Please Criticise! Bruch Violin Concerto No 1, First Movement

May 15, 2023, 9:02 AM · * posting on my son’s behalf till he get his account *

Hi, my name is Liam. I am currently working on the Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1, first movement, and my teacher wanted me to criticise my own playing. Well, it is a lot harder than I thought; it is hard to pick what’s wrong since it is what I play after all.

My dad told me about this forum and suggested I post my video here for feedback. So here goes, please criticise my playing! I want to improve so don’t hold back!


Replies (45)

Edited: May 15, 2023, 2:12 PM · Generally I enjoyed your playing. I think you have a good sound although it's hard to tell with just a phone recording. This is a great piece for you, well matched to your level.

There's an obvious slide in the first phrase, from the Bb to the D. I know this is late Romantic-era music, but you're executing this particular slide on a bow change, which means it's an affectation (purposeful, rather than organic). Are you sure you want that? I heard another one at 1:52. I'm not saying all slides are bad, but when you bear down on your bow at the same time, it's kind of "in-your-face." I thought the one at 2:20 was tasteful, also at 3:15 and 3:20.

Around 4:00, just when things started to get hairy, you lost your sound point. My suggestion is: When things get tough, don't let your scroll drop. Your bow will surely follow. In general your scroll could be higher. Look at your sound point at 4:30. That's high-intensity bariolage, and you wanted a more aggressive sound point. Toward 4:40 you recovered some.

Your vibrato sounds very full-throated and lush. Well, it's good that you can do that, but be mindful not to overvibrate in softer passages. I heard this some in the beginning of the piece but then I didn't notice it so much later on.

You have an admirable technical command. You know the high notes, octaves, and chords that were not in tune -- I don't need to point them out to you. Work on your octaves, you will need them again for Mendelssohn. Scales and chromatic scales in octaves will help. Sixths, too, for this piece.

I know what my teacher would say: Don't rock back and forth so much with your whole body when you play. You're consuming energy to do that, and it can't be good for your overall physical balance. Better physical balance will make your shifts more secure. Make sure your overall stance is very solid with your feet well separated and your knees slightly bent so that you can be the athlete you need to be for this task.

As well as you're playing this piece, you should have it memorized.

Again, nice playing overall. You have the makings of a fine violinist.

May 15, 2023, 2:47 PM · These are just my opinions, so take them with a grain of salt:

1) Too much Rubato in the beginning leads to an aimless, wandering phrase.

2) Use a bit more time before big jumps so you can land them more accurately.

3) When the runs start at 4:05, you need to stay focused on what the bow is doing. You're too committed to figuring out the left hand there, and as a result your tone starts to get weak and uncommitted.

But on the whole, it's worth mentioning that I think it's good playing and I doubt I could do better!

Edited: May 16, 2023, 3:41 AM · Well done.
If I ha dto pick up on just one thing it would be your intonation. It's almost good but not quite. It's not just thta you are missing notes but rather there is not nearly enough attention to how sharp sharps should be and how flat flats should be. This is compounded by the degrees of the scale that should be most objective such as tonics, fourths dominants are not consistent with each other.Very often your f# is flat and then you put the following g to close to it so that is then flat ina kind of downward spiral. You need to check everything with open strings and really start listenign hard to whether something is in tune or not.
This kind of honest work is tirng but you need to bite thebullet to get to the next highets level of playing , which I think you can.
You also nee dto think more aout the structure of what you are playing. Where is the music heading. For example, You bang out the e flat in the second entry but eeverything kind of dies after that so it feelslike you ae walkign backwards musically.
It would help to study Simon Fischers scale manual veyr carefully. He explains how to get in tune on theinstrument brilliantly.
BTW You also have the habit of suddenly speeding the bow up as you approach the poin which makes an accent for no reason. (Still like your playing though :))
May 16, 2023, 9:29 AM · Others have said much of what I would criticise, but please watch for the "whumph" at the ends of long notes. They would better "diminuendo" with grace. Thanks I enjoy listening to your "in progress" work.
May 16, 2023, 12:49 PM · You're a good enough player, that I'm sure you already know where the major intonation issues are. Other things largely come down to personal preference. An "outside of the envelope" interpretation (which I somewhat consider yours to be) can refresh an old work which has gotten "long in the tooth".
May 16, 2023, 4:49 PM · I'm not a huge fan of critiquing kids online in public, but since you asked and since he doesn't look too young, here goes. How old is Liam anyway?

