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Bowing hand/general playing critique please!
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SilverHalide
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April 11, 2016 - 1:26 pm
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I've started playing with a metronome and now my playing feels like it has went downhill slightly.

 

I've been practicing Wohlfhart's Op.45 first etude and it all gets a bit wobbly in the last couple of lines so any feedback would be much appreciated. 🙂 Thankies.

 

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BillyG
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April 11, 2016 - 3:36 pm
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Hmmm...  probably not a lot of help - but I do find a similar issue.   I don't use a physical metronome as such - if I feel I need something, I used put together a drum-click track in MuseScore.   BUT - when I did that what I found was that I would sort of "force myself to start-on-each-click" ( like a bow direction change, for instance ) - and it started to sound really "forced" - I could rarely "get into the rhythm" - and what used to sound reasonable-but-not-quite-correct was now just total rubbish !!!

But - if I create an actual instrumented "play-along" track - piano, even violin, where the sound has an attack and decay - suddenly it becomes a lot easier....   It is as if with a simple "click only" what I should REALLY do is almost anticipate the next click, and already have the bow starting to move, rather than actually waiting to hear it if you follow me ?    But like I say - I only do that anyway when I just can't get close to the timing and REALLY need to do something to get me on-track with the timing....   just my own observation / experience...

In fact, the same occurs (like it is OK), if I do a play-along to an existing performance - it flows easily...  hard to explain, let alone describe....   

Interesting post - let's have other folks' thoughts...

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes.  

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

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Rob C
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April 11, 2016 - 8:42 pm
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Hi! I know when I started practicing with the dreaded metronome it was a lot to concentrate on. I can't really tell if you are using too much shoulder. I was kind of using more shoulder than elbow and it caused a windshield wiper effect my teacher likes to call it. when I was using my elbow the bow is straight and makes less undesireable sounds :).

 

Rob

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damfino
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April 12, 2016 - 8:52 am
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As weird as it sounds, for me I have a hard time getting a feel for the beat when playing with a metronome. I just hear it as an annoying click, not a beat to follow. I wish I had a metronome that just sounded like a guitar playing with me, or a drum, lol. 

I haven't gotten a chance to listen to your video (at work right now, and at home my laptop is dead and my ipad doesn't like the forum, lol) but I have watched it without the sound to watch the motion of your arm, hand and wrist. It does look to me like you are using more shoulder in your bowing motion than elbow, and as Rob said that will effect the sound you are getting. 

~ I'm not torturing cats... I'm learning to play violin! ~

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BillyG
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April 12, 2016 - 11:26 am
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Hmmm... I hadn't noticed that - but maybe, just maybe, the shoulder movement is the "oh - I am waiting for the next click" thing ?   Trying to force the notes between the clicks into the allowed time-slot - easy to go too fast - and you're "poised, ready, and waiting" so to speak for the next click ?   Dunno...  really - just off the cuff thoughts.

As I say I rarely use a metronome/plain-click track, but I will do play-alongs to either pre-recorded pieces or to an instrumented MuseScore track - which I find much more easy to work with compared to a plain click - but even then at times I do tend to find I often slightly "run-ahead" - and - that ( what @damfino said ) kind of relates to me - I've already PLAYED the last note (probably shortened it in sheer anticipation) and in that few tenths of seconds - everything stops - bow arm (almost) stops and I'm at the point of "lifting off" - real difficult to describe.   I guess it is well different if you come into playing using the metronome / click-track...  I really don't know, but I know there are "issues" that disturb "normal" playing.

One of the things I have observed over time on my own journey is that, the more I get the tune in my head and playing becomes automatic (without needing either sheet or even to actually THINK about it - and when does that occur - well - certainly more than several hundred play-throughs for me - never actually counted but it must be in the order of 3, 4, 500 plays ???) - then - YES - fingering becomes wholly automatic and then I can fit my timing into whatever backing track I'm using- maybe these two things are linked somehow in the brain...  dunno... it is real strange though...

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes.  

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

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djroger
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April 12, 2016 - 7:06 pm
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What I see is lack of wrist motion and a little shoulder movement.  BUT............

I'm FAR from an expert,, but since I'm dealing with several fused bones in my right wrist, limiting my flexibility, I've developed the bad habit of moving my shoulder to try and compensate!  It's a tough habit to break, too when trying to overcome wrist flexibility.  I'm only a few months back into playing after 20+ years away from it and am having a tough time with it.  But, I am determined to continue!  The suggestion of playing while standing with your back against the wall will make you well aware of any shoulder movement.

I don't like metronomes either, and usually practice with a backing track.  I still had several of them from years ago and converted them from cassette to MP3.

If you happen to know a drummer, they can make you a backing track recording at different BPM that will work no matter what key the music is in.  Handy for me since I prefer "fiddle" to classical.  If a tune is supposed to be played at 140 BPM, I can play along at 60 BPM and work my way up.  No, I haven't hit the 140 BPM yet!

