FORUM

Please have a look at our Forum Rules. Lets keep this forum an enjoyable place to visit.

A A A
Avatar

Please consider registering
guest

sp_LogInOut Log In sp_Registration Register

Register | Lost password?
Advanced Search

— Forum Scope —






— Match —





— Forum Options —





Minimum search word length is 3 characters - maximum search word length is 84 characters

No permission to create posts
sp_Feed Topic RSS sp_TopicIcon
Talk me off the ledge. Nothing going right
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (18 votes) 
Avatar
BowMeAway
Southern California
Member
Members
July 6, 2016 - 10:21 pm
Member Since: November 9, 2015
Forum Posts: 33
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

Warning: whiny material ahead. Cover your eyes if sensitive or if whiny people just happen to rub you the wrong way.

 

I have been playing now since September of last year. I started on my own (or actually, along with my son's book; he started playing last year in school) and began officially taking lessons once per week this past February. 

1. I am having so much trouble practicing for more than half an hour. I get a terrible pain on the inside of my forearm from the elbow down. That's mostly why I found a teacher. I wanted to find out how I was holding the violin wrong to produce the pain. I went down to practicing every other day and it seemed better once I did this BUT I feel like this infrequent practice just isn't making me get any better at playing. I am SO FRUSTRATED with my progress although my teacher keeps saying it takes years to get really good, and so on.

2. My teacher really wants me to use the shoulder rest. Ever since I started using this thing my arms get seriously tired and my bowing just stinks. I can't seem to get the hang of the steeper angle. I guess I will if I keep up with it, but...I don't know...is this worth it? It's more painful, both arms get more tired and my playing sounds terrible.

3. I just can't read music. Or...I sort of can. Once I get to the ledger lines, I'm lost. I can "sight-read" a bunch of the notes now but even so, still occasionally get confused with them. Then I get lost as to where I was. I've been doing this for so many months...am I stupid???

4. I put my little tapes back on because "feeling" around for the notes is frustrating me badly. I keep misjudging and everything sounds awful. I had the tapes off for about...maybe a month? Meanwhile, even with the tapes on I still have to look from my fingers to the notes and back and then I lose my place.

5. So many of my notes still just randomly sound bad. I will be playing a piece I thought I had "down" and will suddenly get whispery or crunchy or wiggly or...whatever.

6. I know people start vibrato within a few months - or I think they do. Me? I can't picture it. I just feel like I'm so slow and so behind the curve, and so untalented at this.

 

Seriously, am I just not meant to do this??? I want so badly to be able to play the violin. But I feel like a failure right now. I'm sorry, folks...it's just a bad day.

Avatar
BowMeAway
Southern California
Member
Members
July 6, 2016 - 10:28 pm
Member Since: November 9, 2015
Forum Posts: 33
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

I guess here's the thing: I just want to be able to play something pretty...and to love what I'm playing.

I am wondering whether I'm expecting too much of myself and should just go back to messing around with specific pieces I've found that I like, and trying however possible to make THOSE sound nice, and play them for my own enjoyment. That's what this really was supposed to be...learning to play because I'd always wanted to so much (but some things, like reading music, really got in my way and I lost confidence)...and just being able to produce nice sounds and feel happy.

I wonder if I'm "thinking like a student" too much and should go back and just enjoy again, like I did in the very beginning.

Avatar
Fran
Members

Regulars
July 6, 2016 - 11:20 pm
Member Since: June 8, 2016
Forum Posts: 125
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

@BowMeAway  I just started playing last month.  I'm basically doing scales, right now C Major and G major. Trying to concentrate on intonation and better bowing.  The I throw in a simple song that's in the book I'm using. I have no time table for anything. Just right now doing scales. Watching videos on this site is very helpful too for me.  I practice about 30 minutes at a time so as not to overdo it and will build up endurance over time. Don't be discouraged.  It take time and patience to learn

Avatar
BillyG
Far North-west Scotland
Members

Regulars
July 7, 2016 - 5:47 am
Member Since: March 22, 2014
Forum Posts: 1655
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

@BowMeAway - that wasn't whiny at all - it was a cry of sheer desperation.   We're here to help !  LOL

Everything I'm about to say is (a) as a relative newcomer (2 and a bit years) to fiddle, and (b) based on a much longer term background (50 years?? where does the time go) of "messing about with music on guitar and keyboards".   OK - they are completely different instruments, but all I'm saying is that I have "some kind of ear" for music.

