Getting back in shape

January 30, 2020, 4:40 PM · So, last week i did have a very strong stomach flu, that lasted about 1 and half week. During that time the pain was so intense i could not even stand up from my bed, so i couldn't play. Now i'm healthy so i picked up the violin to play again, but it's obvious: i'm out of shape. I tried playing a bit and everything sounds bad, only the scales but not the arpeggios. Even i think my coups d'archet are a bit rusty. The doublestops are nasty.
Do you guys know what can I do to regain my "strength"?

Replies (16)

January 30, 2020, 5:12 PM · You practice!
You start by going back to those things you can now play without a problem.
You will move ahead quickly and get your chops back in no time at all.

At some time in our lives we get to a point where we have to start daily practice with a warmup routine to get back to where we were yesterday. (Hopefully where we ended yesterday!)

January 30, 2020, 5:13 PM · I do, but now i didn't and it is taking its toll
January 30, 2020, 5:39 PM · A week and a half without playing shouldn't shatter your technique. A day devoted to patient basics -- scales, basic finger pattern exercises, some bow stroke drills, etc. -- should be plenty for recovery.
January 30, 2020, 5:42 PM · Thanks lydia, i'm trying some easy things and some Sevcik along with scales, i think tomorrow i'll play at a normal pace
Edited: January 30, 2020, 8:49 PM · A week and a half without playing shouldn't shatter your technique.

I agree, but the OP said... "everything sounds bad", and I am inclined to believe them. These bad sounds maybe due to the neglect of 'mindful practice', which would include the process of actually anticipating 'beautiful' sounds; the production of resonating tonalities. And, the imagination of how it feels to produce these beautiful sounds. This can all be achieved in the mind between practice sessions. Then one weeks lack of practice here and there will not be noticed, but there maybe some improvement observed.

January 30, 2020, 10:30 PM · So, I suggest you play some slow scales in thirds. And you say you're healthy but you might not be 100% yet. It takes sometimes a couple of weeks for your system to clear out an illness like that. Eat some chili fries or tater tots with cheese and wash that down with a few beers, then sleep for 12 hours. In the morning you'll be Heifetz.
January 31, 2020, 7:12 AM · Paul, was that Heifetz's secret?
January 31, 2020, 10:26 AM · The beer was certainly Kreisler's secret. If he'd lived during a time of chili fries and tater tots with cheese, I've no doubt he'd have embraced them enthusiastically. :-)
January 31, 2020, 11:17 AM · If an infection goes into the ears it can affect your hearing. A flu can affect your muscles. Just give it two days of normal practice, with an emphasis on technical fundamentals.
January 31, 2020, 2:12 PM · Take it slow and concentrate on good form - don't wear yourself out and ingrain bad habits as you tire. Sometimes I'll play easy stuff and just concentrate on "sounding good" rather than doing something that takes tons of focus while I'm trying to get back in shape.
January 31, 2020, 3:45 PM · Santiago,

I kind of feel your pain. I've had three major surgeries in two years and each one left me knackered and unable to stand for significant periods of time. Was my playing bang-on? No, but it comes back slowly at first and then one day it seems like you never stopped.

February 2, 2020, 9:12 PM · "Now i'm healthy so i picked up the violin to play again, but it's obvious: i'm out of shape."

If you can't recover in a day after not playing for week and a bit, maybe you're not entirely well yet and need to rest more.

February 3, 2020, 1:43 AM · Frankly, I have days when "everything sounds bad" and I don't seem to be able to produce anything listenable. For no discernible reason and without having to suffer through 10 days of agony beforehand. If I have a bad violin day like that I stop practicing and take up the fiddle the next day again (as an amateur I can afford to do that). And usually the next day things are back to normal.

So my first advice would be: Don't panic! Things will revert to normal (like most other things in life) even without any special practicing.

February 3, 2020, 10:35 AM · I have a feeling that the horror that we often face upon picking up the violin after a week of inactivity (aside from being out of shape) is partially due to our ears hearing our own sound a little more objectively, and that it's actually a good thing psychologically to the focus on what is sticking out, as it may have been there all along, but in focusing on other things, we got used to this or that aspect of our playing instead of correcting it, and it is now sticking out at us and asking for us to work on it. Think of it as a blessing in disguise.
February 3, 2020, 5:03 PM · Well, i got in shape again. Christian, you're right, this is a oportunity, in fact, i have noticed previously where i needed to work, and yes, after "coming back" to the violin I validated it. But, right now we are in holidays so until the start of classes i can't show them to my teacher, while doing my best to correcting them myself. But maybe you can help me a bit. My main flaws are:
I think my vibrato is quite bad, not as broader as I would like and i can't do wide and fast at the same time.
Overall, i noticed often I don't play the full values of the notes, like if i would do a staccato but unpurposely, so a lot of things sound "short"
My upbow staccato is bad, but now with the help of this forum i practiced a lot of studies and now is better
And i can't do ricochet. I can only do like 4-8 uneven and unconsistent notes and only in open strings: and I'm in a level where it's assumed i can do it fast and with strings crossings/scale runs but i never did it. The only time i did some was in the Mozart 3rd in the repeated A
Do you think it's ok to write another thread here for this? I would like some pieces/etudes that have ricochet but in a more progressive way, like some beginner and later intermediate, because i can't find these, only the Paganin-esque way of 8 note runs.
Thank you!
February 3, 2020, 5:41 PM · I'm sure there are people here that will have good suggestions for your specific concerns (I don't know the first thing about ricochet), but a sensible approach to say, tackling your vibrato, is to set aside 5 or 10 minutes in each practice session to focusing only on vibrato - I'm sure you can get specific exercises to do, but I bet you will also find that you can devise practice techniques yourself by experimenting a bit - That approach asks you to really listen and pay attention to and understand what you are doing, and it asks you to really search for the sound you want and try and be relaxed. There are times when we like to just drop everything and really work on one problem for hours, but if you just do 5 or 10 or 15 minutes every session, it prevents you from burning yourself out on the task, and you will find that in a month or two, you have made a good deal of progress.

In the end, you have to understand how you pick up concepts and learn, but it's often worth asking whether you are really isolating the thing you are working on, or whether you are trying to work on 3 or 4 different tasks at once, which can be confusing. That's why we often start something simply, like on an open string, get comfortable there, and then star adding the left hand in, and adding layers and layers.

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