How can I move forward?

December 16, 2006 at 06:48 PM · Hi.I am an adult beginner, and have been playing now for about 8 years and loving it. I progressed almost to the end of Suzuki Book 5. I think the thing I learned the most last year, after countless scales in all keys was to listen to myself!

I try and practice between 30 minutes and an hour a day..not much time, but all I can afford right now. I also am not currently taking lessons, but desperately want to improve my skills. My goal is to one day work at playing the Bach sonatas and Partitas.

How can I best go about achieving this goal? I currently do some Kreutzer (#2, 3, 4 and 7), scales every day, bowing exercises and then play. When I play, I am mainly Scottish Fiddling, but that is not my only interest in the violin.

I would also like to play with teh community orchestra one day.

Any suggestions would be appreciated. I just don't know whether I should finish the Suzuki books as best as I can or do something different. I realize tha some lessons would be the best, but that is not currently an option.

Replies (31)

December 16, 2006 at 07:40 PM · With eight years and Suzuki 5 in the mix, I hope you are getting out there and playing with others is one thing I see--but I'm guessing/hoping you already are.

Also, consider searching for more advancing song books that have CD accompaniements if you are in a rural situation or something.

This will sound a little weird, but think deeply about, and feel yourself achieving your goals.

December 16, 2006 at 09:13 PM · Since you know what you want to play, go ahead and do it! Not all the movements in the Bach S/P are equal, so choose one that would be fun and moderately challenging to get a start on your project. Since you've already played both parts of the Bach Double, maybe the last movements of the g minor sonata or C Major sonata?

December 16, 2006 at 10:23 PM · Greetings,

to second what Nathan said, you can actually play anyhing if you do it slowly enpugh and break it down into small enoughunits,



December 16, 2006 at 10:31 PM · Hereabouts there are a number of community orchestras, several of which would be delighted to have a player advanced to Suzuki 5. Do you practice sight-reading to a metronome and note-reading in general? That would help you not feel overwhelmed with sound when you start in an orchestra. As to the Bach, I would suggest you get a CD of which ever virtuoso you really like and listen to it a few hundred times. That will make the playing so much easier. Sue

December 16, 2006 at 11:42 PM · I'm in a similar position. I've played since I was a kid, but I'm an amateur and haven't had a formal lesson (although I've had some coaching) in at least 15 years. And even when I took lessons, I've never worked formally on any of the movements of the Bach Sonatas & Partitas. But I love those pieces so much and have spent so much time over the years trying to bumble my way through them, that a couple of movements here and there are almost presentable.

So, my unprofessional advice is...go for it.


December 16, 2006 at 11:59 PM · Thanks for the advice. I do play with other people, and no, I do not "practice" sight reading, which is a weak point, so that is a good idea. I have all the great Bach...Szeryng, late Milstein, Grimeaux...

In particular, are there any other Kreeutzer exercises to work on right now, or work through all the variations of the ones I already mentioned?

Would the Fischer book "Practice" be helpful to me?

December 17, 2006 at 12:39 AM · The Fisher books 'Basics' and 'Practice' I consider indispensible, especially for late starters (like me), who want a really logical analysis of how the thing works. They are especially good for someone like me who has no 'talent' and has to work everything out step by step. But obviously, since the exercises come from Dorothy Delay and her predecessors, the books would also be of great value to talented people.

December 17, 2006 at 01:09 AM · I'd suggest to practice scales in thirds, sixth and octaves. And also find etudes for practicing chords. In Suzuki Book4, you met some simple doubles, but it is not enough. And also it is good to practice detache and slurs in different combinations (see options for Kreytzer's Etude #2). Best of luck!

December 17, 2006 at 01:35 AM · Hi Blaine,

I am in a somewhat similar posisition. I took violin lessons (in East Germany) for 10 years but then didnt play classical violin for 10 years (have been playing in bands and experimental groups) and I am starting up again.

