Other misconceptions you've run into?

August 30, 2007 at 03:18 AM · One of my adult fiddle students, who has a great ear and very reasonable (and improving) technique didn't sound so good playing two-string doublestops. His tone and intonation both deteriorated.. When I mentioned my observation,he said he was paying thinking too much about the bow, because he needed to use twice as much weight to make two strings work. Some quick demos convinced him that it is a matter primarily of changing the plane at which the bow glides and keeping the hair flat on both at the same time. An instant improvement, and something really positive to go home and work on. Any similar experiences?

Replies (28)

August 30, 2007 at 04:35 AM · Most of mine I think, were just over enthusiasm. I listen well, index for later use, and so forth. And I had the luxury of having a lot of information surrounding me like Sassmannshaus, teachers and so forth.

I have heard variations of strategies though that were inconsistent from people in the know though--without going into it. But that's ok too.

I think if anything I have experienced more oversights rather than just plain out misguided. One example being not realizing I was using too much force with f1. Another being, it took darn near forever to get my tuck to not look like a statue and start flowing.

I'm sure there must've been a couple in the spirit of your remarks, but they just won't come to me now. I'll have to think about this'n.

August 30, 2007 at 07:28 AM · Sure, I had a teacher who said let the bow rest by its own weight. Don't add any further weight.

For about a year I couldn't get a decent sound except in slow motion.

August 30, 2007 at 03:41 PM · Two things.

First, the misconception that the notes of a scale are sort of equal distance apart like piano keys (of course ignoring the black keys in between). a careful discussion of whole and half steps and scale construction usually does wonders.

Second, almost everyone thinks that they don't have the "talent" to be a lot better than they are. They have a certain half hour to hour practice routine and they settle in to the mind set that the progress they make is somehow intrinsic to themselves. The revelation is when a student, for some reason, really decides to practice correctly for three or four hours a day. Suddenly they are ale to do things that were previously unimaginable to them. It is like magic.

August 30, 2007 at 08:11 PM · Biggest misconception I ever had:

"Hey, I was an excellent cellist years ago, so switching to the violin should be reltively easy!"

Oh man.............

August 31, 2007 at 02:55 PM · As stated previously, the importance of practice. Most adult beginners that I have encountered do not have the time to dedicate several hours a day to solid, focused practice.

They resign themselves to not progressing and impatience seeps in, then discouragement and finally quitting.

It never ceases to amaze me, whether your discipline is violin, martial arts, or unicycle riding, practice is paramount to developement. It does seem magical to have those seemingly sudden break throughs. I encounter them myself all the time. It is a direct reflection on how much I practice and how focused I am when I practice.

When ever my wonderful teacher gives me guidance, I have those moments of discovery. That is why I recommend a teacher to everyone. Trying to learn this on your own is a lonely road traveled in the dark.

August 31, 2007 at 09:41 PM · John,

You're certainly right about that. :) Every lesson, my instructor shows me something new. He knows how eager I am to learn advanced techniques, so he shows me how to do such things, even though he thinks I'm months if not years away from being far enough along to do them. But, I think he shows me anyway, because he knows I'm going to try to figure these things out on my own if I have to, and he'd rather show me the right way to do them, rather than let me develop tons of bad habits that might be impossible to break down the road.

So, every time he shows me something particularly challenging, I go home and practice the hell out of it, and before I know it, I'm not only doing respectably well with that technique, but so many other little things that I should've already learned seem to fall into place on their own. It's a constant source of encouragement.

It reminds me of my second year of Latin in high school. Our teacher had us translate the entire story of "Jason and the Argonauts" from Latin to English right from the get-go. In the last week of the fall semester, half-way through the school year, we finished. He then told us to open our text-books to the very last page. That, he said, was where we were in our studies. He pushed us to do what we thought would be an impossible task, and along the way, we learned more than we would've had we been led to believe we HAD to learn in a very specific order and method. Needless to say, the spring semester was a breeze, because, well, we didn't have to do anything. It was just a nice hour to sit around and goof off. ;)

So, I'd challenge anyone to try to do the hard things first, and watch how quickly the easy things just kind of happen on their own. It's fun, and absolutely rewarding! :)

August 31, 2007 at 11:00 PM · Second, almost everyone thinks that they don't have the "talent" to be a lot better than they are.

This, and not having the right set up led me to give up the first time around as a kid. If only I had known then what I know now, (though a more appropriate set up would have helped). Certainly with some serious work one can make progress. No point in crying over spilt milk. I'm working now!

September 1, 2007 at 06:59 AM · Great topic Sue!

