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My progress
Swinging an axe at vibrato and stuff
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Ferenc Simon
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December 27, 2017 - 9:31 pm
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Today is my 3 month 'anniversary' of playing the violin.. I got my Stagg VSO on the 28th of September 🙂 

Okay... so given that I've posted so many videos anyway.... you may ask.. what's stopping me from uploading an entire practice session? 😛 Well.. that's the thing, Youtube appears to be all stocked up on harddrives.. with no counter being on my internet connection either... so basically nothing! lol 

Jokes aside... Lots of people were wondering how I learned the amount I learned in this amount of time, well this is how... it's not all fun and games, but when a tune sticks in my mind (such was the case of Fiddlerman's Eleanor Rigby cover, which lead me here) I hack at it until I get something that resembles what I imagined 🙂 

Today I was searching for stuff to play, when suddenly it popped in my head that Yiruma's "River flows in you" could sound amazing on a violin... so instead of searching for a sheet as usual, I actually decided I'm going to attempt to completely figure this out by ear. After a short trial and error, I had the fingerings, for the tune stuck in my head (now... I have no idea if that even remotely resembles the original song.. haven't listened to it for a year or so lol, but I wanted to play what I remembered so didn't re-listen on purpose) 

So, here's a 12 minute uncut practice session of me hacking at this song, it's quite repetitive.. so if you just want to hear the section in one go, scroll to 2:56 🙂 It has tons of mistakes, since it's not the 'best version it can be'.. it contains all the good and bad haha. I often stop / restart... one time I even check my pulse on the fitbit (was over 90... darn camera is watching again...), but I suppose learning to play violin goes hand in hand with this process 🙂 Oh.. and sorry for the occasional throat / nasal noises 🙂 (got some kind of stuff going on there) 

Now.. in terms of technical stuff.. I'm still adjusting to this new violin (bridge positions are different than the VSO I made the bridge for) so there are occasional unintended 'chords'. I'm still trying to force that 'thumb under the neck' thing on myself.. so I constantly try to readjust it when it slides back.. (it's somewhat better than before, but not there yet). Tension is often the enemy (mostly because of the camera though), there were several points where I had to stop and remind myself that it's pointless to press down this hard since the string ain't gonna go any lower than the fingerboard (lol) - that also accounts for some serious jerky vibrato here and there. What else... hmm 4th finger vibrato is too 'rare' - (aka. non-existent in the video?) actually did it a few times before starting the camera, but only managed after lifting all the other fingers (but I suppose since I rarely used my 4th finger till now, I shouldn't demand of it to give me everything it has straight up haha). My bow sometimes takes a bad turn at the ends (forget to loosen the wrist, due to tension - usually I'm bowing pretty straight off-camera though, which is good) 

Wait... what am I doing (got carried away, maybe cuz it's past 4 am here...) you guys are supposed to be the ones critiquing my video... not me... but then again, like this post the video is probably too long as well for any busy person to properly go through it (I'm counting on you though, Charles hahaha) 

So feel free to critique away or any tips you might have that could help me improve. And last, but not least, may I add one more thing: Glad to be here with all you people, learning the violin 'together' 🙂 I mean Christmas Project and everything, it was an awesome 3 months! Cheers! and wish you all a happy new year!

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BillyG
Brora, North-east Scotland
December 29, 2017 - 5:07 am
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LOL - not actually laughing at you at all - I think that's great.... good practice session playing by ear (or, better said, what you hear in your head). 

More of us should do that from time to time - it frees us from the sometimes prescriptive nature of sheet ! 

[ Not that I am anti-sheet in any way whatsoever, and we should all make the effort to read , understand  and be able to / try to play from sheet as ultimately it is the definitive reference point, especially when it is a new-to-the player piece ]

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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Charles
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December 29, 2017 - 9:19 am
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Sticking that line in there about me reviewing it was a scurvy trick... 🙂 Sorry this took so long - started on it yesterday (Thursday), but work got busy.

Before I forget, major kudos for putting a video like this up.  This struck me as a perfectly normal practice session when teaching yourself a new song by ear. It had false starts, missed notes, going back to the beginning again and again... all the things that all of us do.

