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Almost 2 months learning
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K_hand
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September 19, 2017 - 10:29 am
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At about 1 week shy of two months, I'm giving this another go to see what I can improve. Self taught with no instructor to auto correct me as I butcher notes and fingering, so all criticism is appreciated, no matter how brutal. This video is a recap of the last one with a 2nd octave on the scale, somewhere over the rainbow, and am attempting "who you really are" from the BBC show Sherlock. 

 

The only thing necessary for evil to triumph, is for good men to do nothing...

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Fiddlerman
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September 19, 2017 - 1:34 pm
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Bravo K_hand,

Keep up the great work and imagine how you will sound in the future. 🙂

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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damfino
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You're doing great 😀 cheerleaderclap

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BillyG
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September 19, 2017 - 4:19 pm
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I still think that's pretty darned good for the time you have been playing.  You asked for comments - mine are "only mine" as a still relative newcomer to the instrument, and these are  - 

(1) Intonation - know what - on the whole, pretty good - but IMO that does not really matter - you're doing good, and, as time goes by you'll get so close, you will be able to "pull it in so rapidly that most listeners will be unaware" - and actually as I said - it's pretty good - so - that's not an issue - just a comment... !!! LOL  Well done !

(2) The overall hold - I see you reaching "really high" with right-arm / bow - shoulder "lift" to reach the G string - and equally, I see you playing on the top E "with relative ease" - Way I see it - everyone is different - some folks - longer arms, whatever, seem to scarcely need to shift the violin position - equally - a lot of folks DO.   Just a suggestion - the fiddle does not NEED to be in a rock-solid fixed position - it can rotate under your neck and chin - to the point where playing on the E is an almost vertical stroke on the bow....   I am not suggesting this should be a "fixed" position - I'm suggesting that, over time, you will become more "relaxed" with your overall hold, and let it shift (rotate a bit) to ease the reaching of the lower strings when needed - I'm only just starting to get really comfortable with that myself at 3yrs in to playing, so take my comment with a pinch of salt as they say...

(3) Related to the above - on your left arm, I do not observe much of the"arm and elbow shifting in towards the middle of your body" - it seems pretty much static and unchanging....  it will ease fingering (in a similar way to what I mentioned in (2) above, but for different reasons ) - if you swing your elbow "inwards" ( towards you ) for the lower strings and outwards for higher strings, it suddenly feels much mre "fluid" and "not such an exaggerated reach"........   Heyyyyy listen to me what do I konw - when I did that at the start I found that "thinking about it" was the worst thing - just keep the "idea of doing it" in the back of your mind and suddenly, you'll be swinging that elbow ( and, as in (2) ) be adjusting the hold under your chin/neck in "real-time" while you play, unthinking about the notes and fingering....  awesome....

WELL DONE @K_hand - thanks for sharing your progress hats_off

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes. D'oh - guntohead.JPG

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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Demoiselle
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September 20, 2017 - 2:28 pm
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Considering that you play just 8 weeks this sounds very good to me. Looks like there's lots of discipline and musicality involved. I expect you to sound pretty good after a year because you're progressing really fast. Maybe another Violin Noobie, who also got ahead very fast on YouTube?

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Mark
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September 21, 2017 - 6:51 am
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K_hand,

Your doing great, went back and watched an earlier video definite progress keep up the good work.

 

Mark

Master the Frog and you have mastered the bow.

Albert Sammons

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K_hand
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September 22, 2017 - 6:46 am
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Thank you all for the encouraging words and to BillyG for the swivel tips. I recently did a bit of modification to my 60 dollar violin. I moved the chin rest more towards the center, which is more comfortable for me. If anyone sees something that I can improve on or any tips that I can use to work on tone quality, I would appreciate it. Perhaps I'm my own worst critic, but it still doesn't sound like it does in my head. I would rather get blasted for minor imperfections than end up stalling out on progression. Again, thank you again for listening.

