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My beginner's progress
Topic Rating: 4.6 Topic Rating: 4.6 Topic Rating: 4.6 Topic Rating: 4.6 Topic Rating: 4.6 Topic Rating: 4.6 (9 votes) 
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Reacher
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October 6, 2012 - 2:50 am
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Just documenting my own progress from my first day practicing onward.  Hopefully I continue this for as long as needed/I want (maybe forever? dunno).

 

Oct. 5, 2012 - 1st Day of Practice

  • ~ 4 hours total throughout the day, no longer than 1 hour at a time w/ frequent breaks
  • Tuning - gStrings free app.; A string then D, G, & E; very small adjustments on pegs will make big difference in sound; fine tuners for small adjustments; hear sound first to judge if right/wrong before using tuner to build own hearing; check bridge after every tuned string for f-hole alignment and standing straight/leaning slightly back; re-check other strings after tuning previous strings
  • Violin hold - Use chin rest effectively to lessen stress on left arm & shoulder; tuck violin more towards center to lessen neck tension; always look for best hold to make shifting in future smoother
  • Bow hold - Stretch/massage fingers/hand/wrist/arms/shoulders beforehand and even during if tension builds; thumb between padding and C-shape of frog; key is turning hand counter-clockwise enough to lessen stress on thumb and keep it bent; index finger should have nice bow contact to allow easy bow pressure; survey/feel bow hold for irregularities/stress and fix it right away; work on keeping pinky on top of bow end for stability
  • Bow strokes - Use fingers more instead of wrist to keep straight since wrist keeps angling sideways while bowing ; use shoulder only when playing higher strings since shoulder changes bow angle while bowing on lower strings; less pressure towards frog, more pressure towards tip; midpoint between bridge and fingerboard is optimal
  • Left hand - Thumb and index finger acts as holder at neck; slide thumb around bottom of neck for easier fingerings at higher strings/far away fingerings; keep fingers as close to strings as possible for faster response; more pressure along left side of fingers when holding strings down for better sound; muscle memory of fingerings in first position
  • Eyes - I look at where the bow contacts strings to make sure I'm playing in midpoint of bridge and fingerboard.
  • Music - Learned Part A of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star"

Bowing is by far the most challenging aspect so far, specifically playing straight strokes. Bow hold is getting easier to jump into and readjust during playing.  My judgement of notes being too high/low seems fairly good, though.  I'm proud and happy to have started off as well as I have.  I'll read about how to do basic recordings so I can get critiques from everyone. 

 

Onwards and upwards!  place-3596 violin-1260 amuse

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Picklefish
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October 6, 2012 - 9:32 am
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Sounds like an excellent preflight checklist! dont forget your instrumentation ie tuner/ metronome. Both are great for centering yourself even if you prefer to play without them. Relax is something to repeat to yourself throughout, and breath. Believe it or not Ive had people try to hold their breath, as if something bad were about to happen. Memorize the tune is a good goal for each piece, I understand you are a few days away from that but its something to work towards.

Keep it up, sounds like you are off to a great start. The best feeling is when all of that stuff happens automatically and you have stopped having to focus on it so much.jimi-hendrix

"Please play some wrong notes, so that we know that you are human" - said to Jascha Heifetz.

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Reacher
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October 6, 2012 - 2:21 pm
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Haven't tried a metronome yet.  The free tuner app doesn't have one so I'll try to remember the one on this site when the need arises. 

 

I was concentrating so hard at certain points of practicing, I forgot to breathe at times!  Might be the most important tip of all!fainting-1344

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Reacher
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Oct. 6, 2012 - 2nd Day of Practice

  • ~30 min. afternoon session; no lingering stress/tension afterwards
  • Full bowing open strings; slight bow bouncing during middle of stroke at times; screeching while playing closer to frog at times, even when applying minimal pressure (need to check in mirror more for crooked bow stroke)
  • Practiced bow tilting for string changes instead of lifting; must always practice tilting from now on!
  • Intonation/fingering practice and high/low sound judgement
  • Bow hold much more natural and comes quickly; only needed to readjust a few times during practice
  • Learned to upload videos and recorded full "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" song
  • Completed up to "First Finger on G" Fiddlerman tutorial

Hope to tackle more fingerings and another song next practice session.