1) For the most part intonation was pretty good. This makes the spots where it is not very obvious. Identify those and clean them up. It shouldn't be too hard.

2) Your improvisatory sections (beginning and end) need a little work with shaping. They tend to be a little self-indulgent. The beginning and end lack a fluidity in the line, as they are too segmented with too much rubato. They are overall a little slow as well. As others have mentioned, watch the slides. Rubato means to give and take. You are taking way more than you give. Think about pushing the faster notes forward and saving the time taking for musically important spots.

3) I can tell you definitely have not played this with orchestra and maybe not a lot with piano as well. Some of your choice throughout will not work timewise when you are playing with other players. Your fast sections have to be relatively well in time in order to play with a whole orchestra.

4) The slow section in the middle is too slow for my taste. I would also work on your legato (and its connection to vibrato) in this section. Instead of making a long line, your notes to kind of fade in and out. Think about making one really long line and shape the long line instead of shaping every single note.

5) Overall, you play with very nice, clean technique. Your runs are clear, your string crossings are clear, and they tend to be even. Your sound is good and your vibrato quite nice.

May 16, 2023, 5:56 PM · Greetings,
Susan, agree with almost all your comments as usual. However, although the intonation is not clearly horrible it does need a rethink. It is in a kind of danger zone where it is not obviously bad but is kind of a habit to be less than clear, not in tune with the open strings (sorry he isn’t-pleas listen again)In my opinion, this kind of ‘not quite/not awful intonation habit need sto be checked as quickly as possible before it becomes too deeply ingrained. It goes right to the heart of the expressiveness and resonance of the violin.
Edited: May 16, 2023, 6:26 PM · I agree with you, Stephen, however, there are many passages where the intonation is actually quite good. His concept of intonation is good, and there seems to be a direct correlation between good intonation and his overall comfort with a given passage in the music. I really think he needs to memorize the music to the point where he is thinking less about where his fingers are supposed to go and more on whether or not the notes he is playing, are truly accurate. Your eyes become a distraction in this case, causing your focus to wonder, causing the pitch to wander. However, overall, for a young student, not bad. But again, Stephen , I agree, it's almost there, but just not quite. From 4:00 on, for example, i fee it's just not quite on, off by just a little.
Edited: May 16, 2023, 6:23 PM · Greetings,
Bruce: yes there are passages where his intonation is good which clearly demonstrates Liam has the ability to correct those that aren’t. What he is not doing is checking enough with open strings and achieving consistency across the instrument. I don’t know exactly what concept of intonation means. I think it is too vague. You either play in tune or you don’t . Liam’s concept of key is not quite there. I think he has not considered the question that much because he sounds ok under his ear and to the listener. I am just saying if he wants to take his playing to a higher level he will have to develop far greater self discipline in intonation. He could immediately improve things by playing the Fischer Basics exercise where you play a lot of finger patterns on different strings in the key you are working in. If he then went back to the concerto he would immediately start to hear that things are just slightly off. Another approach would be to play through a passage omitting notes between notes of the same name. IE play only the Gs making sure of their consistency. Then adding some 4ths and fifths , Then the subjective notes such as F# and Bflat. Incidentally, If he was my student, I would have him play scales in 7ths and fourths to sharpen his ear. There is also a wonderful exercise in Warming Up (Fischer) where you practice putting your fingers closer than you might normally in order to sharpen you sensitivity to this unique feature of the violin.
Liam bravely posted this quite decent performance because he is starting to get stuck a little on how to improve. My advice as a teacher is to take this opportunity to dig much deeper into what it means to play in tune (wrong notes a different problem) . It’s this ability to dig a little deeper that separates the pretty good from the great
Edited: May 16, 2023, 6:32 PM · I think what I mean by concept of intonation is this: some people really don't have a good sense of the key that they are in. It's clear to me that he is aware of the notes he is playing and whether or not they're in tune. There's just a laziness there, or he's struggling with comfort with the notes, causing his fingers to just not quite hit. I don't actually agree with you when you say that he doesn't have a good concept of the key. I never feel like he's losing that sense of the key. Instead, I feel like he's kind of dancing on the outside on the boundaries of that key. Hard to explain precisely. Maybe we're actually saying the same thing.
May 16, 2023, 6:32 PM · I think memorize it, and also practice it from the end and go backwards. The beginning page or two is really strong, but it seems to me like you are a little less confident after that.