Over the years, I had all sorts of misconceptions that hindered my progress. I'm going to list just 10 of them:

1. I’ve taught myself a lot of all sorts of things so I can teach myself to play the violin.

2. To have a big sound, I must press the bow.

3. To play with a lot of bow or a fast bow looks more professional (like Heifetz…)

4. When shift, focus on the finger that is reaching the note and the hand will just follow.

5. Practice makes perfect. So the more I practice, the better I’ll play.

6. I’ve learned the piece as soon as I can play it in tempo without mistakes.

7. My violin doesn’t sound so good (scratchy, bland, not complex,etc.) – I need a better violin or a better bow.

8. Since I’m not going to be a soloist I don’t need to learn major concerti or anything virtuosoic.

9.Scales are boring.

10.Etudes are boring.

I have good reasons to believe the above are all clearly misconceptions but if any of you think nothing is wrong with some of them, I’d like to hear that.

September 1, 2007 at 07:19 AM · Greetings,

any practice period less than an hour is valueless although Galamian students are allowed to cut back to fifty minutes , perhaps because they were getting better instruction...



September 1, 2007 at 06:41 PM · Yes, practice too little is useless but may be better than practice too much without really knowing how to practice. Mindless repetition for hours does one more harm than not practicing at all because doing the latter, at least we don't create bad habits. I learned from somewhere that if we repeat something over a thousand times, our body will do it automatically and it’ll be extremely if not impossible to correct it if it’s a bad habit.

Everyone knows good practice is all about quality rather than how many hours one puts in each day, but not every student knows how to practice smart. Some teachers I had in the past didn't bother to teach me that. They tended to be focusing only on what I produced during the lessons – it was whether I was well prepared or not for the lessons, as opposed to why I wasn’t prepared for this lesson and why my hard work at home didn’t pay. Good teachers (such as the one I’m with now) can immediately spot whether it’s my practice issue, my setup, the way I use my head, fingers, hands, arms or my body, or whether it’s my lack of understanding on how a particular passage supposed to sound, etc., and work on the specific issue separately. I’ve been giving quite a bit of thinking on how to practice for some time but until my teacher showed me, generally as well as on a case-by-case basis, I would say that I never had a clue what good/smart practice is.

September 1, 2007 at 06:44 PM · If x is good, its opposite must be bad, and vice versa. It's so easy to fall into that one without even being aware of it.

September 1, 2007 at 07:03 PM · I don't know, Megan, I certainly don't think things are that black and white in anything. Maybe you are talking about something else.

September 1, 2007 at 07:05 PM · And if x is good, is xxx three times better?

September 1, 2007 at 07:15 PM · It's easy as a kid, I think, to think this way, and I've always been one who oscillates between 'extremes' and gradually comes to the middle. In my first quartet coaching in San Francisco, we were shown how to make a 'real' sound, i.e. to play with the bow right next to the bridge. I only realised years later that I had internalised that as the ideal sound, only moving away from it for an intended flautando. It's more subliminal than it might seem from the way I'm describing it, though.

September 1, 2007 at 07:28 PM · And if x is bad, then 2x is good.

Seriously, I get you, Megan. Our mind tend to work really well anything binary. I often have a chuckle when people start to analyze something with “there’ are a couple of issues here.” It’s always two and rarely three or more…:)

September 1, 2007 at 07:32 PM · If x was bad, 2x would be twice as bad. But x^2 would be good, since x is negative.

September 1, 2007 at 07:36 PM · Ooops, Yixi, I completely missed that one!

September 1, 2007 at 07:41 PM · "“there’ are a couple of issues here.” It’s always two and rarely three or more…:) "

You've just been lucky. I always get dozens.

September 1, 2007 at 07:45 PM · 2x = x times x. No? Sorry, I've forgot my math.

September 1, 2007 at 07:56 PM · 2x means 2 times x.

September 1, 2007 at 08:00 PM · Comes to think of it, it really depends on what symbolized system you are using. I don’t think the system I was taught treats 2x as x+x but is x times x. But anything symbolic is of no significance unless they don’t serve the concept. In this case, we’ve got the same concept with different symbols. Very smart indeed!

September 1, 2007 at 08:08 PM · I'm pretty sure it's universal.

Your assignment is:

Solve 5x = 0 for x.

hint: it will work either way :)

September 1, 2007 at 08:07 PM · Ooh! Jim you are absolutely right! I don't know what I was thinking. They say Chinese are good at math and for a minute I believed it:)

September 1, 2007 at 08:14 PM · Believe it! Easy to get a little rusty though I guess. Law is about as unmathematical as you can get:)

September 1, 2007 at 08:17 PM · Yeah, unless you do money law, which I avoid like plague.

September 1, 2007 at 08:19 PM · What?! What?! That sounds like the best kind.

September 1, 2007 at 08:21 PM · now this is a misconception -- back to our topic;)

September 1, 2007 at 08:26 PM · LOL

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