July 19, 2013 at 2:10 PMWhen did you first learn to tune your violin?
The process involves two separate issues: the aural and the physical. You must learn how to match pitches and to hear the fifths you violin; and you must learn how to turn the pegs and fine tuner(s) on your violin in the right direction and just the right amount. When you get good at it, you should be able to turn those pegs without taking the fiddle down from your shoulder
I still remember one of my very earliest solo tuning sessions: getting completely lost aurally and making a complete mess of it! But one has to be able to experiment and make some mistakes in order to learn. Also, as a teacher, I have to fight the fact that it's just easier to tune a student's instrument than it is to take 15 or 20 minutes of the lesson to help them learn to tune. But those are well-spent minutes, if a student can learn to tune for themselves!
When did you learn to tune, and what were your experiences with learning to tune? Did anything help you a great deal with the process of learning this skill?
When learning to tune, they learn:
- to listen while playing, to take over the A and learn to hear the fifths
- to have a good violin hold, because they need there left hand to tune and they must be able to hold the violin without supporting it with their left hand
- to play their first double stops on two open strings
- to multi-task doing all this together
As in the beginning it's important to learn to intonate... I think tuning must be taught as early as possible, so students play on a tuned instrument at home when they practice.
If it's too early to learn a student tune with a tuning fork, I insist that they buy a electronic tuner or download a tuning app on their smartphone (there are several good ones for free!) and use that until they are able to tune their violin with a tuning fork.
Just my humble opinion ;)
I remember my teacher covering the basics of tuning at the first lesson. Soon I could tell when the 5ths sounded pure and when one or more strings had drifted off pitch and needed adjusting.
Most of my students learn the aural part within their first year, as I have them listen and tell me too high, too low, when to stop, etc. The physical is harder when you are a little person with uncooperative fine tuners or pegs. Depending on age I would say it takes sometimes several years to be physically able to fully master that. I try to teach fine tuners around age 7 and show mom and dad how to do the pegs--usually if they can do the tuning and the child can do the listening they'll come out ok :)
When I started lessons at age 9 (after about two years of playing), my teacher recommended that I start in the small orchestra she conducted. At my first rehearsal, she pulled out a tuning fork and gave an A. Everyone started tuning just like orchestras do. I had never heard of such a thing!
At my next lesson, I asked my teacher what that was. She happily told my by un-tuning my violin. She then tuned the A to a tuning fork, and I told her how (bring it up, down, etc.). After correcting the A, she played the D and A together. Without any instruction on how to do it, I immediately knew the answer. We continued, tuning the G and the E until the violin was tuned correctly.
When I tried to explain the process to my mom, I remember telling her, "You kind of think as if you were playing the first two notes of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star."
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