Firstly - pain is not good.  When I started, I had a continual "death grip" on the fiddle. "It's slipping.  Oh no, it's gonna fall and hit the floor" and so on.   It took me fully four weeks to feel really relaxed with the instrument, and my left arm started to really relax.  It's NOT going to fall is all you need to think.  People are built differently.  I have a long-ish (compared to some) neck.  I really needed a shoulder-rest - without it I really had to have my entire head bent over to reach the chin-rest - causing muscle-tension in my neck.   It took me three attempts to get a shoulder-rest that suited me ( Oh - I can live with the other two, but one of them is just perfect ).  With the shoulder and chin rests appropriately installed it's easy to take hands-off the fiddle and walk around the room -just feeling the balance of the instrument under your chin.  If you can do that with confidence, you are not gonna drop the fiddle while playing (other than an unexpected "accident").

I'm still really addressing the "pain" thing - and where I was going with the above description of my own findings was that once you're really confident with "all hands off" you may find yourself with a much more relaxed right-arm - no "muscle-tension" which often leads to pain.

Bowing and horrid screeching and scratching also comes from many sources, but, again, if you are experiencing bowing arm pain - or even just "tiredness" that can often also come down to tension.  The bow is not heavy - 60 odd grams - and - much of the time it will be resting on a string.  The only time I ever "experience" the full weight of the bow is if I'm right round on the E string and bowing almost vertically - and - even then - it's so light I don't notice it.

Sight-reading - all depends on what you finally want to do and what if any musical background you have.  Make no mistake - sight reading is important - but - equally - it is not always necessary.  I can read sheet pretty well now - BUT - I cannot really "play from sheet" directly.  If it's a tune new to me, I'll get sheet, work through it really slowly, listen to how other players perform the tune (and the bulk of my stuff being fiddle or "easy listening" tunes - I then just get the overall tune "in my head", then start to work with it, taking it up to speed on the fiddle).    One thing I find invaluable is an application call MuseScore ( it's free.  Oh - it can be bit complicated - some people use it for fully orchestrated scores - but - for simple tunes - it's easy-peasy )  With the app you can enter a written score, transpose it to a key you are really "at home with", slow down the tempo for play-along-practice and so on.   Just because a piece happens to be scored in B-flat for instance - doesn't mean you as a soloist HAVE to play it in B flat.  People will still recognize the tune if you play it in D or A  

I've been doing this for so many months...am I stupid???

  Of course not !

  In your second post you may have hit on a plan to get you out of the doldrums - go for "something simple, but nice on the ear".   Ode to joy, twinkle, Happy Birthday etc etc..  the beauty of these simple tunes is that they are short.  they are simple.  Once you have them "nailed" in a plain straightfoward way to the point of a zen-like "playing without thinking about it" you will suddenly feel the freedom to embellish them, put in little scale-runs where none were scored and so on.  It's just my opinion, but for tunes like these, once learned - put the sheet aside and play by ear.  From time to time, try to play the tune through with eyes-closed (or at least looking away from the fingerboard LOL - don't fall over !)  You will feel accomplished, and your music will come-alive.  [ What I'm trying to suggest here is somehow to remove some of the "multiple tasks" the poor old brain is trying to accomplish concurrently - do you NEED to look at sheet, to look at your fingers, to think about the actual notes, to have that worry in the back of your mind "the fiddle will fall" - and so on.   That might lessen the load on the neural pathways and eventually make things easier - ROFL ]

@Fran hinted at this as well - for the tune you are about to work on, just work yourself into it by playing the scale you are using all the way through - many of these tunes all fit in a single octave - just practice the scale from the lowest note through to the highest note present in the tune.   

I'll leave it at that - just random thoughts from my own journey....

But please - above all - don't give up on your dream.

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes.  