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Picklefish
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Bow bounce could be caused by lack of pressure. Try turning the bowing wrist inwards towards you slightly the closer to the tip you bow and lesser the closer to the frog you go. You shouldnt press down on the bow to get more pressure its all in the wrist IMO. Screetching at the frog could be an indicator of pressing down on the strings. However, bowspeed and pressure need to be balanced, so too much pressure and too little speed can cause screetchin.

You should practice bow tilting and lifting to change strings. I say this cause often you have to hop over a string and tilting doesnt work as well for me for quickness. Of course you arent lifting really high either, more of a hop.

Crooked bow stroke is funny. I watch the greats and they dont bow parallel to the bridge, its more of an X shape, up and in, down and out. But, the one thing they do masterfully is maintian string contact at the point of resonance. So dont be so concerned about parallel as much as the bow hairs not sliding on the strings, that sounds bad too. This is what bow control is all about for me. Having enough rosin to get this is a trick too.

Try playing Twinkle on all pairs of strings for a nice Twinkle etude.

Congrats on your progress, sounds like you are a machine on a mission! Day two, man! jimi-hendrix

"Please play some wrong notes, so that we know that you are human" - said to Jascha Heifetz.

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Reacher
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October 7, 2012 - 12:29 pm
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  • ^ Read picklefish's numerous helpful tips above ^

Wow, thank you so much for all the tips, picklefish!  I would bold all your tips but would be easier just to reread the whole post every time.  Will try not to concern myself as much with playing parallel to bridge and more with constant string contact and sound.

I enjoy absorbing all the information I can about playing better and the violin in general.  Will try to practice and observe in action all your tips one at a time.  Hopefully can get an extended practice session in tomorrow.

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cdennyb
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WOW gabe, what a checklist... I just pick it up now, slap my chin down and start bowing. LOL

Never thought too much about such a strict schedule or method of playing. I suppose I might be better than I am if I had done that at the beginning like you are.

Rock on player! thumbs-up

"If you practice with your hands you must practice all day. Practice with your mind and you can accomplish the same amount in minutes." Nathan Milstein

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coolpinkone
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October 7, 2012 - 11:41 pm
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Hey there..way to document  your progress...  Keep up the good work!!  Yay!!!

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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Reacher
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October 8, 2012 - 12:59 am
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cdennyb said
WOW gabe, what a checklist... I just pick it up now, slap my chin down and start bowing. LOL

Never thought too much about such a strict schedule or method of playing. I suppose I might be better than I am if I had done that at the beginning like you are.

Rock on player! thumbs-up

@ denny: There are just so many different aspects to violin playing from the beginning that it seemed wise to jot down anything helpful for future studying/practicing.  I want to be able to make my own beautiful, sexy music as fast as possible, but from everything I've heard and read from people on this forum and researching online, taking it slow seems like the best course of action to get to that point.  Besides, my memory can be a bit spotty at times so I need a reliable place to keep all these juicy pearls of wisdom (have a backup on my computer, too). dazed

 

coolpinkone said
Hey there..way to document  your progress...  Keep up the good work!!  Yay!!!

Thank you for the encouragement! cheers  This might turn into a long, long document whenever it's finished, if it ever does really end, anyway.

 

Oct. 7, 2012 - 30 min. afternoon practice

  • Trying to un-collapse left wrist, leading to more weight on left thumb & index finger shelf and adjustment of violin hold.
  • Scratched surface of rosin to apply on bow since violin didn't sound as well as previous practices.  Seemed to improve the sound ultimately.
  • Open string playing with full bow strokes; tried playing with more bow pressure and speed which reduced my mid-bow bow bounce entirely at times and some screeching near frog, as well as producing a fuller, more pleasant sound.  Bow speed & pressure relationship seems to combat bow bounce and screeching quite a bit (thanks, picklefish!).
  • Played "Twinkle..." on all 4 strings.  I seem to bow better on G and D strings than A and E in general, while fingerings are more difficult on higher strings.
  • Noticed the E string (part of Overture Ultra string set) seems to be very "tinny"/screechy compared to the other 3 strings during general playing. Maybe my playing?
  • Bow sliding across strings much more than I wanted.  Probably combination of adjusting violin hold from un-collapsing wrist, bowing faster w/ more pressure, & still learning to maintain constant bow angle during stroke.

