Vent your frustrations!

July 3, 2009 at 01:56 AM ·

What are your current violin frustrations?  A piece not coming together for you?  One measure holding up your learning a piece?  Scheduling conflicts with you and your teacher because it's the summer?  Violin not staying in tune?  I think you get the idea.  So what's yours?

Well, this is mine : around the 1:53 mark.  It's frustratingly "simple" in the music but translated into my hard-headedness in "practicing" things @ tempo and my unforgivingly big fingers, it's a headache.

I'm just venting right now, but hopefully tomorrow or my next practice session I will laught at myself and dust off my metronome and get down to business.  But not right now.


Replies (56)

July 3, 2009 at 02:29 AM ·

I play in a string quartet as well as a piano trio.  While playing, I sound damn good, but then I listen to a recording, and ewww.  It's amazing how recordings keep us grounded.  I think my main struggle is keeping a relaxed and consistent vibrato.  If I try to vibrate every note, my intonation goes to pot.  And when you don't vibrate, it just sounds blah.  I may post a video to see if I can get any pointers.


July 3, 2009 at 02:23 PM ·

I think my biggest frustration is that my teacher gives me way too much stuff to practice in between lessons.  I can pretty much manage an hour a day (which I do every day religiously), more on the weekends ... for about a total of 10 to 12 hours a week. 

I've only been playing a few weeks, and I've really made some great progress, but I haven't the stamina built up yet to do more even with frequent short breaks  After an hour, my arms and hands are just too fatigued to be productive ... Intonation goes to hell, hand position can't be maintained, the instrument starts to droop in relation to the rest of me.  On weekends I can get a couple of hours in a day  if  I give it enough of a break in between.  I've mentioned this to her, but her standard response is ... you have to get this stuff down.  Granted, she is correct on that, but I can really only focus on a couple of things each week, otherwise I'm all over the place and can't accomplish anything.  Consequently I have to make choices as to what I'm actually gonig to work on.  Of course, when the lesson rolls around and I get the inevitable question ... did you do this? or did you do that? For some if it Ihave to say no.  And repeat my complaint. 

Its not that I don't want to do the work, but seriouisly, how much can I do before I'm not giving any of it proper attention?  Bowing straight and intonation are always my focus right now, as it still takes so much concentration to keep those in line.  So I tend to focus on those exercises that will help those out and only branch out from there after I done sufficient work..  Seems to work out to about 45 on bowing and intonation and 15 left for everything else, including the more escoteric bowing exercies and the pieces I'm to work on.  Which now she wants in both major and minor keys.  This is an added 1/2 hour at least.  Toss in some double stops ... I'm toast!

I am not going to change teachers over this, she's amazing in so many other areas, and I've made such good progress.  But, this one thing is really frustrating me, and talkng falls on deaf ears. 

(sigh), what to do .....

July 3, 2009 at 05:00 PM ·

Can I have a longer pinky?

July 3, 2009 at 07:06 PM ·

Thanks guys.

July 3, 2009 at 07:09 PM ·

Learning to keep time , ....My teacher is trying to get me to tap my hoof as I try to play .... I am not finding it easy ... I am sure there are other mistakes and bad form /postion , , sound etc etc ,,  that I will need much practice to correct , but until I learn to break this timing issue .... I am the master of noise much to my shame .... I keep trying and practicing I will learn to play well ....

 Bill G.

July 3, 2009 at 10:32 PM ·

Nice post, Steven.

With any learning experience, it's a matter of committing certain things to "automatic", before one can succesfully take on new learning.

July 3, 2009 at 11:43 PM ·

After a ton of rain and humidity this year, I ditched the Passione strings, and went back to Obligatos.  As nice as they sounded, they just weren't worth the hassle.  The Passiones acted up every time it rained, or was humid.  It was SO frustrating that they wouldn't speak easily, and there were days that the entire A string was one long wolf.  Practicing the Bach A Minor Fugue actually brought me to tears once.  Bleh.