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

Avatar
Schaick
Members

Regulars
July 7, 2016 - 7:39 am
Member Since: December 25, 2013
Forum Posts: 841
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

Hang in there!!  

I also started with a teacher to make sure I was holding the violin correctly.  What Suzuki Teach and I discovered - I am a stiff old lady!  She helped me find a position that was comfortable. It took me at least a year to get comfortable holding the crazy thing!! I took a total of 6 lessons once every other month the first year. I worked on just one aspect of the hold between lessons.  

I have on occasion been able to practice for only 5-10 minutes at a time. I watch grand-babies during the day.  Sometimes I think the multiple shorter practices are better than the longer.  I will walk by the fiddle and play a tune I am working on.

Vibrato is way over done!!  I have focused my effort on good rich solid tone.  Getting feeling without vibrato.  Skill with the bow!

Don't give up. You can do this!!

Violinist start date -  May 2013  

Fiddler start date - May 2014

FIDDLE- Gift from a dear friend. A 1930-40 german copy, of a french copy of a Stradivarius.  BOW - $50 carbon fiber. Strings - Dominants with E Pirastro Gold string.

Avatar
damfino
oHIo, USA
Members

Regulars
July 7, 2016 - 8:51 am
Member Since: July 23, 2015
Forum Posts: 877
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

I think your second posts speaks a bit about your frustration. I'll be honest here... I rarely practice scales (I'm not saying this as a good thing at all, I hate myself for this, lol). I don't have the patience for them. I know this will bite me in the butt someday, so I try to look them over and get some of them memorized. But I learn better by practicing songs, and least learning what scale they are in, and what that means. I do run through a few scales when I first get my violin out of the case to warm up my fingers and make sure my hand is in the right place, but I can't make a whole practice session out of them, I guess is what I'm saying, lol.

 
Your teacher most likely had a reason for having you put a shoulder rest on, she may have seen something in your hold that was going to cause some serious pain down the road. Your arms will get used to it, but you may need to tweak the settings of it to get it how you like. That's how my teacher and I worked, anyway. She set it up so I looked right, and then as I got more comfortable playing I'd feel free adjusting it more and more. Now it's how I like it, with a mix of how she said it should be for my neck.
 
Reading music... do you read through it without playing the violin along? I often scan over music while I'm watching TV, or just as a separate part of my practice, before I try playing it. I can sight read ok, I'm getting better, but I do better by playing slowly until I get the song memorized enough to move away from the sheet and just play. I also usually start off by listening to the song on youtube to get it in my head to help with playing it right. .... Looking at what BillyG says, he sounds a bit like me.
 
Vibrato is an individual thing, and everyone starts that at different points. Don't even worry about that. 🙂 
 
Here's my homework for you: Find a song you love, maybe one that holds some good memories, even childhood memories, and learn that one. It'll help boost your moral 🙂 I just learned Take Me out to the Ballgame just for that reason, it was my homework assignment to myself, lol.
 
And I think everyone has the days, weeks or months they wonder what they heck they are doing trying to learn an instrument. I'm having a couple weeks like that myself at the moment, but since in the end I love it and really want to do it, I'm trying to ignore that feeling and just keep going. So I encourage you to do the same 🙂

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

Avatar
RonB
Jeffersonville, VT
Member
Members
July 7, 2016 - 12:23 pm
Member Since: April 25, 2016
Forum Posts: 43
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

There's a very good and logical reason why you should not quit playing. But I'll get to that later. In the meantime I'm going to repeat a lot of what others have already said because it's worth repeating and remembering.

Pain after 30 minutes:

Thirty minutes is a long time at first. I started out with 15 minutes twice a day. Then 30 minutes at one time in the morning. I set a timer. I think it also depends on what you're doing in that time. If it's all exercises and new material, you'll get tired faster. Including a simple tune or two into the mix will help you relax. I don't mind playing scales and arpeggios, so I'll do them to get my bearings and calm down.

You can set a 5 minute timer to work on one thing, such as bowing. Then another 5 minutes for scales and arpeggios. Another 5 minutes for four measures of the new material. That's it for the morning. Later take 5 minutes to practice vibrato and 5 minutes for the painful notes on the G-string and 5 minutes for simple tunes. 

