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One year of playing: Etude and Minuet 1
Asking for suggestion on my one-year anniversary of playing violinEtu
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Fidelestre
Texas
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March 15, 2016 - 11:04 pm
Member Since: June 21, 2015
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It's hard to say exactly when to set my start date with the violin. I played some >20 years ago - learning fiddle tunes on my own in the days before Youtube and similar aids. But I mostly forgot all of that. Then I started again in September 2014 when my son started Suzuki violin lessons. But I'm counting March 2015 as my real start date because that is when I decided I wanted to learn more than the bare minimum to follow along with my son's lessons.

March 2015 is also when I started to experience worsening symptoms of finger stiffness; I would later get diagnosed with a form of arthritis. During some months of the past year, I would only have a short period of time in the evening when my fingers would be flexible enough to play violin. Fortunately, the stiffness has gone away with medical treatment. But I did waste some time trying to play left-handed violin, which turned out to be far more difficult than I would have guessed.

I started taking lessons in June 2015, and the teacher placed me right back at Twinkle Twinkle, which is exactly where I needed to be. After nine months of lessons, I am embarrassed to say that I am still in Suzuki book 1 and will clearly need some additional time in this book. So I am not exactly setting any speed records for progress, but I am learning and having fun.

My March lesson was last week; I have a lesson once a month. I've been working on Etude since December and on Minuet 1 since January, and my teacher says I need to spend some more time on them before moving on. Here they are:

Etude

 

 

Minuet 1

 

I'd love to get any suggestions for improving the sound. At least part of the problem comes from gripping the bow too tightly, not having a relaxed enough wrist, and moving the shoulder too much. My teacher has suggested the following exercises, which are basically an expanded version the same exercises I've been doing for some months now:

Practice the following in front of a mirror and/or while standing against a wall:

1) A, D, and G scales

2) smooth legato pieces that I can play without thinking about the fingering (for example, Lightly Row or Go Tell Aunt Rhody)

3) staccato-ish pieces that I can play without thinking about the fingering (for example, Song of the Wind or Perpetual Motion)

4) 4th-finger exercises

I have been doing these for a while and will keep doing them, but the problem persists. I would really like to play with better sound. Any suggestions? Thanks!

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Leana
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March 16, 2016 - 11:38 am
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wow !  I enjoyed listening to both of these tunes !  I just realized the beauty of Suzuki V-1 (but I have to learn it by ear).  I am still new, so- I can't offer any technical advice, but while I am learning these tunes myself, I can see the value of V-1 for years to come !

Thank you so much for sharing !  ROCK ON !

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damfino
oHIo, USA
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March 16, 2016 - 11:53 am
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Beautiful job on both! I'm still very new so can't give too much advice. When I want to focus on improving things to do with just my bowing arm and bow hold, I just play on open strings. If I start doing scales then I'm paying attention to my left hand and how it's behaving, the rhythm, the appropriate bowing pattern for it.... and before I know it I forget that I meant to be working on my bow hold or wrist or arm or whathaveyou. When you feel you are making some progress then throw the scales back into the mix. (this doesn't mean I won't still do the other things while I practice, sales, songs etc, just for the time during my practice that I want to work on my bowing, that's what I do). I'm not a teacher, and I am new to all of this, but that's personally what I would do 🙂  

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

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Leana
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March 16, 2016 - 11:54 am
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ya know ?  I wonder if this will help you to learn to feel the sound- I am going to try to upload something…...

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djroger
Milan, Illinois
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March 16, 2016 - 7:46 pm
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I fully understand your pain with the left hand and fingers!  I had all four fingers, two bones in my hand, and my wrist broken 21 years ago, which ended my playing.  That is, until about a month ago, when I got serious about getting back into it.

Fiddlerman suggested to me back in January to try stretching exercises with my fingers and it has done wonders.  Although, it has been a SLOW process, I can now spread out my fingers!  It used to be that my third and fourth were pretty much "stuck" together.  I do this little stretch whenever I think about it and slowly, the flexibility is returning.

Not being able to play like I used to is quite frustrating!