The only thing necessary for evil to triumph, is for good men to do nothing...

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BillyG
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September 22, 2017 - 8:38 am
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This might be of interest - no one specific answer here about tone production - but  a lot of comments from various folk describing what they found by changing various aspects of playing ( shoulder rests, chin rests, violin position/rotation, body movement, you name it.. LOL)

http://www.violinist.com/discu.....ive/16101/

We're all different of course, and although there are naturally a lot of "rules" about stance, violin hold, bow hold etc - you'll find that they are more like "guidelines" and not set in stone.   I hear (from others) that some people have given up on a tutor that "insists" on such-and-such a bow hold/violin hold/use of tapes/ and have gone to another - other learners are of course happy with the more prescriptive approach - horses for courses, as they say....

I urge you simply to EXPERIMENT.

For my part, one thing I found relating to good tone production is to practice longggg, slowwww bow-strokes end to end.   This is probably frowned upon as a beginner's strategy where you are often urged to just work with the middle 1/3rd or so of the bow, but, it worked for me.  

It was one of the first things I did - it gives you a real solid feel for, and understanding of, the interface of the bow to the strings and the effects of bow speed, bow tilt (using the edge of the hair, not flat), bow pressure - and the natural increase in bow pressure as it moves nearer the frog.  Try to draw a steady and consistent tone from repeated full bows (open strings), maybe start with 10 seconds each direction, work on it until you have a nice consistent tone...  experiment and observe the difference with the bow tilted (not flat to the strings) and so on - then - gradually increase the length of time for a bow-stroke, 15, 20, 30 seconds - it's quite a challenge as you go slower and you become ultra-aware of the need for super-fine-control / motor-skills of the bowing arm...

Disclaimer: This approach won't work for everyone, won't be the right approach for everyone, and will inevitably be derided by some.   But, if you take a step back from the "music" and think about the physics and mechanics involved - it makes a lot of sense to me....  devil-violin

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Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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Demoiselle
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September 22, 2017 - 9:29 am
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K_hand said
Thank you all for the encouraging words and to BillyG for the swivel tips. I recently did a bit of modification to my 60 dollar violin. I moved the chin rest more towards the center, which is more comfortable for me. If anyone sees something that I can improve on or any tips that I can use to work on tone quality, I would appreciate it. Perhaps I'm my own worst critic, but it still doesn't sound like it does in my head. I would rather get blasted for minor imperfections than end up stalling out on progression. Again, thank you again for listening.  

There are actual chin rests which are designed to be positioned exactly in the middle of the violin. I also started on a violin which cost about 60 dollars in 2015. When I later bought a better violin the seller suggested that middle position chin rest after I had told him I preferred to have my chin as much as possible in the middle. Now I look down the fingerboard like down a street I'm standing in the middle of and I like that.

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Fiddlerman
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September 22, 2017 - 10:25 am
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Those chin rests are also great for balancing the instrument.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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K_hand
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September 22, 2017 - 12:55 pm
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I believe using longer bow strokes would be a definite help. I've noticed a slight shuddering on my down bow when I use the whole bow. I've tried to pinpoint the issue but have yet come up with a solution. I thought it was my grip, then my shoulder, posture, etc... it might be where the mechanical motion of my wrist changes, but I won't rule out anything. Also, I get a bit overzealous on my bow change, and I would guess that may play a part in it too. Slower bowing may indeed help fix that.

The only thing necessary for evil to triumph, is for good men to do nothing...

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BillyG
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September 22, 2017 - 1:22 pm
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I suspect it will - I've noticed that at VERY slow speeds, the muscles in the arm sort of "tremble" - it's like the way the muscle fires is "quantized" and will only "step" in certain amounts, and the movement gets jerky... at faster movements these quantized steps integrate to a more flowing and fluid movement...   well - that's how I see it...  

And I think / believe that practice improves this, and the little muscle-stutters / or in my mind "quantized steps" eventually become smaller and smaller....