Having a violin stand where the instrument is accessible will make it easier to pick it up outside of regular practice times and play for a couple of minutes.

Thirty minutes a day is enough to improve.

Reading music:

When I first started playing, my instructor didn't want me to learn to read music. She thought that the best Irish fiddlers learned to play by ear and couldn't read music. I'm not sure I agree with that. Kevin Burke was classically trained before starting in the Irish tradition, and he's one of the best. 

But there is a happy medium between listening and reading. I use a combination of sheet music and a CD to learn a tune. Sometimes I can only work on 2 or 3 measures at a time. Let the sheet music be an aid not a master. Ironically, your reading speed will increase by itself. I think that also applies to ledger lines.

Shoulder rest:

That's a personal choice. I've been all over the place with this, but in the end I'm using a fairly standard rest. Sometimes I can play without one. Most of the time it's easier with. Some people use a very simple, low profile rest that's just a sponge and a rubber band. Check out FiddlerShop for that option (3 bucks). Maybe you will end up wanting to use a rest sometimes and not other times. Maybe it'll depend on whether you're standing or sitting. Or whether it's morning or evening. Again it's very personal. Keep looking for what works for you.

Intonation:

I think the easiest and best way to learn intonation is to play answer-backs, scales, and arpeggios with an instructor or CD. I started out using a book and CD by Jim Tolles. My edition is still available: Violin Primer. He has a new edition out: Fiddle Primer. They seem to be similar, but the newer edition also has a DVD. Whenever I've gotten too far afield with bowing or intonation, I've just started again with Jim Tolles. Why so many restarts? More about that later.

Vibrato:

I've been surprised at how some members here are doing vibrato at what seems to me as early in their playing. I've played off and on for a long time and am just starting to work on it now—for 10 minutes a day until the timer goes off. When I first started on the violin, I told a friend that I thought it was like trying to rub your stomach and pat your head at the same time. He said, "Ya, with your feet." Practicing vibrato makes that seem less like an exaggeration. But I think I'll get there.

Don't quit:

Why have I had to go back to Jim Tolles so many times? Because I've quit so many times. OK. So here's that very good and logical reason for you to not quit. Chances are you'll just be back anyway. Maybe you should just take a little break. One day? No more than that. Every other week.

Anyway:

What genre music are you studying? How are your practice sessions structured? How often do you have a lesson with your instructor? And how long is it?

Keep us posted.

Avatar
Fran
Members

Regulars
July 7, 2016 - 1:08 pm
Member Since: June 8, 2016
Forum Posts: 125
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

I hope all these suggestions and encouragements keep you playing. We're here for you

Avatar
Charles
Advanced member
Members
July 7, 2016 - 1:11 pm
Member Since: June 7, 2016
Forum Posts: 77
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

#1 - I have the same problem, and I suspect so do most people who come at this as adults.  You have to build strength, and stretch muscles and tendons so they can hold this new, awkward position comfortably. That will NOT happen overnight. I can't play more than a few minutes at time. But I don't play until it hurts.  That's a prime rule for playing the violin - if it hurts, don't do that. It hurts when I stop, sometimes, but I untwist it, stretch it, massage it until it doesn't. Only then will I play again. I may put in 45 minutes in one day, but it's going to be 15 3-minute sessions, not one long one. (I couldn't even play 15 minutes straight, let alone 30.)  So listen to your body, and play as long as you can without pain.  If that means that, right now, you can't practice as many hours a day as you'd like... well, those are the breaks. Slowly building up your endurance will work. Trying to rush it will probably hurt you and slow you down. It could conceivably damage you so that you can never do it easily.

Your whole post says you're overwhelmed. I agree with the point you made in your second post - you've set your expectations for yourself too high (for now). It's not that you can't do these things, it's that you can't do all of them, perfectly, right now.