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Uzi
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April 13, 2016 - 11:33 am
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FWIW, I agree about the shoulder movement.  The upper arm only needs to move somewhere in the lower third of the bow at the point where the forearm can close no further.  Also, your pinky is straight throughout your stroke.  It should have more bend in it.  Each of the fingers has a job to perform.  The little finger's job is to press down on the bow tip to remove pressure of the bow on the string when necessary.  It can't do that if it's already fully extended. 

Opus 45 is an excellent piece to practice and can sound quite nice when played as a song.  Good idea practicing with a metronome, that's going to pay off big time later on down the road.  Keep it up, you're sounding good. 

A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort. ~Herm Albright

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Uzi
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April 13, 2016 - 11:37 am
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djroger said

If you happen to know a drummer, they can make you a backing track recording at different BPM that will work no matter what key the music is in.  

Q: How do you know when a drummer is at the door?

A: The knock speeds up

 

Q: Why are drummers in bands?

A: They like to hang around with musicians. 

A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort. ~Herm Albright

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djroger
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April 13, 2016 - 7:35 pm
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I'm going to use that second one on my drummer friend!  rofl

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KindaScratchy
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April 16, 2016 - 7:39 pm
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Along the same lines as what others have said, I think your wrist looks a bit stiff and you're bowing more from your elbow and shoulder. Maybe you tensed up because you were playing with the metronome.

I used to hate playing with a metronome and avoided it at all costs, then I started playing with backing tracks, which is much better than a metronome. It takes a while to get used to playing with backing tracks. At first I tensed up and couldn't keep up, trying to play note for note. Eventually I learned to relax and if I get lost, I just skip a few notes then jump back in. And now that I'm more comfortable with backing tracks, I find playing with a metronome a bit easier.

That said, I have a slightly harder time playing fiddle with backing tracks and a metronome, than I do mandolin or guitar. I think it has something to do with the bowing patterns versus up-and-down picking.

When the work's all done and the sun's settin' low,

I pull out my fiddle and I rosin up the bow.

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mickmeloche
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April 17, 2016 - 1:44 pm
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I think I'd stop the metronome and just try to play it pretty. I'm working on Wolfharts no. 2 and when I get to some of the parts I slow down, add lots of vibrato, and just make it sound pretty.  Now it's getting up to speed, but I still make the slow part, sound "pretty".  I'm trying to learn not to overthink, and just play, and now the basics, like bow control, and vibrato, seem natural.  The key for me was bowing in the mirror and making sire it was straight and relaxing my bow arm and just letting it flow like a wave. You seem to have a good handle on this tune. It's just a matter of practice now.

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SilverHalide
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April 19, 2016 - 11:47 am
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Thank you all for such detailed responses!

 

I think the metronome might be a bit too much to focus on right now, so I may leave it for a couple of weeks. 

I also have realised my bow hold I'd all wrong and I'm not doing the 'bunny' shape, which may partially explain the lack of elbow and wrist movement. 

So more practice on the basics overall I think! Cheers everyone. cheerleader

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SilverHalide
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June 8, 2016 - 9:42 am
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Took people's advice about my wrist being stiff and have been doing excersises to loosen it up and make a concious effort to move it. My bowing does feel more fluid now (and straighter!) and I have noticed a slight improvment of sound.

 

So here is a video from today, moved onto No.3 a couple of days ago cos the first one is driving me (and my neighbors)

 

mad from the amount of times I've played it. 🙂 Any more critique would be welcome. 😀

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Uzi
Georgia
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June 9, 2016 - 12:04 am
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I can't play the video.  I'm on a mac, so it may just be me. 

A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort. ~Herm Albright

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SilverHalide
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June 11, 2016 - 6:25 am
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It's not working for me now either. Must be the file type, will get it sorted next week. 🙂

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BillyG
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June 12, 2016 - 2:02 am
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It works here @SilverHalide - ***BUT***   it takes ages to start, and ages to play through - in little bursts of about 1 second (or less).....    That is partly MY problem with very poor broadband (512K) - the file is a .mov format as you can tell, and it is an uncompressed format - the file size is shown as 332 Mbyte - now - (for me) THAT size of file take a full hour to play - for what - oh about 1 minute video.   I CAN watch files like that (by starting a download, walking away for an hour, then coming back an play it locally from the downloaded copy).  

There are however a HUGE number of video formats, with a huge number of video resolutions which can help overcome this....