To my mind, it is worth working on for a while...  I forget the technical name for these effects in the muscles - it's not exactly the "twitch response" in physiology terms, but something related... and (well, from what I've found) with practice, the effect lessens... 

By the way - I like your signature !

The only thing necessary for evil to triumph, is for good men to do nothing...

Very true !

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes. D'oh - guntohead.JPG

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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K_hand
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September 23, 2017 - 12:19 pm
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And after going back and observing the slow movement you spoke of, I believe that may indeed be the culprit. My forearm almost twitches and it's a very distinct muscle spam like thing. Now to work on it! And I'm also noticing my string crossing is garbage. Lol! Bow arm control is where I'll be setting a lot of focus this week. Thank you again for the advice. 

The only thing necessary for evil to triumph, is for good men to do nothing...

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Charles
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September 23, 2017 - 12:34 pm
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Sorry I'm late to the party. Combination of a busy week at work and a ferocious attack of the lazies.

You're doing extremely well for someone at two months, but since you asked for critiques, rather than praise...

Your upper right arm is moving front and back, just a little. Normally I wouldn't say anything, since it's so small, but you're so close to perfection on it, I'd say it's worth the effort to try and eradicate that last little bit. It will help keep the bow straighter (more on that bit later).

Your wrist is noticeably moving down near the frog (good), but not moving up when you're near the tip. If the bow hair is flat the last two or three inches near the tip, don't worry about that. I have short arms, and by the time my arm is all the way out my wrist has to be cocked way up to still reach. Yours may not. If the bow is moving straight all the way from frog to tip and back, and it's all the way on the edge at the frog and flat at the tip, you're fine.  If it's not doing any of those things, then you'll want to make adjustments.

I find it confusing to use the word "intonation" to mean both hearing the note (and being able to tell if it's on or off) and playing that note, so I've taken to using "intonation" to mean knowing/hearing the note, and "fingering" to mean putting your fingers down in the right place to play it.  Fingering (of necessity) lags behind intonation.

Your fingering overall is excellent for someone at 2 months. There were a couple of bobbles at both C3 and C4 on the scale. The one at C3 sounded like it might have been a problem with not hitting the note cleanly, rather than hitting the note off by a quarter step or so. I'll have a suggestion for that below in the comments on tone.

The fingering in "Over the Rainbow" was overall excellent. Very few bobbles - more what I would expect to hear from someone at 8-9 months, than at 2.  The last piece had quite a few more, which tells me it's a new piece to you.  That's normal.  There are four stages for any human activity, and it is very, very true in violin techniques:

  • Unconscious incompetence - you're not doing it right, and you don't know enough about it to even know that. We only hit this one in that we're not getting the result we want and don't know why. It usually doesn't apply to specific techniques so much.
  • Conscious incompetence - the early stages of learning a technique. You're doing it wrong, and you know it. You're making mistakes, but you recognize them, and are learning from them. This stage usually involves rapid improvement.
  • Conscious competence - you're doing it right, and you know it. The kicker is that you have to be paying attention. This is the really hard one for most people, because they expect to spend just a few hours or at most days here, before moving on to the next stage, and it's actually typically dozens or hundreds of hours of practice (spread over weeks or months of calendar time).
  • Unconscious competence - you've mastered the skill, and can do it right without thinking about it. This is where we all want to be with every skill, and most people don't realize how many thousands of repetitions (repetitions of doing it right) it takes to get here. They also don't realize that every instance of doing it wrong (caused by trying to do it too fast, for instance) can erase two or three instances of doing it right, or even worse, make the unconscious program be to do it wrong every time.

You're at the conscious competence stage with fingering right now (or very late in the conscious incompetence stage on a couple of the fiddly bits).  That means when you're trying to put it together with several other things (like what the notes are in a new piece) a bunch of stuff is going to go to hell.  That's natural and normal, and will happen with all your "new" techniques for as long as you play the violin.  Once you've truly mastered fingering, it won't be a new technique, and that won't be a problem, but unless you quit learning new things, there will always be something that gives you fits when you're pushing the envelope.  Just keep practicing it, and it will smooth out.