It sounds like you're at the "conscious competence" stage of things. You can do any one of these techniques (bowing straight with no glitches, hitting the right note, hitting the right string (with both the finger and the bow), read music, keep time, etc, etc. - if you're concentrating on that one. The problem is that, having mastered it at the conscious level, you think you've mastered at the unconscious level (where you don't have to think about it, you just automatically do it.) It takes a LOT of repetitions to get there. So the fact that when you're playing with the violin in a new position, your bowing is off simply means you need to practice just bowing (open strings, no fingering) with it in that position until it's better. And then practice it a whole lot more to get that unconscious competence.

That experience of trying to do one new thing and having everything else come apart is common to almost all of us. There's only one way to prevent it, and that's to practice each of the basic things until your dream self is dreaming about them. It's excruciatingly boring. The alternative is to live with the period of chaos until the new thing is somewhat mastered, and the old stuff starts coming back together.

The "practice the basics" stuff may be boring, but it also can be reassuring. Make the exercise simple enough and you will be able to do it and/or get better at it. Just don't mix in 18 other things at the same time.  If you're ever doubting your ability, try that. Just practice one basic technique at a time.

Re the tapes and reading music. If you can play by ear, then you don't need to read music, and if you're not reading music, then you can watch your fingers.  You'll have to give up watching your fingers to read music, though, so just be sure to work on that skill before starting to work on reading music. Trying to master tapeless fingering AND reading music at the same time is a really good way to frustrate yourself.

I could go on and on (this is the 3rd draft, and the shortest of the three), but I don't even know if this will help, so I'd probably better wait and find out.

Charles

Avatar
BillyG
Far North-west Scotland
Members

Regulars
July 7, 2016 - 3:11 pm
Member Since: March 22, 2014
Forum Posts: 1655
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
10sp_Permalink sp_Print
5

LOL @charles - you sum it up well !

It's really great to get what is almost "real-time" feedback from newcomers to the game, and to hear and read their own analyses of their issues.   I believe that "really experienced players" ( I don't mean tutors, just well-experienced players ) probably "forget" about their initial struggles - simply because their playing has become almost automatic - they play with their heart, not their head - and it can always be "difficult to go back to basics" and tune-in to what once, possibly many years ago, may have seemed an insurmountable problem.   Not that I am anywhere near the following level - but I was reading about some complicated Irish reel "fingering and bowing" - it was like 10 things were going on at the same time - and this chap - who who was being asked to describe his technique and  "does it" - perfectly - cannot really put it into words   so how am I ever gonna do it ?pie_in_the_face-2223

You say - 

I could go on and on (this is the 3rd draft, and the shortest of the three),

  hahahah, me too !!!!   (well, I don't bother with drafts, I just witter on until it feels appropriate to stop when discussing these things ! )

  Good luck with your own journey !

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes.  

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

Avatar
intrepidgirl
Members

Regulars
July 7, 2016 - 3:38 pm
Member Since: March 8, 2015
Forum Posts: 105
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
11sp_Permalink sp_Print
5

@BowMeAway : There is some excellent advice here already but I will add one thing that I did for the first year I was learning (like, last year, I am a newbie).  Fiddlerman has four pages of Etudes, one for each string.  They are scale-like and each is a practice sheet for a single string.  They each end with some simple song.  I got in the habit of practicing these four sheets as my warmup each time I practiced for over a year when I started playing.  In addition to practicing tone, the reach of my fourth finger, and bow practice, I was consistently reading the sheet and memorizing where the note was on the instrument so that when I was tackling a new song I recalled where that note was.  If I am ever feeling like I am struggling I pull those out and practice them.  You might find this helps with your reading music challenges.  I also found when I started that my shoulders were stiff, neck was sore, arms tired.  We think violin is not physical but it is!

Keep on working on it, it will come!

Avatar
BowMeAway
Southern California
Member
Members
July 7, 2016 - 7:10 pm
Member Since: November 9, 2015
Forum Posts: 33
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
12sp_Permalink sp_Print
0

I am reading and re-reading all these replies.

I can't thank you all enough for these suggestions. They are SOLID. I was hoping maybe for a "there, there" pat on the back (LOL) but felt kind of down about the possibility of real, solid help but by gosh...here it is. From every single person who answered. Just thank you. 