Way too many people only see the end result of somebody's work, and beat up on themselves for not doing as well.  You've proven you're better at this than most of us, so seeing that it doesn't come magically and that you have issues along the way, too, is a very good message to send.

I always watch critique videos once through without the sound, so I won't be distracted by it.

Only thing I really noticed was how much the bow was tilted. Since you said that that's not usually a problem when the camera's off, it's not a big deal. It does mean that that's a skill that's still in the process of being mastered, though.  (Mastered in my lexicon meaning you can put it on autopilot and not have to think about it - it will just work.)

With sound, I noticed a couple of things. Tone is very good, except when the drifting bow gets so far off the sound point that the pressure and speed are no longer appropriate.  If you normally bow straight, it should be good all the time.

Fingering (i.e. hitting the right spot to get the note you want) is good except in the higher stuff. Since that's both differently spaced than 1st position and newer to you, I wouldn't be concerned about it as long as you can hear the glitches. It'll come with practice.

Unless you're still putting a lot of vibrato in everything to practice it, I'd leave it out on the short stuff.  There were many times when you only did one cycle of vibrato, because the note wasn't long enough to allow more.  In my personal opinion, vibrato should be left out on those, and only used where it would naturally show up in voice. (If your opinion differs, play it your way, but I wanted to make the suggestion.)

Last comment - towards the end, you were making mistakes in sections you'd played without a problem several times before. I suspect that's fatigue. You might want to limit sessions like this to 7-10 minutes, then take a 5 minute break before doing more. Also, do you usually stand up to practice?  If not, that might be where part of the fatigue came from.

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damfino
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December 29, 2017 - 6:38 pm
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Doing good, Ferenc 🙂 One thing I noticed, and it might be due to the camera watching you, is you are bowing with your shoulder. That will contribute to your bow going crooked. 

Keep up the good work 😀

☆•*¨*•¸¸¸.•*¨*•☆•*¨*•¸¸¸.•*¨*•☆•*¨*•.¸¸¸.•*¨*•☆
On a journey to learn the fiddle since July 24, 2015
☆•*¨*•.¸¸¸.•*¨* •☆•*¨*¨*•¸¸¸.•*¨*•☆

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Ferenc Simon
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December 29, 2017 - 7:59 pm
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damfino said
Doing good, Ferenc 🙂 One thing I noticed, and it might be due to the camera watching you, is you are bowing with your shoulder. That will contribute to your bow going crooked. 

Keep up the good work 😀  

No I'm not 🙂 But that's always a nice thing to watch out for, so I appreciate the tip 😛 

Thanks!

(lol, sorry if I sound dismissive of your critique, it's not the case.. I actually wrote a 2 page response, which I just deleted, since I assumed it would be too boring to read... Short version: the video actually fooled me as well so after reading your comment I went on a half an hour experiment. It's most likely the weird camera angle and the angle at which I hold the violin - I'm not even remotely sideways to the camera, my head is simply turned and my shoulder only goes in the proper range since I use the full bow, but thanks nonetheless 🙂 You got me to finally try that bow corrector I bought a few weeks ago lol) 

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AndrewH
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December 30, 2017 - 3:41 am
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I actually still see a little more upper arm motion than is necessary. Also, work on loosening the wrists and fingers more at the beginning and end of each bow. Even at the very beginning and end of each bow, you should still be leading with the wrist; the bow will rotate, but that's OK! At the beginning of a down bow, as you pull your wrist downward, your fingers should naturally rotate upward; the stick will come toward you so that the hair is flat against the string on down bows. At the beginning of an up bow, you should be pulling your wrist upward and letting your fingers drop; the stick will be leaning away from you a little during the up bow.

 

As a matter of fact, I'm seeing some of your bow doing the exact opposite: I notice that the stick often leans away from you on down bows and the hair is flat against the string on up bows. That suggests you're doing a lot of pushing rather than pulling, if that makes sense. It's a mistake I made for the first 16 years I played, before getting it corrected when I took lessons.