 

Tone:

In roughly descending order of importance, here are the things that will affect your tone (I'm going to cover the stuff that applies to open strings only, at first):

1. Use more bow - I understand and believe this one, and my teacher still has to get on me about it from time to time. He says to use a little more bow than you're comfortable with.  The more bow you use for a given note, the better it will sound. The way the bow hair and the string interact is a "stick-slip" motion. The rosin on the bow hair catches the string (or in most cases, the rosin on the string) and pulls it to one side until there's more counter-force than the rosin can withstand. The string then slips, and glides along the rosin on the bow hair, melting it like an ice skate melts the ice. After a few cycles, the string has slowed down enough that it stops melting the rosin, the bow catches it again, and they cycle starts over. That happens several times per second (maybe several dozen? I'm not sure of the timing.)  For whatever reason, a bow moving faster in that situation produces a better tone to the human ear than a slow one.

  A natural human tendency when you're first learning is to want to play softly (who wants to advertise their mistakes?), which means using as little bow as possible. On violin, you'll do much better to make your mistakes quite loudly. They'll be well known, but they'll be much better sounding mistakes. 🙂

2. Play in the "sweet spot" of the string.  The usable area to bow in is from just below the fingerboard to just in front of the bridge.  (Actually, you can play over the fingerboard, but it's not going to sound as good, and it gets rosin dust all over your fingerboard.)  The sweet spot differs from one violin to another, but it's commonly about one bowhair's width away from the fingerboard. Start there and move a little in each direction to find the best spot on your violin.

In general terms, the more towards the scroll/fingerboard, the warmer and richer the sound (but in some people's opinion's, the muddier). The closer to the bridge, the brighter and clearer (and to some, the shriller).  To some degree, the "sweet spot" is not only a function of the violin, but you - find the tone that appeals to you the most.

You'll need to use more force, the closer you play to the bridge, and once you start playing higher up on the fingerboard, you'll also have to play closer to the bridge.

You will sometimes want to play away from the sweet spot (to one side or the other) for special effects.  You only want to do that on purpose, though.

3. Play perpendicular to the string - this is one of the major reasons for wanting your bow to be straight. (The other is that if it's not, your bow will move towards the fingerboard or the bridge.) Remember the stick-slip motion I spoke of earlier? If the bow is straight, it happens on both side of the bow hair fairly close to simultaneously. If the bow is crooked, it's staggered, with the part where the most pressure is giving way first. I don't know enough of the innards of the process to tell you why that doesn't sound as good, but it's observed fact that it doesn't. 

Like most rules of violin playing, this one is occasionally broken on purpose - sometimes you want to move the bow from near the fingerboard to near the bridge or vice versa. Deliberately playing at an angle is a way to do that without breaking the flow of the music.  The effect on the tone is not large, so one or two notes will not be terribly noticeable.

 

Finally, one effect on tone that can be caused by the left hand -

The finger should be pressed down firmly enough that none of the soft part is ahead of where the string is contacting the fingerboard. (That still isn't a lot of force - if you are building up calluses, your action is up pretty high.)  If any of the soft, fleshy part of the finger is ahead of (i.e. closer to the bow) the part pressing the string to the fingerboard, it will muffle the sound.

One way to get a cleaner press of the string it to use the corners of your fingertip. This is a necessity if you have big fingertips (like me) and you're trying to play doublestops, especially if the other string is open. That's the only way you can avoid either deadening it, or creating a harmonic. (You get a harmonic when you bow the string and are just barely touching it with your left hand. Unlike a guitar, you can get a harmonic practically anywhere on a violin.)