With that frustration out of the system, it has been most annoying to practice Flesch G-Flat Major and have a nasty wolf on the high E String D-Flat.  Grr.

Thanks, I feel better now.  (Insert smiley face here)

July 4, 2009 at 12:45 AM ·

Want to know what is really on my heart since quite a moment?

Studies studies studies in something I hate (note, I hate or "like much less is maybe more appropriate" almost everything that is not violin :) Call me unbalanced if you want lol  And less and less time for violin.  I often feel that I play for nothing since I can hardly practice.  It creates a terrible difference between my head (that doesn't loose it's technique nor its love for violin by not practicing) and body. It is also because every level that is collegial and more in violin need many hours a day.   The problem is motivation. How can you assist to your "self destruction" musically I mean, without feeling terrible.  (even if I do it with the idea of one day having more time bla bla, the present is such a crual reality for any youngs in my situation! )

Gee I love you all v.commers to do such a confession but this was a discussion for this!  Sorry for expressing my fiery anger here... 



July 4, 2009 at 12:50 AM ·

Ann-Marie, that's what I wanted.  I was so frustrated yesterday that I just wondering if other people were like this- and guess what?  YOU GUYS ARE! :)  keep them coming.

July 4, 2009 at 07:15 PM ·

For three months I've been working on Bachs double Concerto in D minor, 2nd violin.  I'ed practice, several hours, day after day and just can't understand why I cannot remember the patterns..... and repeat the same mistakes and looking ahead reading the music aware of what's coming up and still!!! Screw up!  So I put it down for a week or more and picked it back up.  Wow, I don't know if it gave my mind time to get it together or what but I have been playing it better than I ever thought I would at this point!  The desire for excellence must fuel the drive to over ride the effects of disheartenment I guess?  i don't know... If I could figure it out I would write a book! LOL! (Insert smiley face).

July 4, 2009 at 07:05 PM ·

Recently I have been practicing the 2nd violin part to Bizet's opera Carmen which I will be performing shortly in Boston. Everytime I return to a section which I worked so hard on the day earlier, it is nowhere near where it should be and i feel like all the hours spent practicing are to waste. I am getting very discuraged that I will never be able to play most of the fast runs up to speed

July 5, 2009 at 05:35 PM ·

Maybe venting some of this will be theraputic.  I'll start with the good news.  My daughter was born on June 22'nd and she's happy, healthy, and enjoys listening to violin solo CD's to relax.

My three year old son is adjusting well considering the new family member.  But he's gotten really weird about violin practice.  Some days he just doesn't want to play.  Other days he insists on practicing late at night, but then will declare he's done and lay flat on the floor limp.  I hardly get any time to practice if at all.  I did get a little time to play, which was wonderful.  My son fell asleep through the last violin lesson, so I got the entire time to review what I've learned.

Everyone at work is very supportive and understanding.  Product schedules, however, don't change because someone has an important "life event."  I'm scheduled for more business travel and get to work over the 4'th of July weekend in order to prepare for the trip.  My wife is wonderfully supportive and doing what she can to let me sleep through the night with an infant in the house.  Yet I feel bad about it all.  I keep thinking that if the job is not compatible with my family, then it's easier to find a new job than to find a new family.

Anyhow, coffee break is over.  Back to work.

July 5, 2009 at 09:34 PM ·


Congratulations on your daughter - I'm sure she's beautiful!

July 5, 2009 at 10:10 PM ·

I got no teacher for the whole summer, and possibly also this coming fall. (school starts in aug., here), that is because the last teacher is getting married and quit teaching to start a marital life. Some teacher are available but way too far out from me, and their adult schedules doesn't work with mine.

To give yo'all an idea, I live in an area that "arts" is not too hot or the residents are too stiff neck to appreciate it. No community orchestra or whatsoever. There's a college but no music group at all, and there is a Univerysity but the music dept are on the far south campus, thus, zippo here. ACMP member are not around at least in my area this time of the year, for they're all "snow birds", meaning that they live here during late Fall and early Spring, so no one to play with.

