Stern (and many other famous violinists) because their bow is usually not perpendicular to the strings at the tip. I think this is a more natural way to use a full bow at the tip because it requires less effort than extending your arm fully. Additionally, the fully extended arm with a bow perpendicular to the string causes too much strain on my wrist). If it worked for Perelman and Stern, I guess it can work for me, too:)).

Now the vibrato practice. In my video for day seven, my wrist motion was too large. Can I make it smaller? I also want to keep my vibrato wide. I need to put my finger on the pad rather than on a tip. It helps my first knuckle to be looser and makes a wider vibrato with less effort from the wrist. Before vibrating, I first establish my sound (ensuring that my tone is good) and vibrate very slowly. I am using audio-visual feedback (I always do it with vibrato practice), listening to the sound, and looking at the Intonia graph. Both the sound and the graph must be smooth and uniform. I begin to vibrate slowly and gradually speed up. Immediately I noticed that my body began to tense, especially the left shoulder. As a remedy, I vibrate in small “bursts of vibrato,” followed by a pause without a vibrato. After my body became more relaxed, I began to add more beats. My bow wants to slow down when I vibrate, and I try to speed it up instead. It is hard! My vibrato immediately becomes less even. I go down to one vibrato beat. My focus now is to keep bow speed constant. I go to two beats, then to three beats. It is becoming better! I think this is the power of the “audio-visual” approach. The Intonia graph gives you objective feedback. The good sound with excellent vibrato looks like calligraphy. And a bad one as a three old drawing:). I repeat these steps with other fingers, but now I am getting tired, and the quality begins to drop, so I have to stop. But I made good progress today. Here is a summary of what I learned in my first session:

After the string begins to vibrate, you can maintain it with less weight (but still sufficient speed) even when you are close to the bridge.

I should not try to keep my bow perpendicular at the tip. It puts too much strain on my wrist. A slightly angled bow makes bowing easier, and I did not notice any problems with the sound.

When practicing vibrato, I need to do it in small bursts to keep my bow speed constant and to allow my body to relax. Then I can gradually increase the number of beats per burst.

For my evening practice, I was not in the best shape (sleepy for some reason). I started with G major scale in three octaves for a warm-up. I was jump-shifting and repeating the last part in the fifth position to get everything right (my notes from day 6 were very useful in recalling all essential points). Next, I tried to play the entire scale with the Galiamin shift. And I was confused with triplets! It turns out I never practiced triplets on the whole bow and got to spend a couple of minutes on the correct bow distribution.

Finally, back to the Seitz concerto. Today I chose to practice measures 35 to 51 (which I played but did not practice yet). And it was easy! My morning practice with a long down bow and a quick up bow kicked in and made the bowing with these patterns a breath. No vibrato (too unsteady), but bowing becomes much easier, and the sound is better! Despite my sleepiness:).

December 30, 2022 at 05:30 AM · Day 9

I had a small lesson in the morning about how to play “Bolero” by Dancla from op. 126 (6 Petites fantaisies faciles). I did not practice it yet just played through and liked it a lot. And I had a lot of questions too. It is amazing that today you can find a professional violinist who can help you with your “Petites fantaisie” right away:))—another project for the future (and so many are on the way already).

Now back to my fundamentals. I was practicing keeping my whole body relaxed while doing vibrato. Found tension all over my body, especially in my left shoulder. But when I practice sitting, I begin to tense my legs! Also was practicing wider vibrato with the smallest possible motion. I must keep my fingers flat on the string (not on the tip). It works best for me because of the shape of my fingers. I can do it slowly with very little motion, but motion immediately becomes much more extensive when I try to speed up. But if you can do it slowly, you can do it fast, right:)?

Another important thing is not to hold my breath while vibrating, and you could not vibrate for a long in this way. Also, I get the best result when my arm is perpendicular to the fingerboard (unfortunately, this will not work in high positions:) ).

Key points to remember for the future for a better vibrato:

Breath

No tension (especially in the shoulders).

Flat, light, and relaxed fingers.

Begin and end vibrato precisely on the pitch.

Thumb is touching the violin’s neck in the lightest possible way.

Do not slow down your bowing!

After the vibrato practice tried to play Etude No.3 from Dancla op. 86 (36 etudes). Beautiful melodic Etude, but no candy for me. My vibrato immediately gets uneven. But I realized it was not the main problem when I shot a video. My tone becomes uneven as well. I spend the rest of my practice trying to improve the tone, and after I establish the tone, I add just a little bit of vibrato. And it worked! Vibrato did not get better, but the tone was. It is better to get at least one thing right than many things wrong:)).

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