Advice you would give Yourself

June 21, 2011 at 05:45 PM ·

I'm about 2 1/2 years into my violin playing life and enjoying it more and more as I see improvements along the way.  Many aspects of playing take a long time for the "lightbulb" to go on!  And of course I have so many more things to discover as my playing progresses, which is part of the fun of this challenging instrument.  

It would be fun though to be able to go back a year and give myself some advice on what to do (an what not to do!).  What would you tell yourself a year ago?

For me, I would say "Relax your right hand more, more, even more. Try playing long tones with different dynamics (p, mp, mf, f) like your teacher has been suggesting.  And please stop ending your notes like they are hitting a brick wall!   Otherwise, keep up the great work!"

Replies (20)

June 21, 2011 at 06:17 PM ·

A)  Relax.

B)  Use more bow.

June 21, 2011 at 07:42 PM ·

  1. Always pay attention to the basics and maintain good posture, hand frame, and bow hold - bad habits can sneak up on you!
  2. Plan ahead for difficult reaches, shifts, etc.
  3. Focus on attacking the problem spots - keep playthroughs to a minimum until you have solved all the technical issues.
  4. When something is not working, stop and analyze the cause, rather than practice the same way more and hope it will get better.
  5. Separate practice time from play-for-fun time.
  6. Listen to your teacher more, because she already told you most of the above more than a year ago...

June 21, 2011 at 08:02 PM ·

Play more relaxed is an excellent one. I'm doing that now and tone and intonation have improved dramatically.

June 21, 2011 at 09:02 PM ·

Easy - dont ever let the lower 1/2 of the thumb touch the neck. Only the upper half. That is the biggest problem I have ever had probably because I have a short pinky.



June 21, 2011 at 11:41 PM ·

I would tell myself a year ago to focus on more scales and arpeggios. They are of immense importance. I just never had the discipline to give them daily attention until now.

June 22, 2011 at 01:55 AM ·

 Keep the right should down off your ears.  Guess that falls into the "relax" category.

June 22, 2011 at 04:07 AM ·

1. Relax my left hand more, more, even more.

2. Stop ending my notes like they are hitting a brick wall.

3. Posture, posture, posture.

June 22, 2011 at 04:53 AM ·

When you play out of tune, don't blame, nor envy, or even jealous - it's because YOU are lacking discipline and patience to tune the intonation. Practice slow, and SLOW!

June 22, 2011 at 06:00 AM ·

Slow down.

And for pity's sake RELAX!!!!!!

June 22, 2011 at 09:31 AM ·

Keep a balance of technical studies and repertoire.   The former is essential for advancement, the latter for enjoyment - too much of either and you get derailed...

June 22, 2011 at 11:17 AM ·

My advice to myself a year ago, two years ago, thirty years ago would have been:  you idiot, you're a complete failure at this, you have zero aptitude for it, you've been wasting too much time on this for years, give it up RIGHT NOW and start doing something productive with the rest of your life.

But did I listen?  No, I'm hooked, I'm too stupid to quit, and I'm still wasting my time.

June 22, 2011 at 04:47 PM ·

Good job.... now do it again better

June 22, 2011 at 05:38 PM ·

Probably "fingers first", "don't be afraid of the lower half of the bow", and "play louder". I've got the volume part down, but I'm still working on getting into the habit of making my playing more clean and full-bowed.

June 22, 2011 at 08:51 PM ·

To myself??

Get of the doggone computer, pick up the fiddle and practice!!


June 23, 2011 at 01:41 PM ·

Stop thinking of all those quick shifts as something difficult, it only makes you tense up, Practice each one slowly while being very aware of keeping the scroll at the same level, then bring them up to speed.

June 23, 2011 at 02:44 PM ·

Spend more time at the beginning of each practice session on technique...then relax and play for fun.  The technique should then become 2nd nature and just become a part of the relaxed playing...

June 23, 2011 at 09:03 PM ·

 When practicing (i.e. it's not practicable to do the following in an orchestral setting), watch the bow – checking that it stays in the chosen track between fingerboard and bridge, and that the tip/heel doesn't wander off out of alignment towards the bridge/fingerboard at the end of a bow stroke.

June 23, 2011 at 09:45 PM ·

 "Stop thinking of all those quick shifts as something difficult, it only makes you tense up, Practice each one slowly while being very aware of keeping the scroll at the same level, then bring them up to speed."

Keeping the scroll is the same place doesn't help to shift to a higher position. If you are shifting up, it is more natural to lift the violin so that your left hand is moving down rather than over. It is in most Heifetz films, and he mentioned this frequently in teaching. Zvi Zeitlin was a student of Heifetz, and once in a lesson Zvi was having an issue in a section were there was a lot of shifting. After playing the section for Heifetz a few times, Heifetz said, (approximate translation/paraphrase - the conversation was in Russian) "Zvi, Why don't you lift your violin for those shifts? You would be much better off that way."

It helps significantly to lift the violin when shifting up, and to lower it again (back to normal position) when shifting back down, that way both your hand and the fingerboard are moving back from your head. If you keep the violin in position, you move your elbow out farther from your chest to reach over the side of the violin and up the finger board. It is much more natural to lift your arm. 

June 25, 2011 at 03:02 AM ·

Ryan, thanks for the comment! Actually, when preparing to shift, I would somehow get tense all over and my scroll would drop (YIKES). That only happens when  I am worried about a shift, so my concern and behavior are related. This is something a teacher would have caught right off, but I have been without a teacher for over a year :(

I will give the lifting a try and watch videos of the greats with this in mind.

Again, thanks!

June 25, 2011 at 10:41 PM ·

i'm beginning again and i'm looking forward to more advice for my own self

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