Critique me! I can take it! :-D

March 8, 2016 at 04:45 PM · Well, I am interested in your feedback. I recorded a couple of etudes from wohlfahrt. Nos. 1 and 4. I feel like you should all know exactly how terrible I am. Hahaha. The qulaity is not great as the violin overpowers the laptop mic in a few spots. But here is my (or close to) current ability.

Link to etude no 4

Link to etude no 1

Replies (25)

March 8, 2016 at 07:33 PM · Actually, you're doing great for a beginner! You're playing with a nice tone (even though your bow sometimes drifts too close to the fingerboard) and your intonation is generally quite good. Keep up the good work!

March 8, 2016 at 08:04 PM · Awesome! Thank you! I have only just been working on playing close to the bridge. It is so recent that there really is no rosin buIldup several millimeters out from the bridge. Haha.

Also, I feel like my fourth finger floated a little high a few times in there.

Thank you for your feedback! It means a lot!


March 8, 2016 at 08:14 PM · Hi Jessy, thanks for sharing, like Lydia said, you are not afraid to use your bow, as a result, your tone is more solid that the thin, scared tone one typically hears from beginners. Also your intonation is not bad, but often just a tiny bit too high, I noticed it mainly with the fourth finger, that one is consistently a bit too high (both on the A-string and on the E-string). You can calibrate your intonation from the resonant sounds that you get when you play a note that is the same, possibly up to an octave, as an open string. Play the D (3rd finger on A-string) spot on, using a lot of bow, and you will hear the full resonant tone which comes from the D-string (same note, one octave down) which will vibrate out of sympathy so to speak. Same with G 3rd finger on D-string and G-string, and so on. Same also with E 4rd finger on A-string. If the intonation is right it has to be exactly the same as your open E-string and the E-string will start vibrating along out of sheer happiness. Caveat: this supposes the four strings are well tuned to begin with.

One comment I would like to offer is the use of your pinky on the bow. Or rather, you don't use it. Initially, it is on the bow, but straight and very stiff. Not surprisingly it will slip off and then for the rest of the etude you have it off your bow. Ideally your four fingers, including the pinky, should be relaxed and supple, curved, not straight, on the bow. It has been likened to a little baby that grabs your finger. This is how *your* fingers should feel grabbing your bow. Supple finger are important once you start learning the martele bowing, where there needs to be a "bite" starting each stroke. You need supple fingers for that.

So, hold the bow a bit different, so that your fourth finger is on top and curved. It takes practice to keep it on while still staying relaxed.

Next, also your right wrist should be less stiff, more supple. Right now your bowing movement comes partly from the upper arm, which in itself is not really wrong, but you should also practice bowing mainly from the lower arm. In any case the bowing movement from the arm is too stiffly attached to the wrist, then to the hand, then to the bow. As a result your bow is pushed and pulled while bowing, I mean it drifts, just look at the video and you will see what I mean. Instead your should strive to keep the bow perfectly in the middle between the bridge and the fingerboard all the way while bowing up and down. This takes practice and attention but also requires a relaxed wrist.

Last but not least, your big smile at the end of each piece is priceless!!

March 8, 2016 at 08:53 PM · Based on No. 1: I like that there is generally little to no squeaking and scratching. You have the basic idea of left hand position and no pizza wrist which is good. Though I did have a hard time seeing a bit because the video was slightly choppy, it looks as if you need to unlock the pinky and curve it more. This appears as if it is also contributing to the lack of opening of the elbow and wrist, resulting in crooked bowing and probably difficulty using the entire bow as well. The intonation is not horrible, but the notes rarely ring, and because it is c major, most of the notes should be very "ringy", and I notice things tending toward the flat side. I am sure things are similar for No.4. Do you have a teacher?If so, what have they said about it?

