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Making music out of notes
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kylesito
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September 3, 2014 - 1:20 pm
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I've gotten to the point where I can play most every 1st position note without consulting a fingering chart.  The problem is that I can't make them sound musical!  When I learned sax as a kid, I remember vaguely having the same problem but I was quite young and don't really remember how I got through it.

My thought is that I need to work on my phrasing, connecting notes, and playing with passion rather than just spitting out notes.  I imagine some of this is practice but I also wonder if there are some good resources that the teachers out there can recommend that can help guide me in the right direction.

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coolpinkone
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September 3, 2014 - 2:32 pm
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Congratulations!  Yes, the next step is to connect and make music.  I don't have any resources in mind.  To me the best resource would be simple songs, and scales.  A simple song that you know... so you can play with the music in your mind.   I have hear Fiddlerman give people advice at times to close their eyes and hear it as you would sing it.

I missed the scale part in my early training and have regretted that.  There are some lovely tunes that play on one string.  Ode to Joy.   

Congratulations on  reading all the first position notes!!! Happy Playing. 

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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RosinedUp
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September 3, 2014 - 5:15 pm
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Are you playing by ear or from written music?

Start with simple tunes you are familiar with---ones that you can already sing or whistle or hum from memory.  Then make the violin imitate the sounds that you hear in your head.

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Uzi
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September 3, 2014 - 5:56 pm
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I agree with RU. Notes on a sheet of paper don't tell the whole story of a song.  Listen to other people play whatever song you're looking at and see how they interpret the music. Really listen and see if you would do it the same way (assuming you have the skill to do so), or if you would play some or all of it differently.  Keep listening to it until it is engrained in your memory and then go to the sheet music and play it until you don't need the sheet music anymore.     

IMHO, there are at least three primary components to making good music.  1. Notes 2. Rhythm and 3. Artistic interpretation.  Of the first two, some argue convincingly that the notes come first, others (such as Jazz musicians) will argue convincingly that rhythm comes first. Artistic interpretation comes partly from which of the two you think comes first. The rest of it comes from acquiring the necessary skill to play the notes and rhythm in such a way that it expresses your own feelings and personality -- making the song truly your own. That's the hardest part.  

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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coolpinkone
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September 3, 2014 - 6:03 pm
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@Uzi

 

Keep listening to it until it is engrained in your memory and then go to the sheet music and play it until you don't need the sheet music anymore.   

Great points.  I still spew notes at times. {most of the time.. :(  } And you are right it is only after I break away from the sheet that I get to add my own feel and start to play from my ears and what and how I have heard others play.

I can use this advice for sure.  Thanks!

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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1stimestar
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September 4, 2014 - 3:47 am
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I have to learn the notes first, then after I have them memorized, I can play music.  Kind of like when you first learn to type.  You start off searching for each letter.  Hunt and peck.  Then you start to type words instead of letters.  Words like "the" and "and" come out as one word instead of three letters.  Same with music, it's just practice.  

 

Opportunity is often missed because it wears suspenders and looks like hard work.

 

Alaska, the Madness; Bloggity Stories of the North Country

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RosinedUp
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September 4, 2014 - 4:41 pm
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I wonder whether this is what the OP is getting at:

The first piece I learned from the notes alone was The Ash Grove.  I started reading and playing it without first hearing it.  I'm not much of a reader, so I was plodding along, trying to play each note.  But at first I didn't get the tune. 

If you are reading a grammatically-complex English sentence, at first you see words and maybe phrases, but if you can't parse it, you can't make sense out of it.  You're trying to figure out how each part fits into one coherent structure.  Then after you match the words to your idea of English grammar, you get a good feeling, and you get the meaning.

Only after I was able to play the notes of The Ash Grove smoothly did something click, and I was able to see the overall structure in terms of what I might call musical grammar.  Then I got the "meaning" of the tune.  I think the best measure of reaching that point is that you are able to remember the tune in your head.

That's a pattern that basically repeats whenever I learn a melody for sheet alone.  After I master each note, and then master the phrases, the whole thing comes together, and I don't need the sheet anymore.

Yes, once you master the individual notes and appreciate the overall structure, you gain a lot by memorizing.  If you can translate the memory of the sound of a tune into fingerings, then you are an ear player.  And don't think that that is something magical or mystical.  It is a skill that can be gained by doing.

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Tucson1
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September 4, 2014 - 5:02 pm
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Hey Kylesito ,

I like to memorize a tune as best i can from sheet while listening to a recording of that tune put on repeat fer a half hour or so at a time ...that way i can relate to the notes as they were meant to be played ...getting length / duration and color of the notes from the recording ....and then playing along with the recording as i feel more comfortable ...try it if yer so inclined , you might like it ....violin-1267Have fun     Be happy

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kylesito
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September 4, 2014 - 5:11 pm
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As always, great information here fiddlergroup.

 

Everyone's example is good and I appreciate hearing how each person crosses this bridge.  In a way, it's very comforting to hear others' thoughts and how they worked through it.

 

RosinedUp - your analogy of a sentence reminds me a lot of something from my own experience.  I'm a structural engineer and I get asked a lot of the time (especially by younger engineers/students) how one goes about designing every beam and column in a building.  The classic answer a veteran engineer always gives is "one beam at a time".  It's as true in engineering as I guess it is in musical playing...first you learn the pieces one at a time and only after you get all the pieces in your had can you put together the whole structure.

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VickieD
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September 5, 2014 - 2:15 pm
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Two of my biggest challenges - making notes sound like music and playing without the sheet. I very much admire those of you who can play by ear and without the sheet. Thanks all for posting some great ideas on this topic.semiquaver-1214

"A table, a chair, a bowl of fruit and a violin; what else does a man need to be happy?
~~Albert Einstein

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RosinedUp
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September 5, 2014 - 10:13 pm
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When you read, your eye sees the dot on the staff and your finger goes to the right place on the fingerboard.  Playing by ear, you hear the note in your head, and your finger goes to the right place.  So you see that the memory of the sound of the tune replaces the sheet.  Either way, your goal is not to memorize a sequence of finger positions.  Either way, you learn to translate to finger positions.  Either way you plod along at first.  But you keep doing it and it gets a lot easier.  And they are not mutually exclusive.

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VickieD
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September 6, 2014 - 8:12 am
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Thanks @RosinedUp - this translate to finger positions idea turned a light on - I have been trying to memorize - which does not work at all - especially under stress. I like your idea of translating the note in your head to a finger position - can't wait to try it.semiquaver-1214

"A table, a chair, a bowl of fruit and a violin; what else does a man need to be happy?
~~Albert Einstein

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RosinedUp
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September 6, 2014 - 6:44 pm
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In playing a simple tune by ear, what you need to have memorized is the sound of the tune.  If you play a simple tune that you can already sing or whistle or hum, there is nothing more to memorize.  If you gain a lot of skill at the above-mentioned translation, you will be able to pull some old tune out of your memory, one that you've never played, and play it correctly the first time.  Does that sound unlikely?  I didn't expect to be able to do it, but I was able to, after about four months of playing, after learning maybe ten or twenty very simple tunes by ear.

It's better if you learn the simple tunes without using sheet, and it is best to stick to just one key, probably G, at first.  So it helps to be able to identify the scale of a piece and to be able to transpose.  If you don't know how to do that, just look for sheet music of very easy familiar tunes with one sharp in the key signature.  That ensures that you'll be playing in an easy familiar key.  Then use the sheet music only for the first line or so; sound out the rest of the tune without using the sheet, by trial and error.  Later you branch out to other keys.

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