I am currently playing a couple of movements in the partitas. I can recommend the first movement (Allemanda) of the partita no 2 in d-minor (this partitate is the one that ends in the famous incredibly difficult Chaconne). If you listen to Kremer's or Perlman's recording of this movement you can hear that it is actually being played relatively slow. It has a couple of double stop and shifting challenges but I think it is very suitable for an intermediate student level. The difficulty in that piece is not so much playing the correct notes but bringing out the voices hidden in the appregios. Another movement that may be approachable in this partita is the gigue, it is usually played/recorded at a breakneck speed, but even if played more slowly is still incredibly beautiful.

Studies that have helped me are Carl Flesh's Basic Studies and Basics mentioned before.

Finally, I am taking lessons every week and find a way to fit it into my job schedule. I tried practicing on my own for a couple months before that but once I took lessons with an awesome teacher I feel tangible progress by the week. If you can afford the money and time for lessons, even if only every couple of weeks go for it! You'll save yourself a lot of practice time on your own in the long term

December 17, 2006 at 03:20 AM · Greetings,

I am not so sre that you need the Kreutzer so much here. I think a really good scale book like the Barbara `Scales for advanced violints` (actually a very accessible version of the Galamian manual- very sensible and helpful ay your level) plus Mazas etudes and play around with the bowing exericses in Basics.Also have a look at the books `Melodious Double stops ` by Joephine Trott and then Polo studies in double stopping. Also Schradieck played with a lot of diffenmret bowing techniques is a great way to leanr the fingerboard. I prefer this to Sevcik by a long way. Mor emusical in my opinon.





December 17, 2006 at 03:23 AM · Hey Blaine, ( I had a great-uncle named Blaine...)

I understand the desire to play Bach. The S&Ps are my favorite pieces to play and practice. If you feel a little intimidated, why don't you try the violin arrangements of the Six Cello Suites? I bought these awhile back, and most of them are easier to deal with than the S&Ps.

They really don't sound as good on violin as they do on cello, and the transposition feels strange, but it can be good fun. The edition I have is by Ricordi, which also isn't that great...but I just re-fingered a lot of it.

December 17, 2006 at 04:01 AM · Buri...and buri ( al)that is it.."learning the fingerboard"...I can play what I "learn" ok...I know I need to practice string intonation is pretty good because I listen to myself...but I have expressed before, to my then teacher., that even though I know what I know, I don't feel like I can really "play" the violin. This has been a little frustrating on and the time, she suggested we do some types of jazz stuff, sort of a call and then an answer, all improvved(sp?)...this was a little help, but like you say, "knowing" the fingerboard is a little elusive. I know when I am in 2nd, 3rd or whatever position, and can get to the other notes based on intervals, but if I had to stop and say "where am I now", it would take a little time to figure out, if that makes sense.

p.s. I was named after an uncle , "Father Blaine"...if only I could be so saintly..hehehe

December 17, 2006 at 12:13 PM · Greetings,

I have never sat down and forally studie dindividual positons. I always knew instinctively where any note was on the finger board. But some times it really c;ears the head, especially after say a long week of rehearsal and what not, to sit down with a book like Scradieck, or one of the Rode caprices that stay in one psotion and jst polish thta position over and over.



December 17, 2006 at 09:08 PM · Does anyone know where to get S&P CD by Szigeti? We have everyone else's except Szigeti's and would love to have it. Thanks.


December 17, 2006 at 09:34 PM · Szigeti playing Bach is available on

December 17, 2006 at 10:41 PM · Greetings,

you have everyone elses? !;)

Do you have the verison by Enescu? ther eis a lot to be learnt form that one.



December 17, 2006 at 11:04 PM · I do. My CD's are for listening.


December 17, 2006 at 11:32 PM · yes. a learning process occurs simultaneously.Be interetse dto hear wat you have outside the usual culprits. Helps me find gaps in my collection.



December 17, 2006 at 11:33 PM · I bet you don't have Rebekah Johnson. It was on Amazon for awhile, don't know about now. There's a lot to be learned from it too, namely that anyone who can play these well should record them and make them available, not that her's isn't outstanding. Use the recorder you got for your birthday when you were 10 if you have to. As for how you start, move forward as you put it, well you just start.

