Tips for a frustrated student?
I'll start off with a bit of background info. I've been playing the violin for just a bit over 3 years. As a reference to my skill level, I am currently working on Seitz Student Concerto No, 2. I started playing in my teen years. At the beginning it was just a hobby, a curiosity. My knowledge in music theory is fairly limited. Prior to violin, I had taken saxophone in elementary school, which as I'm sure you can guess, wasn't the most enriching experience. Recently, my adoration of music has grown substantially. I have started going to classical music concerts and rehearsals, I've begun researching composers and their history, I engage with recording of the great violinists. I wish I could go back in time and urge my younger self to take practice more seriously. I feel as if I have wasted so much time, just practising whatever and whenever I wanted, with no structure. I would like to take learning violin and music more seriously. However, I am feeling very frustrated with my progress. Three years later, and I am still making very basic mistakes, such as incorrect intonation and string crossing. I have tried to research exercises and methods to improve but always seem to reach a dead end. I was wondering what the violinist community recommends? What warm-ups helped you as a relatively new student? What can I do to develop a strong and reliable intonation? How does one go about learning theory in an efficient manner? How do I get over this plateau and start seeing progress?
You didn't mention your teacher, but string crossing is not a simple task, and if you keep going, you will have many etudes in your future that have big string-crossing components. Intonation is a lifelong struggle, and you will probably find that as your intonation gets better (it will) your ear will also get better, so you are kind of perpetually dissatisfied, which is just part of the learning process.
Playing the violin is seriously freaking hard.
I'm an adult amateur and not particularly accomplished. I studied as a child, then put the violin away for a long time, and now I'm a "returner."
Thank you all for the (quick!) responses. There is some wonderful advice here that has changed my perspective a little.
Maybe there are basic technical things that you have not learned properly earlier due to you not having practiced properly and they are no hampering you down? Have you asked your teacher what these are? Or better stilll, make a video of yourself playing and compare it then to the many excellent soloist out there, maybe you can spot some basic wrong posture? If you analyze your playing yourself, you will really learn and thus have the capazity to change things.
Okay. Maybe at your next lesson you could ask your teacher the following:
Kaly, good suggestions by all above. I think Paul has a good idea: learn what you teacher foresees for you on violin and try to establish a long-term plan. And congrats on the IB (our youngest granddaughter did an International Baccelaureate in high school about 10 years ago).
This could be me writing this post ! I’m working on the same piece with exactly the same frustrations . ( Those darn double stops!)
How much, and how often, were you practicing, before you started "taking it seriously"?
One of the advantages of using method books (like Suzuki) for your repertoire pieces is that the progression is very gradual. My own experience is that teachers who follow the approach of just assigning you a new piece out of thin air (well, it can seem like that anyway) when you've finished your current one often do not go gradually enough. I struggled with this very badly with the teacher I had as a teenager. I couldn't play Accolay so he assigned me Mozart 3. And the reason he gave me Accolay was because I couldn't play Vivaldi. I'm not kidding.
Lydia, I'd say that when I first started, I was practising for about 30 minutes, 4 to 5 times a week. When I decided to take learning the violin more seriously (around December of last year), my practice times started to fluctuate, ranging from about 45 minutes to over an hour and 30 minutes. Within the past month and a bit, I've made an effort to stay at a stable 1.5 hrs, nearly everyday if I can manage my time.
It will help you if, even on the days you can't really manage to practice, if you can do at least 30 minutes, and if not 30, at least 10 to 15 minutes of basics. You are better off practicing 7 days a week for shorter periods of time, than skipping days in order to get more time on some days.
We do not know how out of tune are. So these ideas might be too easy for you, but here goes. (As my girl is at the same level, I still use tuner app to check the piches when she practises as I myself cannot here when the pitch goes a bit wrong.)
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