I too have arthritis in my left hand, wrist, and to a lesser extent, also in my right wrist (I'm about to turn 59).  Since I started taking glucosamine and krill in January, it has helped, or at least it seems so.  My fingers no longer ache when the weather changes.  So, maybe it's mental, but it works...........

One of these days, I may get brave enough to post a video here, too!

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Fidelestre
Texas
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March 16, 2016 - 11:45 pm
Member Since: June 21, 2015
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@Leana ,

If you like learning by ear, then Suzuki would be a good fit for you. Traditionally it is taught by ear, at least to start. My teacher says she doesn't usually start young children on reading music until they have learned the first six or seven songs by ear. I already knew how to read music before starting violin, but she still asks me to at least learn the pieces by memory so that I can concentrate more on producing good sound than on worrying what note comes next. There are professional recordings made to accompany the Suzuki books, and students are supposed to learn the tunes by listening to the recordings over and over. I make mix CDs (throwing in fiddle and guitar tunes that we are learning as well) and play them every day in the car.

Thanks also for the Etude recording, Leana. It is very different from the recordings I already have, and very beautiful and expressive. I will enjoy playing along with it - the other recording I usually play along with is very fun, but it does sound like it would be at home in a raucous beer hall! It will be fun to try playing versions with such different moods.

@damfino ,

Thanks for the tip about open strings. I tried it tonight, and I think it helped. It seems as though the wrist works okay up through about Song of the Wind (Fuchs du hast die gans gestohlen) and Go Tell Aunt Rhody, but with anything more complicated, my wrist technique falls apart!

@djroger ,

It's great that you're coming back to violin after such a serious injury; very inspirational for the rest of us! I credit violin with helping me get diagnosed (and treated) sooner - if not for the fact that the stiff left fingers prevented me from playing violin, I probably would have ignored the symptoms for longer and then the arthritis treatment (medicine) might not have been as effective.

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Leana
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March 17, 2016 - 11:29 am
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Fidelestre said
@Leana ,

Thanks also for the Etude recording, Leana. It is very different from the recordings I already have, and very beautiful and expressive. I will enjoy playing along with it - the other recording I usually play along with is very fun, but it does sound like it would be at home in a raucous beer hall! It will be fun to try playing versions with such different moods.

That actually must be a professional recording-  I just recently discovered that it came with my violin- I have all of the songs (if you want more, let me know).  Glad you like it.  🙂  

I also want to say-  I agree with the memorization thing- not that I have actually done it, but I have noticed that the more I actually know the piece I'm playing, the better my posture, and other things are- surely this should lead to better sound eventually !!

saint_patricks_day

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
March 17, 2016 - 11:45 am
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 11717

Congratulations on your one year goal and accomplishments. 🙂

You are moving along very nicely.

I like to focus on one thing at a time and this time I would like to focus on your right arm. Take a look at these videos with attention to your right shoulder. The shoulder should mainly be used to change the height of your elbow and minor adjustments to keep the bow movement straight. Most of the movement should come from your elbow.

Take 5 minutes at the start of your practice sessions either in front of a mirror or starring at your bow vs bridge, drawing long strokes from the frog to the tip. Slow controlled strokes keeping in mind that your right elbow will be moving the bow. Your wrist and fingers will follow the bow like the hair on a paintbrush.
After the 5 minutes of long bowing, do a few minutes of frog to middle, then middle to tip and then a few frog to tip bows one more time. Try to memorize the angles necessary to get a fairly straight bow. No one bows 100% straight and you don't have to.

Thanks for sharing your milestone with us. 🙂

You also get a badge for posting in the critique corner.

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

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Fidelestre
Texas
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March 17, 2016 - 11:34 pm
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 @Fiddlerman ,

Thank you very much for the tips. I will add the long bows and straight bows (at different portions of the bow) to my practice sessions. I also like the idea of the paintbrush visualization for the finger and wrist movement. My teacher suggested a mountain-valley visualization, and it definitely helps, so I'll be interested to try another visualization.

I understand now why some teachers go so slowly through the early material. Twinkle and more Twinkle can get tedious, but it really is so important to get those fundamentals in place from the start. I think I'm still unlearning the things I learned incorrectly from self-teaching.

Aly

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