How to get back after 3 months without playing?

Edited: September 14, 2021, 5:37 AM · Hi! I've spent 3 months without getting classes or even touching the violin. I will resume classes this week. I haven't been far from music though: I've been intensively studying piano for the last month since two friends asked me to accompany a violinist during their wedding.

Everything went great at the wedding, but now it's passed, I have to regain some violin skills during my practice time, so I'll ask you for some tips to get back in track with:

(1) Vibrato.
(2) Shifting, and positions in general (1st to 5th position).
(3) Left hand fingers agility.
(4) Bowing technique.
(5) Double and triple stops.

I left my classes while studying a Rieding concerto (I can't remember the Opus right now).

Thank you very much!

Replies (12)

September 14, 2021, 6:36 AM · Work on etudes!
September 14, 2021, 7:33 AM · Arpeggios might be helpful. Slurred with an evenness in sound across the notes, played forwards and backwards.

Dancla’s Ecole du mecanisme might be helpful in developing more greater finger independence and agility.

Edited: September 14, 2021, 11:59 AM · Review the same technical fundamentals that you did when learning the violin the first time around; exercises, scales, arpeggios, etudes; slow, patient, careful. It should take about 2 weeks.
September 14, 2021, 11:54 AM · Any sort of playing, once you know how, can be retrieved. But to avoid problems creeping in, start with relaxation and posture. Long, slow bows, some of the one-position scales designed to get your hand position and sense of pitch on track. Flesch's UrStudien is a decent model, although you might find others more appropriate to your level.
September 14, 2021, 3:30 PM · Greetings,
watch the Kurganov videos on Ysaye scales and then practice the first (?) exercises.
For vibrato, use the simon Fischer warming up routine . Watch the video explaining it by Nathan Cole..
For bowing do any and all variations of bowing on a simple etude by Wolfart, kayser et al.
Also colle at heel followed by colle at point type exercises.
Double stops is just scales in thirds, 6ths and octaves or whatever.
Edited: September 14, 2021, 3:40 PM · Flesch's UrStudien has an incredible amount in only 9 pages of music.

At my advanced age (now) starting to play every morning feels like it's been 3 months since the last time. I always start with very slow bow (5 to 10 seconds per) 3-octave G major scale up and down and then the same with the G minor scale. Or if I feel pressed for time major up and minor down. 40 years ago I would prep for my daily 30-minute warm-up by playing that same scale in one-bow up and one-bow down. Only after those 30 minutes (Etudes. simpler P-nini Caprices) would I "go to work" on my then "current musical project." Now I need to be sure I can keep the bow steady, etc. not whether I can hit the notes.

Next I play something crisper like a perpetual motion or the Kreisler/Mozart Rondo (from the Haffner Serenade). Nothing too advanced - just to make sure my body parts are functioning! If I tried a 30 minute warm-up these days I'd have nothing left for the rest of the day.

September 14, 2021, 3:43 PM · Just go back and review the stuff you were working on a few months before you left off. You'll be back at full strength in a few weeks, I predict.
September 14, 2021, 4:37 PM · I agree. It is a bad idea to anticipate (purely theoretically) a ton of problems. When--and if-- a problem actually does occur you'll know what it is and this makes it easier to plan for a solution than it is now.

My experience with hiatuses of this kind is that I have to watch my intonation* more consciously than usual for a while. My ability to play fast will not immediately be where it used to be but patience is all that is required on this account.

*Intonation is tricky though: Of all the technical problems it is certainly the one most likely to suddenly backslide considerably and unexplainably (in my experience--I should not make general statements of this kind).

Edited: September 14, 2021, 6:21 PM · I would start with Schradieck, then go on to scales, and you can start on 3rds/6th/8ves, and then if you have done any etudes go back to them. Kreutzer 2 is always good, or something else for detache. You can go back and very slowly look at the Rieding again for vibrato or for different bowings.

Don't get caught up with triple stops and don't worry too much about the double stops now. If you go back to the Rieding, do so slowly and carefully from the perspective of playing relaxed, and not from the perspective of performing. Work in front of a mirror to check that your wrist is relaxed, and that your bowing is straight. You can always just practice bowing open strings.

Don't overdo any particular aspect and hurt yourself or burn yourself out. Honestly, I may have already given you a bit much to focus on, given what repertoire you are working on.

September 14, 2021, 7:44 PM · I agree with Albrecht that intonation might be the hardest to get back, and this is what tennis players say about their serve. But sometimes I wonder if my ability to listen objectively benefits from a little time off. :)

One thing to avoid is overdoing the practice time the first few days and ending up injured.

September 15, 2021, 8:32 AM · Hang on, this is 3 months not 30 years! A few exercises and etudes, some easy and then moderately hard pieces and you should be back on track.

Not really sure why there is an issue. Do you really feel that disconnected? If so then there is a question about your fundamental training that you need to address. Those fundamentals should be just as much a part of you as walking or chewing food! If they are not then get a basics-teacher and work on that.

September 15, 2021, 12:04 PM · Thank you very much everyone for your replies and suggestions. Some of them are overkill for me, but everything is welcome! I will talk tomorrow with my teacher and also see what does he suggest.

Andrew Victor: It's always a pleasure to read you and get advice from someone who has spent more years playing the violin than my actual age. Thank you!

Stephen Brivati: I'll search for those videos and watch them. They "look" good. Thank you.

Christian Lesniak: Definitely much to focus on. Maybe I just have to watch my crooked bowing. But thank you very much!

All of the rest: I love that this community always answers in a serious way, even to the least advanced amateurs. Thank you very much.

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