I have been working on Cantabile in D major by Paganini, and for some reason I just can't hit the high note B. Last time I play was last May, saw my violin staring at me 2x last June, untill I put it back  in the case, and today, starting to work on the piece again, no good. Agghhhh!

Frustrations? oh no, not me! (Wink! ;) Wink! ;) )

July 5, 2009 at 11:45 PM ·

Elinor, welcome in the club. I live near a big  city but just a little too far for me to go on regular basis.... (my teacher lives between the two so I go at her house thank god)

The result: for now, the only musicians I have contact with (except my teacher) is all you v.commers.  Very good ones I know : )  but this doesn't bring real musicians around me in my life.   This isolation is a musician's soul killing in my mind. I live on the hope that it is temporary...  

Another frustration I just had to vent... : )


July 6, 2009 at 01:11 AM ·

Hi Anne-Marie..boy! don't we all have this feeling! My problem is more of time/scheduling, I have to work first and foremost.  Though, as much as I want to learn, it has to wait till my working schedule let up a little bit, untill then, I have no time at all.

With the anticipation of my last teacher quitting for a marital bliss, I recorded some our lessons together, that way I have some to work on, for the meantime, I miss her a lot, and she has become a great friend to me, not only that, with her, I moved from beginner to pre advanced level  for just over 3 years, so wherever I am now, is because of her tolerance to me. I owe it to her big time!

Never in my dreams I will be where I am, considering that I have no background music at all. Damn!

July 6, 2009 at 01:43 AM ·

Elinor, I'm sorry about all of your problems.  To quote a famous movie "The night is always darkest just before dawn" (or something like that).  Just stay patient. we are here for you, in spirit.

July 6, 2009 at 01:50 AM ·

Thank's Michael! Actually I've been browsing in some old threads about techniques, and some with Drew Lecher's and Buri's blogs.

This site and all of  you has been a tremendous help to me.

Awww..i love you all guys! (tears! tears!)

Seriously, thank's to all of you so, so much!

July 6, 2009 at 02:04 AM ·


If you find out where to get that pinky, let me know too!

July 6, 2009 at 12:30 PM ·

Maybe Heifetz finally found one.

July 6, 2009 at 03:09 PM ·

By the way, are they others in the "  too weak and small fingers frustrated owners club" ???   I am an avid member of this club : )   Oh, not to forget the giraffe club, another one where my membership is very strong  : )          

Since I read the word pinky form a poster I couldn't resist to put others of my big mega frustrations... 

This thread is the equivalent of my blackboard at home where I write what is going wrong + draw the school teachers I hate beeing kind of slightly mistreated... (yes, I still do this at my age!!!) 


July 6, 2009 at 03:59 PM ·

Time.  Time is my enemy.  I need more time to do all of the lessons my instructor loads on me in violin.  I need time to nail the Sevcik and Sitt properly, and I REALLY need more time to learn the new ogre in my life ....4th position.  The hour I play in the morning is not enough.  My weekend hours are not enough.

I need time to learn all the viola lessons I get loaded on me.  Again, my evening hours don't cut it anymore.  I need more time to learn the different positions in viola.  I always find myself wanting more, needing more, not getting the time I think I need and getting grouchy about it.

I want to learn the Vivaldi Four Seasons for violin and the Elegies for viola, then I grouse about their level of difficulty when I finally get them and find out how hard they are.  Then I try to figure out how I can get more time out of the day.  Thinking about that makes me even grumpier.  It is a self-perpetuating cycle.

---Ann Marie

July 6, 2009 at 05:28 PM ·

I also need non-crappy strings and a non-crappy shoulder rest, but those will be much easier than the pinky by far.