Great job!

May 16, 2023, 11:56 PM · You all are wonderful! Thank you for giving me your valuable time into providing feedbacks on my playing.

@Susan, I am 13. Playing since around 5-6 years old, with around 1hr practice daily, a little more recently.

From the discussion, the key problem seems to be intonation. I have to confess that this is a weak point for me. I have been avoiding scales for most part of my violin journey. In fact, I have played more scales since I changed my teacher 6 lessons ago, than the last 8 years combined! So I do not have a sharp/keen hearing on the pitch, and when I do hear the error, as @Bruce puts it, it is not quite easy for me to hit the spot. A lot of basic things I need to re-learn, and I will work harder on this point.

@Buri, my dad placed an order for Simon’s “Scales” from Amazon!

My new teacher advocates variety (@David will love him). In the short 1-2 months, he had taught me more on interpretation and many things to color my tone and playing (e.g. playing certain alternate notes off, in an ascending passage to make it sound more interesting). He would ask me to play a passage in a certain way in one lesson, and ask me to play the same passage differently at home, and discuss with him on the next lesson.

Self-critic is key for him but it is hard for me… I just play. Now, I want to know (and able to tell) if I am using the “tools” that he has given me in a right manner and at the right time. Changes in my playing should not be a random thing.

There are many things and thoughts discussed here that are new to me, at least, not something I pay attention to consciously. E.g. the musical line that @Susan mentioned, the slides that @Paul pointed out, or the rubato that @Erik/@Susan picked up, or even the habit of bow-racing that @Buri and @Helen caught me doing (btw, I call it poise :).

You all have given me a lot to think about, and help to put some concepts and things-to-look-for when I played in a certain way. Thank you!

May 17, 2023, 3:43 AM · As a side note, a great way of building general intonation is to use drones, either while playing scales or when playing passages. Having a constant source of reference really helps to properly develop the ear.

(By drones, I mean a constant pitch in the background while you play...generally the ideal note to drone for scales is the key you're in, e.g. A for A Major)

May 17, 2023, 11:13 AM · I'm glad you found the feedback useful, Liam. Practicing scales will certainly help. Your intonation actually didn't stick out to me as being the biggest problem, I'd say it's quite good for the most part, though there are definitely a number of places that can be more in tune. I would say the phrasing issues that were mentioned above stuck out more to me, you want to sustain a long line but it sounds segmented right now. I would also suggest a calmer vibrato in the slow section, right now it sounds a bit much for my taste.
Edited: May 18, 2023, 7:24 AM · Yes, strive for better intonation to take it to the next level.

Erik mentions drones, and they can be helpful as a start to get the idea of blending a note of the scale with the drone. This can only be done slowly. Listen for the best blend before you go on. (Singing in a choir will help with that.)

There is another thread running right now on intonation with some very good comments about intonation and tone. It's important that after working with a drone you'll make the resonating strings of your violin become your drone. Listen hard.

Also, in those passages where you really stand out in a performance such as the largamente and following entrance, practice the notes as if they are part of a scale so that you hear the interval of a scale (a 2nd, a 5th, a 4th etc.). For example, are you really playing an octave in bar 50? What important interval is that in bar 48? What is the interval between the F in bar 45 and the E in 46 and finally the D that get's repeated (always the same MHz D) in 48, 49, 50? Some harmonic understanding will help you play more in tune.