A lot of folks prefer not to place their stuff on You Tube because they feel is is too "publically accessible" - but then again - so is this forum - although - agreed - a much smaller set of folks would stumble upon it.....  Now, YouTube is quite good - because you can (if you want) upload a huge .mp4 file - but - when viewers play it - it is played back in a lower resolution ( video that is, I believe the audio is much less affected)

Posting a compressed .mp4 format file here, doesn't necessarily make the file all that much smaller.   Notice above that I mentioned YouTube - a "usable" modest resolution format is .flv ( flash video format ) - I have exactly the same problem uploading (like one of the group projects ran to 4 minutes - that was in excess of a 1GByte mp4 file - took over 12 hours to upload (my upload speed is 120KB, and my download is 390KB - i.e. that's the overall 512K speed I get )

Here's a video I did recently, I saved it in two formats (exactly the same video project) - I won't post the video - but here's the file sizes - quite interesting................  because - lets say - if you uploaded the .mp4 to you tube - when it is played back to a viewer, I *believe* is is fired back at you in the lower resolution .flv (or more precisely, the Adobe Dynamic Streaming for Flash) format  !   Clever....  Interestingly, there are ways you can request to download (not just playback) YT videos, and you can request different video resolutions and formats for the file that comes in.... but that's another story)

filesizes.JPGImage Enlarger

As I say - the video content in both these files runs for about 4 minutes, and uploading the .flv to YT is "good enough" to watch and listen to ( on YouTube that is - you can't upload .flv files to this forum )

fee.JPG

This was all on a Windows environment - not sure about Mac as @Uzi said, but I had thought .mov format was handled on the Mac - but I could be wrong Uzi....

I only witter on about this because it is a REAL issue for folks with stupidly slow bandwidth on their broadband, and from time to time folks do submit very large video files like your one - which usually leads me - and probably others with similar poor broadband - to simply not bother watching.   ( LMAO and no, I'm not being "cheap" - 512K is the best we get, and no, our one and only cellular service coverage is only 2G - its bandwidth is worse - 100K )    Hahahahaha !   One day, eventually one day, we'll get the long-promised "rural broadband roll-out"

Hahaha - I wrote all this, took the image captures, went off made a cuppa, read a few emails - and about 30 minutes later, your video has now reached about 30 seconds into the performance!   But, it IS there (on Windows PC) ! LOL

***EDIT***   I went back to the first post on your thread - you posted on VIMEO there - that's fine - if you're used to using that, then that's probably the answer.  It will be doing much the same as YT - it will accept a high-resolution upload, and play back to viewers in a format designed for streaming-over-internet.....

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I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes.  

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

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RonB
Jeffersonville, VT
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June 12, 2016 - 9:32 am
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Thanks @BillyG. I hadn't noticed the file size and was baffled by the starting and stopping. I have a good broadband speed and downloaded the file from the link, and it played perfectly then.

To get to @SilverHalide question about bowing...

After watching the first video and the second, I'd say that things were going good. The camera didn't catch everything in the first video, but in the second video the bow was straight and perpendicular to the strings. The upper arm was steady and the wrist was flexing. The grip looks good and the sound was better. 

There's always something of course...

I think the fingers in the grip could be a little more curved. I couldn't tell if the grip was tight or relaxed, but it seemed tight. I think forcing yourself to make longer (even if only slightly longer) bow strokes would develop even more flexibility in the wrist and fingers. It might help with relaxation too.

I think the two videos show a lot of improvement and that you're definitely on the right track. Thanks for the videos.

 

Unimportant Side Note on Tech:

.mov files are indeed an Apple format. Twenty years ago Apple computers could handle every format out there regardless of the source. When I first started exploring  Fiddlerman.com, I came across the Drones for Intonation Practice under the Learning Tools menu. They are .mov files; I'm running Safari on a Mac OS, so no problem, right? I couldn't even download the files in the usual manner much less play them in place. I thought the issue was with the HTML. (It was to some extent, but separate story.)

Anyway, after some effort I managed to get them onto my machine. I still couldn't play them. The message was that I needed an older version of Quicktime. (I did eventually convert them to .mp3 files using Audacity.) 

It seems that Macs are no longer compatible with older versions of themselves anymore. If Steve Jobs were still around, ... whatever.

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SilverHalide
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June 13, 2016 - 9:15 am
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Here it is on Vimeo. I didnt bother with putting it through iMovie last time cos it crashes constantly now and I'm so annoyed at wasting money buying it in the first place, so the last video was essentially 'raw', straight from camera. Hopefully it will work for you, @Uzi and @BillyG (well done you for having the patience to try and load it!) That's the one thing that puts me off living in the Highlands, along with the harsh winters of course. hehe.

Cheers @RonB, I will practice longer bowings and actaully playing to the tip, I think I carry a lot of tension in my back/arms anyways and camera shyness only adds to that. I think it's also the mental side to it, feeling like you should be playing well since people will be watching. 🙂

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Fiddlerman
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June 15, 2016 - 4:48 pm
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Good job. That entitles you to a Critique Video badge too. Yeeeee Haaaaa!!!
Both videos worked for me in any case.
Youtube videos work perfectly here and take less space on the server 🙂
They can be unlisted to avoid outsiders finding your video.

Thanks for the post.

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

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SilverHalide
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June 16, 2016 - 9:24 am
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Woo Hoo! cheerleader (dont know if smileys are working lol)

 

I'll be sure to use Vimeo from now on 🙂

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