July 8, 2009 at 03:52 PM ·

An update, y'all:

Started practicing problem area @ 50 bpm, do it about seven times at that tempo, then move up 1 bpm!  Woo-hoo!  I am at 57 right now. I laid out 7 coins.  Play thru the passage @ the tempo of the metronome.  If it's correct, move coin to the other side of table/cabinet/stand etc.  Do for all seven coins @ tempo, then crank it up once! 



July 9, 2009 at 07:35 AM ·

The most frustrating thing is my schedule. Work till 3-5 AM sleep till noon, then do it again. When I leave for work, I wish I had practiced some. I can't practice when I come home cause its a small apartment. I wonder if I could get an apartment in a home for the deaf?

July 10, 2009 at 12:28 AM ·

Eric, I am so understanding for you, soon, I have to quit home to go study at university. Beeing used to a medium (in size)  house, I am so frighten of appartments and my violin practices. I think it is ennough so that I stop.  How is it possible to practice high pitch things with someone the other side of the wall.  I'm quite a shy practice person and like to be heard only when I am ready (not before cause it sounds terrible and it is even depressing to myself lol...) I can't imagine how I will do???? No jokes, I have always wondered how it works for practices when one lives in appartments.   In some cities, in Europe, I have heard they used to put musicians all in the same building...   Maybe not a coincidence. 

Hope you can find a solution to all this! Good luck!


July 10, 2009 at 09:24 AM ·

Don't worry too much about the high notes. They have less energy than the low ones, travel through walls less easily and therefor they are less disturbing to the neighbours. Curtains and carpets help in absorbing the energy of the high notes. And a mute always helps in taking away the feeling of guilt towards the neighbours. 

July 10, 2009 at 11:00 AM ·



July 12, 2009 at 12:49 AM ·

My big frustration or worry is definately Youth Symphony auditions for next year! Also college auditions are on my mind. That and a recital that I plan to do for my senior project. Come to think of it I really don't have that many worries...except yesterday when I felt like playing the Meditation from Thais my vibrato just...stunk! It was so monotonous and dry (pedantic is the word my teacher would use...).It shocked me because I always prided myself on having wonderful, singing vibrato.Having preformed that piece several times (and played it to myself even more) this worried me...I don't know, mabe its just a one time thing

To answer Steven's comment, I too am also practicing more pieces than usuall since it is the summer and my violin teacher thinks that, by some miracle, I can manage it. The key is to familiarize yourself with the piece first, pick out the sections that you have trouble with and practice just those sections (slowly). Then when you have most of it under controll you put it together, play the piece, and then repeat the process (although sometimes,I loose controll and proceed to play the piece "a tempo"

July 12, 2009 at 01:59 AM ·

I always feel frustrated when I'm practicing and it seems that I was playing better the day before. Anyway, presently I'm a bit frustrated with a simple piece (at least for most of you), the Vivaldi A Minor concerto. I already know it by heart, practice it everyday slowly and in tempo but it's not as I want it to be yet, and my improvement on it seems to be very slow.

July 12, 2009 at 04:26 PM ·

These are all such a comfort to read. I myself am feeling a little under-challenged technically while still managing to hit some awful intonation clunkers on the pieces I do work on. I sense I'm crossing some barren plateau and at some point there will be a grand paradigm shift. In the meantime, well, there's sure a lot to work on, so I don't know why I'm complaining that I'm under-challenged. Just wish I were challenged on more glamorous things, I guess. : (

And time, as has been brought up. Never. Enough. Time. 

And David, BIG CONGRATS on the new addition to your household. How wonderful, and yet, how stressful it can be. Good luck to you and your family on the time (and sleep)-management challenges that lie ahead. But I'll bet she's absolutely adorable right now - those first smiles and such.



July 12, 2009 at 04:26 PM ·

>Practicing the Bach A Minor Fugue actually brought me to tears once. 