I am going to put all these suggestions into practice and am also so grateful people "get it" and that I'm not the only one who has had to work through some of these issues. I don't know why I imagined everybody else just picked up the instrument and automatically sounded wonderful, LOL. Part of it may be that many of the recordings here on the site of members playing DO sound wonderful, and inspired. In fact, hearing others play is part of what made me so badly want to play. I said, "I want to do that, and feel that." That, you know, "feeling" you get when you're playing (I'm not expressing myself very well today, LOL).

I am going to read again. I'm actually taking notes. (I know. Dork alert!) But most of all I'm going to try to enjoy this process behind all the technicalities and all the practice. That's why I picked up the violin in the first place. Come what may, that's what I'm going to do.

It's interesting that so many people are mentioning listening to the piece, reading the music through a few times, then really not looking at the music again. This is what I do!! It's what I've done on every piece that I've memorized (I have all the pieces up to Etude in Suzuki 1 memorized plus the "traditional easies" like Old MacDonald, the small Ode to Joy piece and so on...they're not artful, but they're memorized). I thought this was WRONG. If it isn't, I'm going to keep up with this method! I won't stop trying to learn to read (just because I feel like it is a useful skill anyway...as people here are supporting) but I am going to get my eyes away from the music and back to my fingers if I want to and if I know I can. That's just what has worked better for me. It may have been a mistake to try to abandon that.

Thank you again. Every single person who replied. 

Avatar
BowMeAway
Southern California
Member
Members
July 7, 2016 - 10:53 pm
Member Since: November 9, 2015
Forum Posts: 33
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

So I attempted the trick of holding the violin with just my chin/jaw and it did feel like it was slipping, for sure. This shoulder rest just doesn't seem to "hook on" properly. It feels too...shallow? Like, not enough of a bump over the shoulder?

The one I have on now is an Everest 4/4~3/4.

I am a short person (5'1") with a short neck, I think. My collarbones are very pronounced and "jabby" and yes, they hurt against either the rest or the violin itself. Not excruciatingly or anything. 😀 But I notice it.

Does anyone have any ideas for a better rest for me?

 

ETA: I'm sorry. I never answered questions.

What genre music are you studying?

I am doing the Suzuki book, which is what my violin teacher preferred. I started the book in February. Genres in this book are mixed and I only now started my first "real" piece, Bach's Minuet for Cello (is that what it would be called?) No. 1. So, so far that is 13 short musical pieces plus exercises.

How are your practice sessions structured?

I do scales and then I literally go through the book, which includes both pieces and exercises, progressively. The exercises pretty much consist of 4th fingering, arpeggios, full stops and slurs. My last piece will be what I call my homework piece. That one, I will concentrate on and repeat in full, and repeat trouble spots.

How often do you have a lesson with your instructor? And how long is it?

One-half hour per week, each week. 🙂

Avatar
BillyG
Far North-west Scotland
Members

Regulars
July 8, 2016 - 12:38 am
Member Since: March 22, 2014
Forum Posts: 1655
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
14sp_Permalink sp_Print
5

@BowMeAway - quote

I said, "I want to do that, and feel that." That, you know, "feeling" you get when you're playing (I'm not expressing myself very well today, LOL).

  On the contrary, expressed perfectly.   That's your "heart" talking - and you have already internalized what that must feel like and the little-buzz you just KNOW you are going to get when something just "works" and falls-into-place effortlessly....

   I would argue that the technical aspects of playing are no more than a set of tools to achieving your ultimate goal of enjoyment and enlightenment....  you are going to succeed !

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes.  

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

Avatar
1stimestar
Members

Regulars
July 8, 2016 - 6:09 am
Member Since: August 28, 2013
Forum Posts: 814
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
15sp_Permalink sp_Print
5

Ugh, I've been playing a bit over 4 years and my teacher is just now starting to teach me vibrato.  Years ago when she found I was a big user of youtube, she made me promise that I would not look it up on youtube to try to teach it to myself.  So yea, I am also really surprised when people are doing vibrato when they don't quite even have the notes right yet.  