You had a couple of issues when playing notes on the G string that were related to this. Bill's suggestion of tilting the violin over (so that the treble side is lower than the bass) and moving your left elbow forward (so that your left hand will swivel around your left thumb and move towards your back) will help that - it gets you closer to be being 90 degrees over the fingerboard, rather than at a shallow angle. That shallow angle makes it very difficult to finger the notes cleanly - I think that's what happened to you on the that C3 (the low one) when you were going up the scale.

One last bit of advice - do NOT try to fix all of these at once, every time you play. You'll go nuts. I mentioned all of these various things so you'd have a reference, not because they all need to be fixed right now.

Pick one or two per session, and work on them.  As much practice as you have obviously been putting in, I think you'll start integrating them pretty quickly (by the calendar - it will probably take 30-40 hours or more of practice to get them all down).

Congratulations on the excellent work you've done so far.

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Charles
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September 23, 2017 - 1:34 pm
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Forgot one point - The bouncing bow?  Tilt the bow to fix that. The bow has considerable tension in the plane from the hair to the body of the bow. That tension results in the bow reacting to the pull-and-release cycle as the rosin on the hair grips the string and then slips.  You want some of that - it's what makes a bow responsive - but too much of it can cause a positive feedback cycle that causes the bow to get bouncy. 

The bow is not nearly as bouncy in other planes, especially the plane 90 degrees to that, so tilting the bow over (like you do near the frog) should eliminate the bounce.

You can't tilt it 90 degrees, of course. Experiment with how much tilt you need to add the make the bounce go away, then practice (on open strings) that as your bow stroke.

My teacher gave me a good exercise for practicing the basic bow stroke. He calls it a "bow stretcher".

Do this on an open string. (Vary which string you use.) Use a metronome. Start out at the fastest speed you can do a full bow stroke - frog to tip as one count of the metronome, and then back.  That's as fast as you can do a good, clean bowstroke, with everything right, and good tone. Slow it down as much as you need to until that's what you're getting. (I had to start out at about 30.)

Then slow down so that you're doing 2 ticks per bow in each direction, then 3, 4, 6, 8, 12, 16, 20, etc. When you start getting scratchy noises, jerkiness and other issues because you're going so slow, you've gone beyond what you currently can do. Speed it back up until you're at one tick per stroke again. Try to do one pass at the slowest speed you CAN do, i.e, if 32 beats is too slow, but you can do 30, then make your slowest pass 30. (The really slow one is pretty similar to what Bill was talking about, by the way.)

Over time, both your fastest and your slowest speed will improve. When you can start at 60 BPM and do 60 beats per stroke (a one-minute bow) you'll be well outside anything you'll ever need to play in real life. (Actually, 30 seconds will probably be more than you'll ever need in real music.)

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RockingLR33
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doing fantastic for just two months. I will agree to what was said about bow strokes because it really helped me out on learning and being able to hear, play and adjust myself with long slow bow strokes.

Also what's really helped me lately, and it might also help you,  is warming up and just practicing scales without focusing on a song to play. When I'm consistently hitting the notes then i'll move onto the music I want to practice.  the more I practice the scales the more the finger patterns become muscle memory and the less I have to think about when I play and I can focus more on the music I'm playing then how I'm playing...if that makes sense... Other then that some great advice above.

Oh and if your wanting to go more for center mounted chinrests you may like the  Berber (a.k.a. Ohrenform)  chin rest.  I've tried a few but this one, for a center mounted rest, seems the most comfortable and the most stable for me at least. My local luthier also really likes them and he's the reason I got turned onto them. Good Job and I can't wait to hear more from you.

Lead me, Follow me, or get out of my way!

             ~General George S. Patton

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K_hand
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September 24, 2017 - 8:39 am
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Thank you Charles for the in depth assessment! I have noticed other violinist tilting the bow as you have described but did not understand how it affected bow bouncing. Excellent tip! I use the notes from these critiques to focus my practice sessions. Again, I appreciate everyone's advice and knowledge! 🎶😁

The only thing necessary for evil to triumph, is for good men to do nothing...

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