March 8, 2016 at 09:50 PM · Jessy, you are awesome! Your left hand will be more secure and you will be able to play fast in the future if you keep more fingers down. For instance in #4 in the beginning when you play 3/123/123, you might start with fingers 1 and 2 down with your 3. Then when you play 123 make sure you keep 1 and 2 down, since you just have to use them again in the next 123.

March 8, 2016 at 10:57 PM · Jean, thank you for your response! My bow stroke and using more bow has been my focus for a few weeks now. I was recently introduced to "z" bowing and was working that on both etudes. The no 4 etude in particular is tough to get all the way to the frog. Partly because of this my bow was 'more' wild than it usually is. I do agree that my wrist and my pinkie are big problems and it has only been in the last few days that I have been working on a curled pinkie and more motion in my wrist. And thank you about my smile lol. I really do love playing and as much as I look grumpy and angry while playing I really love the sound.

March 8, 2016 at 11:11 PM · Since the others already chimed in on technique and all that, I'm gonna go on a completely different direction here with my critique...

Clean up the rosin on the violin! ;)

Other than that, you're doing great, keep up the good work! You might have what my friends here call a 'violin face' (I apparently make one too) while playing, but I too really love how you smile at the end of playing, it shows that sincere joy on what you're doing. Keep it up! :)

March 8, 2016 at 11:24 PM · Lieschen and jean you mentioned my intonation, and I know what you mean by that. My teacher works with me on it and I can hear it when I am right and wrong. I will talk to her about it and see what she thinks. Here is what I can present to you being absent of listening to me in person. (my excuses, as it were hahaha)

what I have been working and what I was really working that night and when I played it on the recording was on my bowing and using my whole bow. And I do notice that there is a trade off in accuracy in my left hand and using my whole bow. I figure that that will smooth out as I get better and better with using the whole bow. I do think that when I practice using the bow that trade off is acceptable as long as I am aware of it and that my intonation is improving along with my bowing. my other excuses are a crappy mic on my laptop and a sub 200 dollar violin. which I am just going to go ahead and say are not valid. Hahahah. In all seriousness I do have work to do on it. I feel I can generally get it to ring when that is my focus, which I do do practices where that is all I focus on.

Again, thank you for the response and I hope you don't mind my excuse making. I know I have a long way to go!


March 8, 2016 at 11:31 PM · Bruce thank you that is very good advice. I get overwhelmed by how much planning and set up there is sometimes. I actually have never considered setting up my fingers in advance. My bow set up has been my main concentration as in up and down bows. That requires a good amount of work and planning to get right at times. I will definitely work on that!

Fox I was working VERY hard in both videos to have a neutral face. lol. I was only partially successful clearly.

The rosin has been cleaned. hahaha.

Thank you for your responses!


March 9, 2016 at 05:28 PM · Jessy,

This is really really great for a year of playing. The sound you are getting is fantastic for that amount of playing.

However, I feel like there are some fundamental things, primarily with the bowarm (which I think you are already wary of), which may cause issues in the future.

I think the main issue with the bow arm/wrist/hand is flexibility. It doesn't like you are necessarily clenching your bow arm/hand, but it does seem like that area is especially stiff. This stiffness will not only restrict your tone, but also lead to the "drifting" that you have mentioned in your responses to other people.

This flexibility and looseness is hard to achieve. When you play your scales, spend 5 minutes playing as loose as you possibly can. Everything from your shoulders to your neck to your fingers should be as loose as possible. Doing this everyday will slowly cause this relaxed way of playing to be absorbed into your non-scale playing.

Anyways, I hope this helps. This is fantastic progress, keep it up.

March 9, 2016 at 06:43 PM · I'm impressed with what you're able to do with just a year's work. Good overall sound, and intonation that is better than I would have expected.

You remarked on your 4th finger, but to me some of your low-2nd-finger notes (F/C/G natural) sound a little too high. Calibrate the G on the E string by making the G string ring in resonance. Then, the C should be parallel to that.

