Is this helpful for intonation and general improvement?
I’m an adult learner with a background in piano while my husband is an amateur intermediate/advanced player. Lately he has been listening to me practice and pointing out all the notes with bad intonation and then I spend all my practice time working on intonation.
That in and of itself is not a bad thing, but as a working mom, I have limited practice time. I’m thinking the average student (child or adult) does not have someone pointing out all their intonation flaws when they practice, but they are still able to improve over time. So do you think intonation is so foundational that I should spend all my time on this, or will I improve “on my own” over time without needing my husband to point out every bad note?
I do have a teacher and we do work on intonation but the focus is usually more musicality and bow technique. I don’t know if that’s because my intonation isn’t that bad or because she is going easy on me as an adult. (I don’t want her to go easy...I’m a perfectionist and want to improve as much as possible)
Btw I can tell when someone else is playing out of tune, and I can tell if I’m super out of tune, but for some reason I may not always be able to tell if I’m playing a note just slightly out of tune (although listening to a recording or someone else play I would definitely be able to tell).
You will not magically improve if you do not spend time paying attention to your intonation.
With students, I often wait for the end of the piece. If, for example, all the 2nd-finger notes are too high, it is poor finger placement which has become a gestural and aural habit; if the problem is random, it is a lack of attentive practice; if the student's criteria are less demanding than mine, I grind my teeth, and seek an appropriate strategy..
While my experience is limited with only just over 2.5 years of lessons/playing, I spend about 5 minutes at the beginning of each practice just working on intonation (scales) in 1st and 3rd position.
This is the role of scales and studies -- and at the beginner to intermediate level I would emphasize studies -- in your daily practice. You find studies at your level that have scale-like passages in them and you practice those. Those will groove your intonation and your bow arm. The thing you have to understand about intonation is that your ability to hear the inaccuracies will improve just as your intonation itself improves. So don't beat yourself up too much because you can't tell if something is perfectly in tune or not. I had another thread on that recently. It would be most helpful if your partner would point out those notes that you miss
Btw, it is worth noting that quite a few of the world's top string players find it necessary to spend some of their practice time in "reminding" their fingers where they are supposed to be landing. The rest of us are no exception!
"Cognitive resources", I like that. All musicians have to listen to what they do, but the reasons differ with the instrument. I found that with piano you listen to yourself in order to play well, i.e. the simplest, most obvious reason; with violin there's a subtler reason - your ears need practice to be able to hear what you are doing before you can learn to do it (that's what I found, anyway. YMMV)!
No, it does not sound helpful at all to be interrupted and criticized during your practice time! Hard to imagine anything worse. Learning good intonation is a long process, neverending for most. You can only make the steps you can make at a particular time- there's no way you can go from A to Z just from someone criticizing you. Most violinists have been and are going through this, so they are usually the most sympathetic that it's a struggle to learn all the different components that go into playing the instrument, and that they all take time. Intonation's just one of the skills you have to learn, and it will come with practice and more experience. It's good to focus on it for awhile each day, or fix things one at a time, but you have to go at your pace.
It sounds like in a sense, he is doing you a favor, but it also sounds frustrating. I think people essentially play out of tune until they get sick of it and start doing the work you are describing, and it can take a really long time until people get to that point. But it's true that while working on intonation you may not be working as much on other aspects of your playing.
In my case, after 17 years of this instrument since starting late in life, intonation is a constant battle. Besides the usual recommendations, the key is focused practicing to address the problem areas. Just doing scales for me is meaningless. I need to either record myself during practice, so I know to create my own exercises such as improving the sound ( quality and intonation) when string crossings from b(a string) to a(d string) , and then repeat for other strings. I do a lot of practice the hand frame that Lydia mentions. For intonation I do a lot of double stops where the note is played with the open string to the right. I listen for the beat frequency which exists with every note/interval. This works better for me than watching a meter. I can’t imagine any activity where you really spend at least 50% of the time on basics/exercises.
Why dont you ask yor teacher, if you are playing intume enough compared to the time you have spent playing the violin? Thats the easiest solution. Ive asked that multiple times from my daughters teacher whether she is playing in tune enough, because obviously I would expect her to play the pitch exactly. And every time I have been reassured that her intonation is just fine.
Trevor I agree that Suk serenade is a wonderful piece. Our chamber orchestra played that a couple of years ago.
While it's useful to keep the violin in tune, one of the core skills of intonation is that if string is somewhat (or even extremely) out of tune, you can automatically adjust without thinking about it. Finger placement is relative and not absolute.
Thanks everyone. As some of you caught on, this was just as much a marriage question as a practicing question...haha! I like the idea of getting feedback at the end of the piece rather than being stopped every measure. I also did discuss this with my teacher, and we agreed to focus more on the basics this year. I think she was trying to keep things interesting for me as an adult learner, but we were able to establish that I’m not “just playing for fun” and that I’m willing to put in the time on scales, etudes and other focus areas in order to improve. Now I just need to find more practice time!
It is annoying being stopped every measure, every note, even (as I was during Thursday's lesson), but if you can grit your teeth and bear it, it is useful. 3 or 4 or more things have to be kept in mind at any one time, and this type of interference can train your mind to think about all those different things when it wasn't on the lookout for them.
"No, it does not sound helpful at all to be interrupted and criticized during your practice time!"
Instead of fixing all your intonation at once, you can take the approach of fixing one note at a time.
Scott Cole, that problem is always solved when you live in an apartment building, haha. Sometimes I wish for privacy just so I could screw up freely! But I have a great mute ..
Your husband is being a backseat driver. Your practice time is yours, he is not your second teacher, and even if he were (and that's something you participate in deciding) you need your practice time for yourself, to contend on your own with your process. If hubby wants to feel good about helping you then you can mutually decide on times in which he will give you feedback.
This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.