Edited: May 17, 2023, 5:23 PM · If you're measuring your D in MHz, it's a little sharp. :)
Edited: May 17, 2023, 6:50 PM · Greetings,
Liam, I would like to offer you my respect for posting an honest response. I would love to have a student like you who is actually willing to listen and learn , and doping so develop their judgement and self awareness son the wonderful journey of violin playing. I sensed straightaway that you didn’t do much in the way of scales and were in the habit of playing through things too much . As a result you have ingrained the slight blurring in your intonation that I mentioned will increasingly hold you back. However, I am absolutely sure that someone with your level of talent can very quickly rectify this through focused scale work. I hope you post again in a month to demonstrate how much focusing on this point has improved your playing.
Warmest regards,
PS Thanks for your comment Jim. We do talented students a grave disservice if we gloss over things that matter. It’s actually a little patronizing. If one is honestly at ‘Bruch Level’ then one is in the adult world of violin playing where, as Casal’s put it ‘Intonation is a moral obligation.’
May 17, 2023, 7:50 PM · :O Hz, of course. You have a sharp eye.
Edited: May 17, 2023, 10:48 PM · I just listened to this for the first time, and I find the intonation comments across this thread quite interesting.

Liam's pitch bothers me a lot. A lot of notes aren't so out of tune that I'd remark on it to an intermediate-level student, for instance, but at this Bruch level, intonation not only has to be consistently correct, but artistic (harmonically aware).

It's not just the high notes that are out of tune. Many notes in lower registers and even in 1st position are not adequately in tune. It's sufficient that I found the intonation really distracting, since so many notes aren't quite right.

Also, in many cases, those out-of-tune notes get held and not corrected, suggesting that Liam isn't hearing that they're out of tune (otherwise he'd instinctively slide to correct or alter his vibrato to mask the pitch issue). That's especially worrying when the pitch is an A, D, or G, where the sympathetic resonance (or lack thereof) with the open string should be a red flag.

Liam, I suggest that you go back and listen to this video. Can you hear how much you're out of tune? If you can, you "just" need to slow down and be more careful as you're practicing -- slow it down, imagine every pitch in your head, make sure you're correctly matching those pitches.

If you can't (and I suspect this is the case at least part of the time, based on those held out-of-tune notes), try taking a pitch discrimination test, like the one at You want your pitch discrimination to be 3 cents or less. Ideally as an advanced violinist, your pitch discrimination would allow you to differentiate accurately at a 1 cent interval. You gain this from consistently paying attention to pitch -- it's a function of your brain's audio processing, not physical hearing.

May 17, 2023, 11:14 PM · Thank you so much Lydia. I thought I was screaming in space…
Edited: May 17, 2023, 11:32 PM · LOL, tonedeaftest! That's hilarious! That's priceless!

A young student can enter, and after a thorough array of psychological batteries, learn that they're actually hopelessly insane.