Anne, are we to assume, then, that they were the bad kind of "brought me to tears"? : )

July 12, 2009 at 05:07 PM ·

Not tears of joy  (Insert weeping smiley face here).

The Obligatos have been much more obliging.  We have been much happier these days.  (Insert non-weeping smiley face here).

July 19, 2009 at 04:12 PM ·

It's nice to see I'm not the only one that struggles with finding time to practice.  I imagine this will only become more of an issue as I progress through the various levels (I've been playing now for about 1.5 years).  I usually manage 45 - 60 min/day most days, which is challenging, because I work about 10 hrs/day and I commute for 1.5 hrs/day. 

However, it became much worse on Friday.  A few of my work colleagues and I like to ride our road racing bicycles at lunch on Friday's.  Everything was great - heart rate was in the zone, we were riding fast - then a light rain made the road slick.  I crashed on the next turn, slamming my right shoulder and face into the pavement.  Amulance took me to the hospital, where they took me for an x-ray followed by a CT.  I broke my cheek bone moving it inwards by 1-2mm.  The plastic surgeon says I should wait until the swelling goes down before deciding if I need plastic surgery! I don't think it will be that bad though - albeit, my face is pretty ugly right now.

Amazingly, I picked up the violin yesterday to see how it feels, and there is only a little soreness in my shoulder but that's about it.  Cancelled my lesson for today, but I should be back on next week.  The one thing I don't want to give up is violin.  I don't want to quite my other activities either (running biking swimming in the summer, hockey in the winter - yes Canadian eh).  For now, no exercise for 2 weeks, but going forward I am torn between taking the risk with my other pastimes and continuing to play the violin.  I get scared when I think of not being able to play the violin.

July 19, 2009 at 05:50 PM ·

Adam good luck!!!


July 19, 2009 at 08:57 PM ·

 Yay! A venting thread! I fear I may spend too much time ranting on here, so give me a shout if I get carried away...;-)

I think right now my biggest violin problem is getting myself motivated. I sacrificed a lot in high school to get good grades and succeed in violin, all motivating myself with the goal of getting into a great college. I ran the audition circuit and played for nine universities, had three extremely established violinists at three separate prestigious schools *approach* me (once a day after the audition!) to tell me how much they enjoyed my playing. And then I only got into one school, my backup. That alone never sat well with me, but I was planning on running the circuit again and get a second chance. However, I don't have the funds to continue even at this university, which has forced me to reaudition at the state schools in Florida (which are a tenth of the cost of the university I attend now). I've also had a spattering of other failed goals, leaving me with the feeling that I haven't done anything worthwhile since my junior year of high school. It's so hard to practice when you can't say to yourself "See, hard work pays off!" and even harder when you start to question your abilities. And once you start playing the "am I good enough" question, your entire future becomes a black hole of uncertainty, making it even more stressful....if only we could all just sit around making music and not have to trouble ourselves with the trivialities of money and time. 

July 20, 2009 at 02:08 AM ·

Natasha, I hope everything works out for you, I really do.  If music is what you love, you'll find your way out of this rut.

July 20, 2009 at 01:35 PM ·

I really hate how people ( when they first see you playing on your violin) the first thing they do is point to your bow and say: "Wow. Isn't that real horse-hair? Cool!" 

followed by:  "Can I touch it (the bow), I just want to feel how horse-hair feels like... please?"

then before you know it, your bow needs to be rehaired... again. : (





August 6, 2009 at 03:12 AM ·

Thomas- I know, right?

August 14, 2009 at 07:58 PM ·

Totally the most frustrating thing for me is the huge gap between what I hear in my head and what's actually coming from my violin :-/ Oh and those times (which occur often in my life!) when something that seemed so obvious and worked so well in a lesson simply doesn't work in practicing...

August 14, 2009 at 09:11 PM ·

 I'm dealing with new settings that came from Europe with a strange fine tuner.  So a few days ago my e peg exploded a few times.  The E now won't tune... at all!  The problem isn't the peg itself.... but my wonderful repairperson is out of town.... so I can't play anything involving notes on the E until she gets back and has a look at it.