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Ferenc Simon
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December 30, 2017 - 5:51 am
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Andrew, the only part of my bowing that is actually an issue imo, is the wrist locking up on up-bows due to anxiety... sometimes when I look at the camera (I see myself on the screen) I consciously fix that and the wrist motion becomes fluid.. right until I get distracted again.. 

Regarding upper arm movement.. like I said I'm holding the violin out to the left by a lot (it's almost parallel to my body.. so maybe that's something else to look into)... so the actual shoulder compensation needed for playing near the frog is pretty huge, but it never goes behind me, when the tip goes away from me on the down bow.. that's all from the wrist as well. If I would turn sideways so you could really see how much my shoulder is moving past the point where it shouldn't... my violin would be pointing backwards. Like I said I tried this with the same angle.. using a bow corrector (plastic thing that grips on the violin and doesn't allow even for the slightest crooked bow) and the shoulder movement is exactly the same so I'm not concerned at all about shoulder movements.. but maybe I should look into the angle I hold the violin at.. or simply next time at least re-position the camera 🙂

As for the other pointer on tilting the bow near the frog and flattening the hair near the tip to include wrist rotations, I am deliberately avoiding that. I know that's the 'orchestral' way of learning to bow, but I don't want to make that automatic as I would rather like to learn to tilt the bow wherever and whenever I want while still getting a decent full bow (that means developing wrist flexibility instead of relying on rotations and using the pinky to lift more smoothly), I am curios though if you think that's a skill worth learning. I saw you post that many times before and always thought of it as something that does work, but could limit you in the future, could be wrong though.

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AndrewH
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December 30, 2017 - 7:44 am
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I'm not making this suggestion because it's "proper" -- I'm making it because I'm trying to keep you from making the mistake I made for over 16 years! I only learned that bit of bowing technique in April 2016, and it still isn't always automatic for me as of now. Remember, I didn't necessarily learn good technique at first, and I certainly didn't learn anything because it was "standard" technique, because I was self taught for the first 16+ years.

The reason I think it's so important is that changing my bowing technique cured my chronic back pain. The idea is to minimize shoulder and upper arm tension. If you're "pushing" the bow, it forces you to raise your shoulder and upper arm more, and push the bow downward into the string. That extra tension doesn't necessarily affect your sound that much if you're still able to control your bow pressure, but it leads to injuries when you start playing too much. And it's a lot of wasted effort because you could be taking advantage of gravity instead.

Yes you can always tilt your bow back toward you to get full contact with the string on up bows, but that should not be the default. You can still do that by rotating your forearm and still leading with the wrist -- note that you should only be doing it for emphasis, not every single note, and that the wrist should lead no matter what.

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Ferenc Simon
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December 30, 2017 - 7:54 am
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Oh I see, thanks for clearing that up, appreciate it! 😉 Will stop trying to avoid it then. Originally I played with the bow always tilted forward... so then I realized I always play like that, which made me switch to using the full hair... After I started using more wrist the rotating movement kind of came naturally so I was sort of fighting it and bending it instead to keep the hair flat throughout the whole thing and still use my wrist.

Thanks!

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Bob
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December 30, 2017 - 9:51 am
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@AndrewH I also appreciate you sharing your experience with bowing issues. As  you know I'm struggling with my bow technique and need as much help as possible 🙂 Your clear explanation above is very useful. Thank you.

@Ferenc Simon your progress is amazing. I did like watching your practice session. It shows that we all go though the same problems while trying to learn to play 🙂

Bob

Bob in Lone Oak, Texas

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Ferenc Simon
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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
January 18, 2018 - 3:49 pm
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Sounding good Ferenc. My suggestion is that you listen to your recording with a pencil and make arrows up or down when you hear that a note is off and play it again trying to improve your intonation. Intonation is everyones issue and we should all work on it a bit every single day.

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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Ferenc Simon
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January 21, 2018 - 6:12 pm
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Allright 🙂 

This is the song I'm currently working on... Started learning it last night and it's going pretty well.. so this is the 'demo version' 🙂 I plan on working on it for a while and trying to add all sorts of decorations.

