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How long on open strings?
How long did you spend as a beginner playing open strings?
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (3 votes) 
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JackOrion
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September 13, 2014 - 1:41 pm
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I am an adult beginner and I have had my violin for 10 days now.  I am practising for about two hours per day, and enjoying it. It seems to me that I should not think about playing any stopped notes until I feel confident that I have a good bow hold, am bowing straight, that I am playing consistently cleanly, without hitting unwanted strings, and that I am making a reasonably pleasant sound it a variety of tempi and using different amounts of bow. I feel that I am making good progress, but I also feel that at the present rate of progess it will be at least another week or two before I should move on to stopping notes.  I know that everyone is different, but I was wondering whether my experience is typical?

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RosinedUp
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September 13, 2014 - 2:00 pm
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I think it's smart to take things for the most part one at a time, as you are doing.  I think most people go into fingering notes almost right away though. 

If you do some fingering soon though, it tells you whether you have a good hold on the violin.  You have to be able to reach all four strings with all four fingers, and that is the second most important determinant of your hold.  The most important is avoiding injuries to the neck, shoulder, back, and other parts.  You have to adjust your posture, chin rest, and shoulder rest so that you have a good hold.

If you have to change your hold, that will affect your bowing, so I think it makes sense to do some fingering soon, even if your main work is open bowing.

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JackOrion
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September 13, 2014 - 2:16 pm
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Thank you - and your comment is actually very pertinent to the next issue I have.  I feel that my hold is about 90% right, but the chin rest supplied with the violin does not quite suit me. I can get into a good positon and play, and have no difficulty on the open strings, but it is just a little too uncomfortable / insecure to to the "right hand on left shoulder" exercise and that will be a problem when I need to relax to learn fingering. I am not certain why that is the case yet - sometimes I think the chin rest is a little too low, sometimes I think I shoud try a shoulder rest - though those do not really appeal to me.  Working alone and with no prior experience, it is hard to tell. I am thinking of investing in the Wittner variable height chin rest, but they are not cheap and I did promise myself that I would not spend any more than absolutely necessary until I was confident that I would keep up my study of the instrument.

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Tucson1
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September 14, 2014 - 4:25 am
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Howdy Jack .

Welcome to FM ....might take a look at the beginners tutorials here , view a few videos and i'm sure you'll get off to a good start with many questions answered there ...

Start up tunes are easy enough and the more ya play the better ya get ...just don't get in a rut by over thinking every little thing or being too critical of yerself bunny-headbang...play a simple tune and then play , play and play some more ..

Have fun    Be happyviolin-1267

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JackOrion
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September 14, 2014 - 5:07 am
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Thanks :) Yes - overthinking is a definite issue with me.  I will get this hold issue sorted out over the next couple of days I hope, then maybe move on to some scales at the end of next week.

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RosinedUp
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September 14, 2014 - 7:41 am
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JackOrion said
I will get this hold issue sorted out over the next couple of days I hope,

Settling on rests and a violin hold may not, I think, be as easy as that.  Yes, it's great to solve it ASAP, but you should be prepared to approach a solution as you learn other things.  Actually I think an expert with a lot of experience with that problem could help you a lot.  Same goes for time spent in a big violin shop trying a lot of rests.

Here's an excerpt from Galamian's Principles of Violin Playing and Teaching, p.13:

"The principle that correctly applies to this whole matter 
designates the fingers as the determining factor. They have to 
be placed in such a way as to allow them the most favorable 
conditions for their various actions. Once this is done, every- 
thing else — thumb, hand, arm — will subsequently find its corre- 
sponding natural position. "

The book is free at http://archive.org/details/principlesofviol00gala
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DanielB
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September 14, 2014 - 1:35 pm
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I do open string bowing as part of my daily practice routine, but I didn't start with it as you have, JackOrion.  I had been playing for several months before a more experienced player got me to try it for a week or two as a means of learning to get a better sound.

I still do it every practice, because I feel I still get benefits from it.  I think it helps for getting limbered up and warming up the joints in the finger and wrist.  Like any athlete warms up before doing their sport, I think it helps with the physical aspects of playing and avoiding some injuries, perhaps.

I also think it gets the ear tuned up for the session, and that being able to focus on getting good tone and volume for a bit before playing does help one to play better.

I don't think I would have had the patience to do *only* open string bowing for as long as you have when I was starting.  But your learning is your project, and you take your best shot when trying to figure out the best way of going about it.  So long as you are enjoying your practice and learning, I would say move into the other things like scales and etc only as you personally feel comfortable doing so. 