May 17, 2023, 11:44 PM · Liam,
I see you are posting on youtube as well with the same request. Haven’t read the comments yet but I would advise a little caution. It is very difficult to know who you are getting feedback from and how useful it is. As the Greek philosopher Seneca noted: ‘For as it is, the precious and noble characteristic of wisdom is that she does not advance to meet us, that each man is indebted to himself for her, and that we do not seek her at the hands of others.’
Anyway, I would first suggest that you reframe things a bit in your own mind as ‘How can I improve this?’ Actually, the process of improving things is not that complex once you recognize the basic elects of violin playing: These are: intonation, rythm, tone, dynamics and relaxation . (I am indebted to Simon Fischer in ‘The Violin lesson’ for reminding us that once a passage is mastere din terms of the surface elements we must continually strive for greater relaxtion and then more, and then more….)
So, in a sense this is what you need to do when you practice. Ask your self which element you want to focus on. Do you actually know how to improve it? Sometimes its easy. For example working with a metronome is a concrete way of improving rythmn. If you are not happy with the sound you are making how can you improve it? You know the factors are spped, weight and contact point so take a careful look at what you are doing with these. For intonation you now know this is an area of focus and can practice with open strings. If a note is in tune once that is not enough of course. You need to place that finger many times to unlearn the incorrect pitch and physical movement.
Right now your interpretation is pushing and pulling in all different directions in response to some kind of internal emotional impulse. That is not a bad thing, but , as Oistrakh once remarked (may even have been the Bruch) before you start playing about with it, make sure you can play it in time. Slavishly working with the metronome may serve as a means of indicating your rythm is all over the shop but it won’t necessarily push you towards any desired internal rythm nic drive. One thing it is useful to experiment with is imagining an underlying pulse or rhythmic configuration. When you play long notes, don’t just play them and hope they are the right length. Imagine triplets, or semi quavers or combinations of rhythms taking place underneath your sound. See how this affects the interpretation.
Another useful exercise is to take a copy of your score and sit down with a video of recording of someone that you really like playing this work. Don’t just casually listen too it. Go through it phrase by phrase until you have grasped exactly what they are doing in terms of dynamics, rubato , vibrato and anything else that is going on. Write it all down and try replicating those things in your own performance. This is not to say that one should just produce a blank copy of some great player, but only a fool claims we don’t learn from great models. The key is to keep an open mind and try it. Compare it with what you do? Why do you think they did it? Why do you do what you do? Having tried their version, would you like to ad d your own version of that crescendo they do in your own performance. You have to keep an open questioning mind during this procedure which you can certainly apply to more than one violinist. Another thing you can do (also described in loving detail by Simon in the violin lesson) is copy exactly what a great solist is doing. Take for example the first double stops on the first page. Take a look at the Menuhin video (?whoeevr) What bowing is he using. how fast is the bow speed? How close to the bridge is he? What kind of vibrato? Can you copy these things and get a little closer to his sound by doing what he is doing? That is real learning. (There are probably naysayers jumping out of their seats at the advice I am giving you . I would remind them that the Young Menuhin was so bowled over from hearing Kreisler that he locked him es away in a practice room for a week searching for the physical/emotional/whatever processes that lay behind the Lreisler sound because he so badly wanted to emulate it)
In essence, you can learn from yourself and form great violinists but beware the dangers of semi trained advice, or mean spiritedness that you -will- meet online. V.commie will not be mean spirited but Youtube….mmmm.
Look forward to hearing about your progress,
Edited: May 18, 2023, 4:13 PM · I suspect Lydia is seeing a test on that website that we are not seeing. The basic one that pops up is absolutely useless. Everybody on should be able to get 100% on that. I certainly hope there's another test on there that she is referring to otherwise, that was a very condescending thing for her to say. There is the option to download iOS app. Perhaps this app has more tests that she is seeing. I don't have time to deal with this right now. I will look at it tonight. However, I'm somewhat reluctant. A test like this reminds me of some of those online IQ tests that are largely meaningless and often require you to pay a small amount in order to get the result.
May 18, 2023, 4:30 PM · I tend to disagree that checking with open strings is the right way to handle intonation in this case. I still believe drones to be superior (I recommend "cello drones", since they play multiple octaves simultaneously). Why?:

Firstly, because in pretty much all music, with the exception of solo Bach, we are tuning to *another* instrument. We aren't listening for the ringing tones as much as we are harmonically matching to whomever else is playing.

Secondly, a drone is a *constant* source of pitch reference that is immediately obvious. Having to stop and check every single note with an open string is a great way of wasting practice time, although admittedly it is a nice strategy for forcing a person to slow down. Most of the time, we'll get a lot more done if we have the constant drone, especially because it allows us to match the intonation to a whole phrase, as opposed to just each individual note. Basically, it allows us to see either the "trees" or the "forest" depending on what we want to see at that given moment. Checking with open strings only allows us to see the "trees".

Thirdly (and perhaps most relevantly in this case), drones help to fix "wandering intonation", where a player's relative sense of pitch can be thrown off if they miss one note, because their ear is now going to use that wrong note as the reference for the next note. A good example of "wandering intonation" is when a student tries a 3-octave scale for the first time. They might start on a C, but end up on a C# by the time they reach the top of the scale, since each slightly off note leads to the next one being even more off. Little by little, they wander until they end up changing the entire basis of the scale.

Edited: May 18, 2023, 5:03 PM · If you're comfortable with recognizing specific intervals, you can test pitch accuracy at any point with an open string and not just with those notes that create sympathetic resonance. I would have thought you'd need this same ability with the drone. Each note played would create an interval with the drone that you'd need to recognize to establish if your note is accurate.

Lots of chromatic scales will also help with the "wandering" intonation issue since assuming you've correctly learned the fingering , you should recognize the tonic at beginning middle and end. I've also caught myself wandering a few times while practicing thirds if I finger it without the open string.

