How to take violin playing to next level?
Hello. I am an amateur adult violinist. I started some years ago, and I am now playing Vivaldi A minor concert. I want to know which is the best way to take my violin playing from there to an upper intermediate level.
I go to class every week. I can play in 1st to 5th positions. My vibrato is not very good and gets tense and tired soon.
Also, what is some repertoire for my level?
Practice more. :-)
You need to start regularly practicing scales and arpeggios. My teacher thinks that etudes are the key to building technique, and I'm likewise convinced.
Lydia suggests studying with the best teacher you can find. There is no substitute for that.
It's about incremental progress. Each day, set small goals to improve aspects of your technique. Meeting these daily goals over a long period of time is what contributes to the perception of reaching the "next level" when viewed annually.
Try to find out if there is a technical fault with your vibrato.
Vibrato takes time and CONSISTENT practice. As in most violin study the key is to take it slowly until the body and brain adapt; and in this case you develop the skill to be able to apply some pressure to the string while relaxing the last finger joint. As Lydia said - practice more!!
To advance to a higher level:
Thank you my friends. I never asked my teacher about this question. I will ask him. He plays in regional orchestra and I think he is good.
Ask your teacher for practice suggestions! Your teacher knows your strengths and weaknesses and what the next step for you should be. Get suggestions for how to make that next step. You can get a lot from short practice sessions, but you have to be very focused and have a purpose in mind. Also, it's much better if you stay consistent with practice, too. A short amount every day is much better than a long session once a week.
Vibrato is a technique that sounds awful in the learning stages. Do the vibrato training exercises without the bow, so you don't get discouraged or inhibited. Then one day it will suddenly click it. Technical progress , for both young and adults, students or pros, is not constant. There will be periods of consolidation followed by rapid breakthroughs. Keep plugging away at it. Arm- and wrist- vibrato are mechanically different. Be aware of which one your teacher wants.
Buri, yoga with Adriene would turn me into an animal as well.
OP, if you don't mind posting a video of you playing something, people here may also be able to provide specific advice/suggestions.
6 Easy Steps to Next Level Violin Playing™:
My solution to the tired-at-the-end-of-work syndrome was to practice first thing. 30 minutes at 6 am is probably worth 60 at 6 pm anyway.
I pre-plan practice sessions in 15 minute increments, writing down what I will play and what techniques to work on. Focusing on sticking points and fundamentals such as beginning always with scales and etudes are constants.
What amazes and impresses me about the human spirit and music is for instance that Roger writes this "I have a hard job and get home late and tired and don't concentrate well." and yet instead of chilling out watching TV or whatever (nothing wrong with that!) he is motivated to practice violin and not only that, to keep improving. What is it about us humans that we so want to do this? And thank goodness we do! I'm sure your drive to play and keep improving is enormously beneficial to your playing progress, however you figure out to keep improving. For me finding others to play with has vastly boosted my practicing motivation and variation and stretched my abilities but this may not be the best way. You sound plenty motivated already. Best of luck to you, Roger!
Thank you for all the replies. I will read them tonight or tomorrow. I can't read them well now. You are very kind.
"article on Simon’s site about playing with freedom and ease. I’m off to reread all his stuff."
+1 to Karen Egee. I also admire you for being keen on improvement. My suggestion is to set aside
Play a lot of scales, apreggios and etudes instead of repertoires
Lots of good advice on here already. I think I’ll just say that it’s better to practice less with full focus on fundamentals as opposed to practicing many hours and repeating out of tune notes and wrong rhythms. So practicing long hours sloppily does not necessarily translate into greater playing. Neither does just practicing scales or Kreutzer etudes without any clear goals or standards.
I find my playing level increases significantly after working on Bach for a while. Starting with the concertos and then moving into the sonatas and partitas in increasing difficulty seems for me to bust me over a plateau each time.
Oh yes Buri! Rodney Friend has an extremely analytical mind and I admire his playing very much. It wouldn’t surprise me if he can get a bulk of his work done in that timeframe.
In Bach's 220+ cantatas there is a wealth of violin gold in the shape of first violin parts, solos, and obbligato accompaniments to arias. There are also oboe solos that should transfer to the violin without much trouble. Bach, a pragmatic composer like Handel, wasn't averse to recycling a good tune, so, as one example of several, in one of his cantatas there is a keyboard transcription of the prelude to the E major violin partita - but in D. It's good fun for the keyboard player. I don't know which came first, the cantata version or the violin partita prelude.
It's sometimes difficult with COVID, but make sure that you're getting full measure of enjoyment with the current technique that you've already achieved.
Taking the violin to the next level for me involves carrying it up two flights of stairs to the loft level. Which is not as daft as it sounds - my loft has good thermal and sound insulation, so I'm not disturbed by domestic sounds downstairs, my good neighbors, or by traffic noise. And if I can't hear them, then surely they can't hear me ;)
You are on a good track! If you have conquered Vivaldi A minor then you have all kinds of good options, for example, the Bach Double and Vivaldi G minor. Keep progressing, learning new rep. Doflein Book 3 does wonders at the stage you are at, if you have not already studied from that book. More position and shifting work will also help you with your vibrato.
Sorry for late reply. I've been very busy last weeks. THANK YOU for your answers. You are amazing!
Thank you, Roger, for asking your question. The answers are helpful to me, and probably for many others lurking here as well.
I've certainly heard the two hour advice more than once. That is to say, practice with focus. This combined with the thought that NO ONE can concentrate for 4 to 6 hours every day. These are not my ideas; I'm just repeating them. I generally concur, though, with the overall idea.