December 18, 2006 at 01:05 AM · Sorry, my "everyone" only includes the usual culprits. Should have realized the uproar unqualified use of "everyone" would bring. Back to Szigeti. Does anyone know where I can get it?


December 18, 2006 at 01:25 AM · greetings,

not an uproar. Just curious. There is a lot of good new stuff coming out as well as the golden oldies. Messrs. Tetzlaff, Gringolt, etc



December 18, 2006 at 01:29 AM · I am very interested to see the advice: go for it. I am in the latter half of Suzuki 4, so not up there with Blaine, but in general I have resisted trying all the beautiful music I would like to play some day. The reason is, in my classical guitar playing days, I learned many pieces too hard for me, and found that it was very difficult to relearn them later (for example to get rid of irregularities of emphasis and timing). So I fear that if I learn things on the violin ahead of my level, when my technique is not that good, I'll spoil it for later. What do you think?

December 18, 2006 at 01:34 AM · I am afraid there is nothing you can learn from me that you don't already know. Will keep an eye out for new recordings. Thanks.


December 18, 2006 at 03:43 AM · You highlighed your most direct direction--sightreading with metronome--focus on that. You've already proven your discipline, and I'm hearing consistency. I 'discover' a weakness, and sometime 'I get it' and sometimes I don't--until I've stumbled long enough.

I'm still going back and reading notes Buri, Sue. B, Susan D. and Jee Won shared--uh, I didn't get it? But now I do... al

December 18, 2006 at 02:55 PM · I don't get it...sorry

Yes, I need to spend time at sight reaading, and from what I garner, go through the Shradieck and/or Mazas. Is this sufficient to last for a while? What music should I sight read? Just pick something in different keys, I would suppose.

December 18, 2006 at 10:53 PM · Greetings,

you could investigate early Italian baroque music. There are some fine compedndiums by Henle, for example. The corelli sonata are beautiful. They segue into the Handel sonatas of which the one in f major is a good start point. At least three are indispensible parts of the repertoire. Work on your sound with singin pieces like Thais Meditation



December 19, 2006 at 05:50 PM · Pulled out the Op 5 Corelli recording I have and am giving it a listen...some of this may be manageable..I suppose I am also wondering if anyone thinks that I should continue as I can with the Suzuki repertoire? I wish there were more Romantic literaure in the curriculum, but will it be a solid foundation to grow from there...I know this may take a while to accomplish...I'd like to say I'm in no hurry and I guess I'm not, but I can become impatient at times.

December 20, 2006 at 01:52 AM · Greetings,

if you want good advice on the Mazas and other etudes then chekc out this excellent web site,

I also noticed that you want to play in the community orchestra one day. That is a really excellent goal and if you were to move that center stage, as it were, by posing the question not `How can I be a good violinist?` but ratehr `What do I need to do in order to play in an orchestra?` you might find some kind of shift in your practicing as well. I think the reaosn is that the firts question is not actually a very focused goal while the latte ris, and the more focuse dyour goals are the better your practice will be.

It might for example, suggest to you that listening to recoridngs and studying scores, reading about the composers behind the symphony, is as much praciticng as picking up the instrument...



December 24, 2006 at 08:35 AM · What is it that attracts you to Bach sonatas and Partitas?

December 24, 2006 at 02:39 PM · To add to what Bruri said, playing in an orchestra also has the advantage of forcing you to read a lot of music not of your choosing, with a deadline. That will, all by itself, increase your facility on the fingerboard, and your confidence.

Once you get into the orchestra, listen carefully to all the instructions from the conductor and concertmaster, like what part of the bow to use, how to get bounce, and when, placing the bow on the string before starting a note, placing the finger on the string before playing a pizzicato note, etc. All these picayune details serve to improve your playing.

December 25, 2006 at 03:28 PM · I have a personal goal of the Bach S&P's because it gives me some of the most beautiful music I know of, and it is (almost) accessible. I am realistic enough to know that I will never be able to play some or even most of the repertoire out there, but the Bach gives me a somewhat realistic goal to work towards, and if I can even get to the point that I am able to make them somewhat musical, then I will be happy. Not that I am not happy with the journey, because I am. I am just not content to stay at my current skill level for the rest of my life.

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