Edited: May 18, 2023, 8:05 PM · I agree that Liam's intonation needs work. However, I also think Liam's intonation is better than the majority of the attempts I hear from kids working on Bruch, and much better than the vast majority of adult amateurs. Intonation is a work in progress for everyone. Getting to an advanced level requires more critical work. Some teachers have to prioritize other issues in lessons and neglect to supervise finer details of your intonation, but that doesn't mean that you get to stop working on it.

Could this be about needing to reform your practice strategies? What I'm hearing isn't really a failure to recognize pitches, but a call to fix issues in a dedicated way during practice sessions. Sloppiness could become a habit if you're not constantly pushing yourself.

I see this happening when a student is cramming a lot of music, or practicing by rote, or simply not putting in the time.

This comment applies also to rhythm and tempo in some passages. Have you tried practicing with a metronome or accompaniment app? It sounds like you've been playing by yourself in a vacuum. Keep in mind that there is an orchestra or pianist with whom you're partnering. Metronome work is tedious, but it's fundamental and will improve the impression you make with your audience.

May 18, 2023, 7:07 PM · There seems to be general consensus among the experienced teachers and pros here (I'm not one of them) that you have some work to do to get to the next level, but I'm also sensing that they feel you can do that, if you put your mind to it. That's got to be the response you were hoping for, no?

I recommend Sassmanshaus's videos ( on intonation, including how to work on a piece from the beginning and increasing the tempo with a metronome. Warning that the advice will be to start at such a slow tempo that the rhythmic relationships among the notes are irrelevant.

Edited: May 18, 2023, 8:21 PM · Ann, how are you calculating the "6 cents"? When I go to that link you provided it gives me a test of 32 different sounds. I got all 32 correct, with average response time of 1.5 seconds, making me better than 99.9% of people, so it claims. This isn't a very difficult test since the best you need to be able to hear is 1/64 of a tone.
May 18, 2023, 8:34 PM · I agree with you, Paul. I'm no pro either, but I can tell the OP has potential to play well if they put in the work and get the right instruction, though there are definitely quite a few things to work on. As I and some others said before, while intonation absolutely needs work, it wasn't out of tune to the point that I would complain a lot about it. I've seen much worse.
May 18, 2023, 9:03 PM · Yeah, I tried the test too. I found that I can be very accurate up to 1/16th of a tone, or *10 cents. 1/32nd I can guess and maybe get it right at least 80% of the time, but at that point the difference is nearly indistinguishable to me, and that's for someone who has been very pitch sensitive since I was born due to a multitude of factors that I will not go into here for privacy reasons.

Still though, I'm a little sad the thread has derailed into this. I hope the young OP doesn't feel bad reading all this, because I feel like some people are making the problem a somewhat bigger deal than it is even though I know working on intonation is super important, and doing it effectively is crucial.

May 18, 2023, 9:11 PM · Sorry, Ella, it's all Lydia's fault. Ha ha! Just teasing.

And I agree with you. Intonation is a big issue, but so are a lot of things. Over all, he's on the right track and now just needs to fine tune his performance. Kudos to him for sticking his neck out. Recording yourself, being accurate, and then sticking yourself on a public forum, is not easy.

May 18, 2023, 11:11 PM · You're right, Ann. If you could hear the 1/64th of a tone consistently, multiply (1/64) X 100 = 1.5625 cents.
May 19, 2023, 1:12 AM · I hope Liam has by now learned the only actual lesson to be gained from this exercise, which is that it is absolute and total folly to crowdsource your violin pedagogy from a group of strangers on the internet, particularly when you are already working with a teacher.

Liam, if I understand the assignment correctly, your teacher wanted YOU to develop your own ideas and opinions, and it sounds like you are being asked to listen to yourself with more detail. That's really the key to teaching yourself. You're totally talented, and you'll do just fine.

May 19, 2023, 1:54 AM · While I do think some are being overly critical, I think there is some solid advice to be had here, Christian. As long as OP doesn't feel discouraged from the feedback, some of it could very well come in handy. I know that I've improved a lot from the times I have posted here, even though I felt discouraged pretty much every time.
Edited: May 19, 2023, 3:11 AM · It's more like OP already has a pretty good pizza in the oven, and now everyone is adding olives and bacon and pineapple and pine nuts and pine cones and pinesol and pina colada mix, and while a few of those are potentially credible pizza toppings, they're all incoherent on what was already a good pizza that really just needed some time in the oven.