August 15, 2009 at 12:25 AM ·

That stinks. Hope it gets fixed soon.

August 15, 2009 at 10:50 PM ·

Hi guys,

My problem is the distances I have to travel to get to a music store with a 'luthier trained tech'(60mi and he is only available one or two days a week!)  or my teacher (70 mi). I would love to be able to go into a big well stocked store and try out various chinrests or see more than one or two string choises. Everything i get ends up being sent from across country. I'm dreading my next rehair...better start researching it now...

Yours truly from way out in the 'boons, C

August 16, 2009 at 12:21 AM ·

That is pretty rough.  You could at least make a luthier trip a fun weekend adventure, maybe?

August 18, 2009 at 08:12 PM ·

Hey, everyone...

My frustrations:  I got a student violin when I first started and since I've improved I feel like my student instrument is holding me back.  I'd like a new instrument and bow for college but I'd have to raise the money myself.  I could get a job but along with school I'd have no time to practice!  I feel stuck...

And Carol, I live in the boonies too!  I have to travel about an hour and thirty minutes if I want to try out some bows or get something adjusted.  My youth orchestra is about the same distance in the opposite direction!  It is really frustrating!

September 2, 2009 at 05:03 PM ·

My biggest frustration: My husband doesn't want to hear me play the violin.  I don't mean perform, I mean play at all.  He says the higher notes hurt his ears, and hates it when I practice no matter how far away I am in the house.  He also says it's too loud.  I've asked him if he just thinks my playing sucks (and his criticism has done wonders for my confidence, doncha know..) and he says no, it's just the violin -- he hates it when I put on music like Kriesler by Josh Bell too.

How can you play violin with a spouse who hates the sound of it :(

September 2, 2009 at 05:23 PM ·

Anna- Oh My I'm sorry to hear about your woes.  Maybe an electric violin where only you hear it through the headphones?  Or can you play when your spouse is not around?

September 2, 2009 at 05:25 PM ·

When you married him did he feel the same way or has this changed?

A violinist marrying somebody who hates the violin is a bit like a butcher marrying a vegetarian.

My dogs hate it when I play the violin. They start howling, especially with double stops. The more I play in tune the more they howl. So I put them in the garden. Perhaps you try this..? :)

September 3, 2009 at 01:55 PM ·

Robert, what a good idea for Anna.   Hope she has a wonderful garden!  (if not,  a wine bottle and a pc on the garden's table should do the job... : )   

Seriously, good luck Anna!  They are tons of people who love violin so play it for yourself and those who are so happy to listen to you!   Surely, your husband has some hobbies that you hate too???  Tell him yours just happens to be more noisy than some other hobbies!   This is not your fault!

Courage and Bravo to stick with your violin!


September 3, 2009 at 03:08 PM ·

My frustration, well my frustrations!!

1)I do not seem to improve.

2) I'm in a quartet and well I'm the worst! So I feel sometimes terrible

3) Migraines and work, school etc restrict my pratice to 1h1/2 per day

4) I'm afraid to pratice when there is people in the house, I sound so bad, especialle because

I have a son that plays cello way way better than I will ever play violin

5) I just wish I ahd started when I was young!

Ouf .....

September 3, 2009 at 08:08 PM ·

I'm sure that you can't be that bad.... do you take lessons?

September 3, 2009 at 08:22 PM ·

Yes Michael, I do!

September 3, 2009 at 11:11 PM ·

VIBRATO!  I can do it perfectly fine on cello but it SUCKS on violin!!!


September 4, 2009 at 12:20 AM ·

Repetition is the mother of skill!~

September 4, 2009 at 03:56 AM ·


I began learning the violin 5 years ago at age 42. I can't find enough time to practice. Some days I can only manage 15 minutes. Work and family commitments limit practice time.

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