I actually requested this from Fiddlerman as a tune a week piece some time ago, but seeing as he is really busy lately and there are lots of other requests, I decided to give it a swing myself 🙂 

I tried not to get too stressed by the camera this time, I do have some tension in my fingers (pressing way too hard), but that has to do more with the audio problems I was facing in the past hour slightly 'elevating' my bloodpressure (lol).

On the other hand.. I did manage to get a pinched nerve in my neck / shoulder yesterday so I'm just barely starting to be able to turn my head to the right, which makes playing a 'pain'.. so I dropped some of the decoration I was originally doing on it today and rather focused on being able to record it from start to finish.

Anyway, this was one of those songs that I really wanted to hear on my violin so (hence the long intro text) I'm pretty enthusiastic about finally getting around to give it a shot 🙂 Hope you like it

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Bella86
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January 23, 2018 - 4:18 pm
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This song just always make me think of a gorilla (George of the Jungle LOL) Was the first time I ever heard that song. That's pretty well done considering that you're in pain. 😛 And I think you did a good job ignoring the camera, I don't think you looked at it even once? 
Did you do anything in particular to mess up your neck? Are you sure it's a pinched nerve? That usually means a dysfunctional joint in the neck. Which is somethign I am currently suffering from, but it doesn't cause such pain that i can't turn my head, it just makes my shoulders and neck tense up like mad some days. What you describe sound like something a lot of people suffer from after sleeping weird on their neck, and it's usually the trapz that is stuck in a spasm. (which can also trap nerves) Try stretching your right trapz and see if that helps. 

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Ferenc Simon
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January 23, 2018 - 4:55 pm
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I'm sure it's a nerve 🙂 Had these on many occasions in the past when doing sports.. However this time the silly thing about it is that it wasn't due to sports... but simply taking a long hot shower after not sleeping nearly enough.. and playing violin afterwards lol... Your spine gets compressed throughout the day the more you stand.. so sleeping or at least laying down is important for that too, not just because you're tired 🙂 After that the hot water kind of loosened up everything there and as I tilted my neck to put the violin under my head it got pinched. That's like the perfect recipe for it lol :)))) 

Anyway it was simply due to temporary excess pressure on the nerve so it's not constant and it's getting better already 🙂 almost fully gone. Fun thing though :)) after this happened.. the next morning my hand on that side was sort of numb so I tried lifting it just a tiny bit and almost slapped myself in the face as it got some awkward signals :))) That's pretty much another clear sign that it was a compressed nerve.. 

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coolpinkone
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I am so far behind... I really spent a long time with this thread watching the videos.. from day nine to Eleanor, Over the Rainbow, the new violin, practice for the project, Happy New Year (beautiful song) and My Way (wow) 

Congrats on all your progress and the new violin.   Great playing your are doing so well.

So very truly impressive.   I wish my journey had been as swift and awesome as yours.  🙂  Awesome.

I can't always listen at work.  Today is Saturday and I have my Ipad and I can enjoy all the treasures.

You seriously rock!!

Cheers

Toni

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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Ferenc Simon
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January 27, 2018 - 3:18 pm
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Thank you very much Toni!

Some of those recordings are really horrible :)) but it's fun to re-watch them.. Recently my hard disk which has the folder where my recordings end up was getting full.. so I had to re-watch quite a few of them to delete the duplicates (when I did multiple takes).. I left one video of each occasion alone.. in case I ever want to do a montage of them 😀 

Aside from that, I still do lots and lots of mistakes even when it comes to basic stuff.. and sometimes I feel like I'm progressing backwards if you know what I mean... 🙂 But this community is helping to make every step of it interesting so with this instrument I'm really trying! 

Thanks again for the kind words!

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ritaspeaks
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I am happy to know that you are getting better as days pass by. 

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Fiddlerman
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January 31, 2018 - 2:11 pm
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Sorry for being so behind in my "Tune a Week" videos Ferenc.

Great job. Keep it up!!! cheers Cheers!!!

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

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