Pretty amazing how changing one thing can lead to having to adjust various other aspects. 

Anyone know the deal behind the E string being more tinny/screechy than the other 3 strings comparatively? Maybe I suck playing on E string? Maybe I was hearing the difference between a steel string and synthetic strings (E strings are always steel, right?)? I'm using the Overture Ultra strings that came with the violin.

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Grofica
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October 8, 2012 - 12:29 pm
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I know my teacher had my play on E for a while... Each string sort of has a different pressure to make it sound pretty and then different pressure for the bow depending where on the bow you are... 

 

maybe someone has a better explanation I am a noob so take it for what its worth... try playing a little lighter on E and see what that leads you.... it took me a while to get it and honest I still scratch. 

~Grofica 

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Fiddlerman
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October 9, 2012 - 12:20 am
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Thanks for sharing your learning experience with us Reacher.
Sounds like you are truly dedicated to learning the right way. If you ever build up enough courage, you are very welcome to post a progress video and we can you some constructive advice smile

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

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Reacher
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October 9, 2012 - 5:05 am
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Grofica said
I know my teacher had my play on E for a while... Each string sort of has a different pressure to make it sound pretty and then different pressure for the bow depending where on the bow you are... 

 

maybe someone has a better explanation I am a noob so take it for what its worth... try playing a little lighter on E and see what that leads you.... it took me a while to get it and honest I still scratch. 

Yeah, members like picklefish and Zelda have mentioned to me about finding the right balance with the E.  On every type of pressure I'd get the harsh screeching sometimes and other times not.  Later I'll post both recordings I remembered to take of my practice this evening so you guys can hear/see it (believe me, you will hear it...muahahahahaha!).

 

Fiddlerman said
Thanks for sharing your learning experience with us Reacher.
Sounds like you are truly dedicated to learning the right way. If you ever build up enough courage, you are very welcome to post a progress video and we can you some constructive advice smile

No problem, Pierre.  There are way too many aspects about learning to play this instrument to just keep them in my head.  I really want to play all the songs I've always envisioned myself playing for years, as well as participate in the group forum projects this community keeps creating.  Hopefully by the next one I can take on the basic violin part.

Will upload the recorded parts of my recent practice session soon. Everyone will have plenty to critique about them, I'm sure!

 

Oct. 7, 2012 - Practiced 3 hours total

  • Found a very comfortable position for my shoulder rest (~ 11:26 clock position) and chin placement on the violin, and as a result found shifting along violin neck to be very smooth; remembering to un-collapse wrist a little more
  • Mainly open strings practice with varying bow lengths, speeds, pressures, angles at same time; more screeching even on higher strings.
  • Practiced "Twinkle..." on all four strings
  • Used fingering chart to learn partial scales in G Major and D Major; first time using 4th finger to play notes, and remembered to try 4th-finger G-with-open D harmonic (above a half-step difference in sound on my attempt) and 4th-finger D-with-open A harmonic (very close to same sound).
  • Improved my bow hold towards end of practice since I was gripping it too far towards the screw-end of bow; now it feels more natural but pinky needs to adjust to increased upwards pressure

Also found some beginner's sheet music for one of the songs I want to learn to perform, and was able to read and find some nice, connected fingerings to roughly, slowly play some of it thanks to the fingering chart.  The song changes key midway into the piece...just my luck, eh?

Bowing was really testing my patience at times, but as I was deliberately opening up my bow playing this practice it was to be expected.  At least my violin hold and bow grip are getting more solid.  Hopefully some completed scales and finishing "Happy Birthday" next practice. 

Overall, I give myself 1000 points (or a 6/10).  violin-student  exactly

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Reacher
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Two recordings of part of my Oct. 8 practice.  LOWER YOUR VOLUME THE LAST 5 SECONDS OF PART 1 VIDEO as there is a very loud noise since my phone vibrates at that time.  Also, please don't strain your neck watching them in my newbie camera perspective!  These are not worth getting injured for. drooling

 

 

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Fiddlerman
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October 9, 2012 - 3:36 pm
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Interesting that you can play laying on your back like that. LOL

Keep up the good work.
Long straight bows to learn to control pressure and to bow straight are good. Also good that you are experimenting in the different sections of the bow. Like the way you stop when you notice that something is not working so as not to enforce whatever it is that is not working.
Interesting that you are touching on many aspects of bowing so soon, even spiccato.