A number of others have commented on a little stiffness in your bow arm. I'm not a violin teacher, so please take any of my comments with a kilo of salt. Stiff joints in the bow arm is a common issue with adult beginners, but you are doing better than the average of what I have seen, and that is reflected in your sound. You'll have less tendency for your bow to skitter when you are bowing in the upper third of your bow if your wrist is a little less stiff. Now look at your videos again and watch your right shoulder. If your wrist is stiff, then your shoulder has to compensate to keep your bow straight. So, maybe think about relaxing your wrist, but watching your shoulder? Speed is not your friend here. Take the No. 4 study at maybe half the speed you're playing in the video to deal with this. Finally, I noticed your left arm. First of all, that's awesome tattoo art. But look at the very end of the Etude No. 4 video, your left arm does not move at all when you are playing notes on lower strings. Because you're a big guy with big hands, you can get away (for now) with just kind of flattening your fingers out over the fingerboard to reach the G string, and you're reaching the notes. But your left elbow should "swing" to the right under your violin when you go to a lower string, that's how your hand gets re-positioned so that your fingers can maintain the same curvature. Before you move up the finger board or you start to play double stops this issue will need to be solved.

Watch Leonid Kogan play the Cantabile:

Focus on the first 20 seconds of the video. Watch his right shoulder, there's barely any motion there and even that is only because he's wearing a suit (tux) jacket, and watch his wrist. Notice too how his fingers are relaxed enough that he can move them around quite a bit. That's commendable, but not something you do randomly, it just comes from being relaxed.

This piece is in your future! Not next week, but you'll get there.

March 9, 2016 at 07:42 PM · Logan,thank you for the response! As an answer to my wrist being stiff I have been carrying a pen around with my to practice both keeping a curled pinkie and that flexible wrist motion. I will most definitely incorporate it into my scales. I actually probably get too caught up in scales in 1st to 3rd positions. I sometimes spend am hour or more on just one scale. Itis almost a compulsion. I have to figure out a way to shorten it. I just get so intent on getting each thing perfect the next thing I know it is an hour into practice and that is all I have done. Haha. Maybe this will slow me down.


March 9, 2016 at 07:48 PM · Paul, thank you for your kind words. I'm actually getting more work done on my arm today. Haha. I really like your advice about tucking my arm under.I do know I am supposed to do this but I think you are right and I do cheat as I just don't often think about it. I will keep it in mind especially as I am just now beginning to work shifting, as in two octave scales and a few parts in my music.

I am going to watch that video momentarily and see what you are talking about regarding his shoulder.


March 9, 2016 at 09:00 PM · Hi Jessy, I'm an adult student as well studying for 2 years.

I noticed you doing something similar to a bow arm/hold I used to do. Your wrist looks like it is on the same plane as the bow so you aren't able to flex your wrist with the bow stroke.

If you turn your wrist at an angle to the frog then it helps your wrist motion as well as getting your fingers to curl in the right places. My teacher calls it 'check your watch'. Bow with your wrist pointing at an angle like you would be able to see your watch on it.

This had helped me alot and perhaps it can be useful for you as well.

Good work :-)

March 9, 2016 at 09:15 PM · Jessy

While it is good to recognize that spending an hour on a single scale is not the most efficient way to spend your time, hold on to and cherish that impulse. The desire to strive for perfection even if it requires significant amounts of practicing will only help you as your progress.


March 9, 2016 at 11:14 PM · I agree with Logan. Anyway you're not really just practicing a scale from the point of view of your intonation. You're perfecting a certain combination of subtle motions in your bow arm. A scale is never just a scale.

And as for what Kimberly said, that's an interesting suggestion but remember that you and she don't have the same physique. But still, when you are watching Kogan you can see his wrist and you can imagine him wearing a watch! Can he see it? Kogan's bowing is a clear example of how elegant, graceful movement translates into tremendous power in the production of tone.

March 10, 2016 at 05:34 AM · That's quite good for a year's playing.