What's the point of trying to drink through this firehose? I still think that it misses the point of the assignment, and I think that this forum has misapprehended its own capability to take on duties best left to a teacher.

I'm of the mind that teenagers that are posting and looking for feedback are either pretty good, and mostly just need a kind word so that they can keep going on their path, or they are pretty delusional, in which case I'm not the one to burst their bubble (or perhaps I unfortunately have been in the past). Master teachers in masterclasses are far more circumspect in their advice than this thread is.

Don't mind my deep skepticism/optimism. Skeptimism.

Edited: May 19, 2023, 5:00 AM · I still think playing with drones is useful, no matter how many pineapples and pinenuts are involved.

All kidding aside, I guarantee the OP is smart enough to be able to sort through the extraneous info here. Take some, leave most, and gain some insight in the process. It's often useful to know what other people think, even if you don't intend to take their advice.

Edited: May 19, 2023, 9:42 AM · To the OP, I say this: despite the criticism that you see on here, you are still progressing well for your age. Just a little more focus needed now on the details. Thank you for posting this. And thanks to this discussion about intonation it sent me back to my practice thinking, who the heck am I to be criticizing? However, I ended my practice this morning with a much more in tune Paganini caprice #9, and solo Bach sonata # 1. It's not about drones or open strings or anything other than just listening, carefully, going slowly, and paying attention to everything you hear about you're playing.
May 19, 2023, 1:40 PM · There used to be a number of good pitch-discrimination tests out there, including one great one that offered very narrow intervals and also testing at different frequencies since pitch discrimination does deteriorate at higher frequencies for older people. Unfortunately, all of them use Flash, and most of us no longer have Flash installed on our computers.

I used a link to the first one that I found that might fit the bill, but I didn't go through the test myself. If someone else has a suggestion for an alternative pitch-discrimination test it would certainly be appreciated by many, I'd bet.

I think a student looking for feedback at this level should receive the most honest feedback available. None of this is meant unkindly.

Going back earlier in the thread, the finger-patterns-in-a-key exercise that Buri mentioned is Basics #255. I love that exercise. I often use it in lieu of playing scales, because I find doing things that are intervalic is more useful for my intonation than the stepwise sequence of a scale.

Fischer's recommendation for how to work on scales, though, is terrific. You start by playing just the tonic. Then you add the fourth and fifth, since they are perfect intervals. Then the third and seventh, since they are treated like leading tones. Then the second and sixth, where you have more discretion.

Because the brain will throw away pitch-discrimination information if it isn't important, routinely not paying attention to the precision of your intonation teaches your brain to ignore small pitch differences, so you literally cannot really hear yourself out of tune. I took a decade-long break from the violin, and it took a full year for my pitch discrimination to fully return -- even though I have perfect pitch. During that year I really needed to pay close attention, and even then I sometimes couldn't tell if I was too high or too low, though I could tell I was off. So Liam, you might have some difficult months ahead of you as you try to make your brain pay proper attention.

But you're already a solid enough player that this kind of detail matters. (It's great that your teacher is trying to help you learn to critique yourself.)

May 19, 2023, 6:08 PM · IOP, I have never been and will never be good enough to play theBruch concerto, so I will not presume to criticise your playing. However, I flatter myself I’m really good at reading between the lines on the internet and I posit that your teacher dos not really want to criticise yourself, either. Or not in the way “the slide in bar 35 was really good, but the slide in bar 89 not so much…”

You say you have switched teachers only six lessons ago before posting, so a matter of weeks, and that you have already played more scales than you have all your life.

Sounds like the teacher has immediately pegged an area in which there is great room for improvement, and already has a plan to help you improve, playing scales and arpeggi as so many have recommended. But it appears that you have not quite figured out yet how to apply what you’re learning by practising scales to your playing, how to translate it into clearer intonation.

I think your teacher wants you to learn to listen, really listen to yourself.

Keep going.

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