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Karen Allendoerfer

Not ready for prime time

November 13, 2006 at 4:39 AM

So I didn't call the piano teacher for my daughter. But, surprise, he called me back. And then he came over. My daughter was enchanted. I think she likes piano better than violin right now. He talks a little above her head at times, but she seems to like the challenge, and he's going to do a lot of the music reading and rhythm exercises that have been discussed elsewhere, and he talked to her about writing her own music, which she thought was great. I was feeling like it was a bit too much to do all on my own, but these recreational piano lessons seem just right. And the teacher has a gentle, friendly manner, which she really warmed up to. Even though she said otherwise at first, I thought a male teacher would be fine as long as he was nice, and I think I was right.

Then I recorded myself playing Telemann using my digital camera. It wasn't as bad as I feared. I don't look stiff or too amateurish, and my bow is mostly straight. My intonation isn't too bad and my tempo is good. My dynamics were at least audible.

But it wasn't great either. I seem to be able to play in only one place between the bridge and the fingerboard. If I get much less than a centimeter close to the bridge with my bow it sounds scratchy yet superficial. If I apply more pressure, it sounds less superficial but still scratchy. And if I get too close to the fingerboard I don't project and it just feels awkward. These things were true on the violin too I guess, but here on the viola they seem exaggerated and as if I have no margin for error, or really for changing my sound at all. It's like, the sweet spot or nothing. Is that normal?

From Scott 68
Posted on November 13, 2006 at 3:40 PM
curious, have you dried a different bow
From jennifer steinfeldt warren
Posted on November 13, 2006 at 6:00 PM
I have noticed that to some extent on the viola as well...but it was SOOO obvious when I played cello. I couldn't figure out why my teacher was always telling me to play closer to the fingerboard when it sounded most aweful there.

But...I was using a school un-cared for bow and a school cello.

And my viola bow needs rehairing desperately.

So I second the questioning of your bow quality.


From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on November 13, 2006 at 8:51 PM
Thanks! The bow, like the viola, is an allegedly "top of the line" rental. When I picked it up, I didn't like the bow as much as I like my violin bow (which I own), but I just thought it was a viola-ish thing and I'd get used to it. But maybe not. The viola itself seems well cared-for by the shop but the bow looks a little dodgy and grungy, frankly, although the hair isn't thin. At least I have something specific to complain about when I try to exchange it.

I'm thinking about buying a viola and bow in the spring when they double the rental equity that they give you towards purchase, so maybe I can try out something nicer on the excuse that I'm looking to buy.

What about rosin? Do I need different rosin on viola than violin? I've been using some old Hill rosin that I bought years ago and that probably needs to be replaced for the violin, too.

From jennifer steinfeldt warren
Posted on November 13, 2006 at 11:13 PM
Well, with my weathered bow, I have to use two different rosins. This might not be good advice, someone say so if not...

I use Hill CELLO rosin (dark) on the viola bow when I first pick it up to practice. Then I use a light Hidersine violin bow as needed throughout the day. I find the cello rosin gets the violin rosin to stay on the bow better.

Just me, though.


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