These were great points guys. One other positive comment was the string crossing was quite neat. Some of the notes faltered, but maybe it was the recording. Intonation could use some work, as others have said, but it's quite accurate overall.

March 10, 2016 at 12:35 PM · Kimberly, I gave it a try and it not only seemed to improve the sound production but also is going to help with my bow hold and my pinkie staying curled.

I have placed my pinkie lightly on the "edge" far away from me and ever so slightly used that to roll my wrist and the top of the bow slightly toward me. I will, of course run it by my teacher but initially it seems to be a very good thing.

Thank you!


March 10, 2016 at 12:45 PM · Ella, thank you for your comments! My teacher is quite particular about string crossings and we work those properly any time they arise. :-)

In regard to notes faltering I think there were two or three on the G or D strings(?) Without watching I don't know exactly which strings but there were a few that were just my blunders. However, the ones on the E strong were due to the violin overpowering the mic on my laptop. I'm going to try something different next time. Though I'm not sure what. Haha

March 10, 2016 at 12:49 PM · Logan and Paul. That video of kogan was really good. I noticed the wrist and the smoothness of his bow and how his shoulder didn't seem to move much at all.

I have a lot of work to do. Haha


March 10, 2016 at 01:45 PM · Jessy, you can do this more easily than you give yourself credit. Just watch yourself in a mirror taking long slow bows, even on open strings it's a good thing to do. Take your time and remember to breathe.

March 10, 2016 at 05:53 PM · Jesse one other thing that has not yet been mentioned (except by Bruce in connection to keeping fingers down) and you will probably also work on in the future: these two etudes are really meant to be played quite a bit faster. step at a time. Tone and intonation are always the most important. Fast and sloppy is worthless.

March 10, 2016 at 08:29 PM · Hi Jessy,

I enjoyed that. Does it feel like you have any tension in your shoulder? The sound is nice because you are using a small amount of bow, but for bigger bows, you may want to consider some exercises in drawing a straight bow, because on bigger bows your bow is going to drift more - A stable sound point will give you a stable sound.

Anyway, it looks like you can relax your arm a bit more. You have a bit more mass in your arms than I do, but I tend to think of my elbow as where the weight of my entire right arm is concentrated, sort of like a pendulum. This lets me use the natural weight of my arm to create the sound, and also keeps my arm relaxed and from getting tired. It looks like you are bowing a bit from the shoulder, and like others point out, you can keep your shoulder pretty quiet.

Of course it's good to realize that different parts of the arm drive the bow in different regions of the bow. One way you can explore this is by having someone hold the bow parallel to the bridge so that the tip of the bow is resting on the string. Then, you just slide your hand up and down the stick. Take note of how straight bowing feels like. Note how it feels for your shoulder, upper arm, elbow, forearm and wrist. Allow all these parts to be as relaxed as possible, and this will give you an idea for how straight bowing can feel.

If you feel you have a good idea for straight bowing, then you can practice on open strings, just drawing long, slow straight bows, and faster ones as well. Practicing on open strings isn't necessarily the most fun, but it takes more complicated elements out of the way so you can really focus on the bowing.

Good luck, it sounds nice.

March 10, 2016 at 10:44 PM · Jean no.1 is allegro moderato, no.4 is allegretto.

About what pace should that be bpm?

You are totally right, I was playing those both close to my maximum pace. I'd rather work on intonation and other things (as I see I have much to work haha) and work speed up slowly. I actually have slowed them down even further sonce this thread. Hahaha

Thanks for the feedback!


March 10, 2016 at 10:49 PM · Christian, that is a really good idea that I am going to implement asap. I can already feel a difference in the drift as I work on all of the thinges everyone here has mentioned. My pinkie is turning out to have a huge effect on that. Amazing! In addition actually making sure my wrist is loose and flexible is helping lots with smoothness and straight, parallel bowing!

Thank you for your feedback it means a lot!


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