I very much doubt that another week or two of focusing on just the open string bowing can hurt you in any way.  It may even have benefits that will let you kick the rest of our butts in the long run.  Who knows?   If it does, I will certainly be one of the ones applauding for you.

It does make some sense, I think.  The bow is the hardest part of playing for most people, learning to control it and actually use it well.   The left hand fingering, I found relatively simple, comparatively.

You may be on to something that most of the rest of us rushed over.  Time will tell.

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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JackOrion
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September 14, 2014 - 2:22 pm
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RosinedUp  Thanks - I have been reading the Galamian. It is pleasingly undogmatic. I know that every field of human interest tends to give rise to dogmatism and Holy Wars amongst its enthusiasts, but the opinions expressed on some violin websites / tutorials are amongst the most extreme I have seen. Some seem to believe that the wrong angle of the eyebrow will give rise to irreparable injury.  I do have a good violin luthier nearby, but he carries a very small stock of rather expensive accessories. I do not doubt his expertise for one moment, but nor am I likely to be buying from him in the immediate future.  The larger general musical retailers do not seem to have much expertise, but I will persevere.  I am thinking of getting an inexpensive (but well reviewed) shoulder rest just to experiment.

DanielB Thanks also for the encouragement. I may be over-correcting for a natural tendency to rush things that has not always served me well in the past. It is pleasing to hear my efforts becoming a little more musical (at least to my ear), day by day and to find that I am bowing reasonably straight when also reading the music.  I am in no hurry.

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coolpinkone
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September 14, 2014 - 2:40 pm
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  Hello there.. I too applaud you for being okay with perfecting the open strings.  I wish I had been controlled enough for that.  :) Good luck.

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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Tucson1
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September 14, 2014 - 5:31 pm
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Hey Jack ,

Sounds like yer headed in the right direction ....i can't resist letting those open strings ring out their sounds myself ...yer bowing arm rules the day in the end and yer fingers will find their places accordingly ...keep up the good attitude and work ..violin-1267Have fun   Be happy

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PopFiddle
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September 15, 2014 - 2:49 pm
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Getting strong in the hands is a good part of those first couple of months playing and so is learning to stretch the hands a bit.

As soon as I picked up the violin, I was experimenting with positions up the neck.  But I'd already had similar experiences with the guitar.  The guitar also has open string and closed string fingerings, so I was anxious to see what that was like on the violin.

I found it was good exercise just to fool around trying out fingering up the neck.  Don't even try to hit exact notes at first, just get a feel for what it's like to produce sound way up on the strings.  

You should also start thinking about what the "positions" are, there is some discussion here:

http://fiddlerman.com/forum/le.....sitions/ 

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JackOrion
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September 21, 2014 - 5:14 pm
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I thought I would just update this by way of feedback for all who kindly contributed.

So, at the beginning of last week I bought an inexpensive shoulder rest (Hidersine Oxbury), and paired it with an equally inexpensive strad pattern chin rest - the latter because I have felt all along that the chin rest fitted to the violin as supplied was too flat and too far to the left to suit me.  I am very pleased indeed with the result. I am feeling comfortable and secure.

I have moved on to playing notes on the fingerboard, starting with the first octave of the G major scale. I think I am doing ok with that. I have followed Fiddlerman's advice by not using tapes, and I feel that is going well too. Actually, even though I spent so long on the open strings, I find bowing cleanly whilst thinking about my left hand harder than listening to my intonation.

I know there is a lot of software out there to help with tuning / playing, but I will just mention that I am contentedly using the Free Musical Instrument Tuner (which runs natively under Linux (I am a long time Linux person), but can run on Windows using Cygwin. It is not just a tuner, but can be used in various ways to check the accuracy of one's playing:

http://home.gna.org/fmit/

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rockinglr33
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September 21, 2014 - 9:23 pm
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I know i'm a wee bit late to this thread, but i know when i started out i would focus a little on open strings, and then i began to work on the stopped notes. I focused on the notes of the g string, and really working on intonation of each note, then moving on to d, a and e. It really has helped. and i always warm up running though them, nice and slow focusing on each note and that it is correct, before speeding them up and then working on what ever piece i'm practicing for the day. I still consider myself a newbie to violin, but i thought i'd add my 2 cents :D  

 

Also, if your not sure about your hand position or want some feedback, throw up a video in the critique thread! I did that when i was first learning the notes on the G string and it REALLY helped me a lot. Everyone here is super supportive and gives good critiques. Happy playing!! 

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

             ~General George S. Patton

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