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

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Fiddlestix
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October 9, 2012 - 5:41 pm
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 I had a tough time balancing my monitor 90 degree's to the right in order to watch the video, but I managed to watch the whole 14:18 of them.

If you want your video's critiqued, they should go in the category FM has provided for that.

Category: The Way We Play

Scroll down to: Critique Corner

Critique Corner was added to the forum for criticism, good, bad or indifferent.  There are some who take offense at being corrected/helped

 

        cheers

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Reacher
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October 11, 2012 - 4:27 am
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Fiddlerman said
Interesting that you can play laying on your back like that. LOL

Keep up the good work.
Long straight bows to learn to control pressure and to bow straight are good. Also good that you are experimenting in the different sections of the bow. Like the way you stop when you notice that something is not working so as not to enforce whatever it is that is not working.
Interesting that you are touching on many aspects of bowing so soon, even spiccato.

I'm sure I'll start the latest trend of Youtube videos of musicians playing in uncomfortable positions.  Trampoline violin playing, anyone? lumpy-2134

Spiccato looked like fun when I watched your tutorials so I just thought to try it out.  It's a playful technique from my little experience with it.  I've watched some other bowing techniques like marcato and such, so maybe I'll sprinkle them into my upcoming practices, too.  Doesn't hurt to try them out!

Fiddlestix said
 I had a tough time balancing my monitor 90 degree's to the right in order to watch the video, but I managed to watch the whole 14:18 of them.

If you want your video's critiqued, they should go in the category FM has provided for that.

Category: The Way We Play

Scroll down to: Critique Corner

Critique Corner was added to the forum for criticism, good, bad or indifferent.  There are some who take offense at being corrected/helped

 

        cheers

I like your dedication, good sir!  Thanks for pointing out the Critique Corner section.  Will get on that right now.

 

Oct. 10, 2012 - 30 min. afternoon practice

  • Observed visible brownish buildup on strings between bridge and fingerboard before tuning.  Most likely rosin buildup?  Didn't look black like Fiddlerman told me my silver strings might change to eventually.  Scratched it off with nails since cloth wasn't taking it off and didn't want to rub too hard with it.
  • Open strings practice with full bow strokes. Bow tilting a little more natural.  A slight decrease in screeching noises from what I remember.
  • Learned G Major scale 1st position from open G string to 2nd-finger F# on D string.  Stopped session right before learning up to 3rd-finger G octave on D string.  No biggie, will get it next practice.  Used tuner to first learn each note sound and corresponding finger position for each sound, then judged by ear after that, noticing if I was too high/low most of the time.  Fingering of B and C on 1st position G string was a bit weird as they are very close together4th finger D on G string is a bit challenging as I don't have the most flexible pinky/hand.  Will have to strengthen that up.

Short and sweet session today.  Reaching notes with 4th finger looks like another long-term challenge when I get to learning more scales and left-hand positions. 

Also, I've learned to appreciate the rosin dust that I wipe away during and after every practice session.  "Labor of love" sounds like the right expression here, as I enjoy immensely observing myself to find what feels right and what needs adjusting, taking on new fingerings and violin aspects and making sure to learn it well the first time or however many number of times I need, just trying to learn it as genuinely best as I can.  I'm a happy person right now.

*pats Concert Master appreciatively...then grabs cloth to wipe patted spot* 

1st-place

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puck
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This topic is very helpful for me.  I also just picked up a violin today.

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Picklefish
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to answer your question about the E string, they are always going to be steel strings. Some sound better than others, go to a v shop and find one with the sound you like. I use the plastic tube that came with mine, to keep it from cutting into the bridge. but I like to think that it tones the tinny down too. I am using dominants and so far I like em. I had zyex but didnt have an ear for music at that time so Im inclined to now go back and try em again. their cost is an influencing fator for me too. keep it up!

"Please play some wrong notes, so that we know that you are human" - said to Jascha Heifetz.

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