As an only parent to two, a full time job and two occasional jobs, I sometimes get my practice in 5 minute increments.  I think that helps actually.  I leave my fiddle out and my music up, ready to play at a moments' notice.  Good luck, you'll get there.  

 

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

 

Alaska, the Madness; Bloggity Stories of the North Country

Avatar
Charles
Advanced member
Members
July 8, 2016 - 11:32 am
Member Since: June 7, 2016
Forum Posts: 77
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

@BowMeAway - I don't have any suggestions for a brand of shoulder rest (I started out with a Bon Musica, which is generally considered the most adjustable) and switched to an Everest, as more comfortable, and easier to adjust in the ways I wanted to.

An Everest is a little adjustable in height, by screwing the parts that grip the violin in or out.

Another trick is that you can move the shoulder rest to lots of different places on the violin. Anywhere on the lower bout is legal, from the waist to the end pin (the button on the bottom.)

I originally moved mine out all the way to the waist, because the leverage was all wrong with it in close to my neck. A light pressure on the fingerboard was stronger than my head.

You mentioned it being too high - moving it further out away from your neck (towards the waist) will lower the scroll, as well as give you more leverage.  If you can use the chinrest in it's intended fashion (kind of laying your cheek on it, as opposed to pushing it down with your chin), that should give you a decent grip. If you have to use a lot of force to get a decent grip, keep experimenting. Using lots of force will hurt soon, cause damage (to you) somewhat later, and create lots of tension all over your body, which will hurt your playing horribly.

Also, both "shoulder rest" and "chin rest" are misnomers. "Chest rest" and "cheek rest" might be better names.

If you can, post a video (or at least a few pictures) of how you're holding things now, and what the problem areas are, and we can probably give better advice. Include how you'd hold it without the shoulder rest.  Shoulder rests and chin rests are both optional, and according to my teacher, when chin rests were first invented, people used them on the right side of the violin, not the left. So there's a lot of flexibility possible in how you hold it.

Avatar
Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
July 8, 2016 - 1:49 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 11717
17sp_Permalink sp_Print
5

BowMeAway said
Warning: whiny material ahead. Cover your eyes if sensitive or if whiny people just happen to rub you the wrong way.

I'm ready!

I have been playing now since September of last year. I started on my own (or actually, along with my son's book; he started playing last year in school) and began officially taking lessons once per week this past February. 

1. I am having so much trouble practicing for more than half an hour. I get a terrible pain on the inside of my forearm from the elbow down. That's mostly why I found a teacher. I wanted to find out how I was holding the violin wrong to produce the pain. I went down to practicing every other day and it seemed better once I did this BUT I feel like this infrequent practice just isn't making me get any better at playing. I am SO FRUSTRATED with my progress although my teacher keeps saying it takes years to get really good, and so on.

How long it takes to get really good (and that is subjective) is individual. Is based on so many factors. You only need to play well enough to have fun and make enough progress to see the light. Baby steps are better than no progress.

Perhaps we can increase your practice sessions by getting you comfortable and relaxed. It requires as much work as does everything else. FOCUS on the relaxation and stop immediately when you are tensed or in pain.

2. My teacher really wants me to use the shoulder rest. Ever since I started using this thing my arms get seriously tired and my bowing just stinks. I can't seem to get the hang of the steeper angle. I guess I will if I keep up with it, but...I don't know...is this worth it? It's more painful, both arms get more tired and my playing sounds terrible.

I don't use a shoulder-rest but I'm not against it either. You need to find a retailer that carries many different types of rests. You shouldn't have to play on a steep angle. Truth is that it's not as good (gravity in mind) to play on an angle. There are shoulder rests that help keep the instrument horizontal.

3. I just can't read music. Or...I sort of can. Once I get to the ledger lines, I'm lost. I can "sight-read" a bunch of the notes now but even so, still occasionally get confused with them. Then I get lost as to where I was. I've been doing this for so many months...am I stupid???

I doubt it. This is definitely not a sign of intelligence or stupidity. 🙂
Sounds normal for a beginner and you may not need to read music either.
Read music one note at a time and use very basic simple music to begin with.

Also, try my games at the top of the page. I have two for reading music.

4. I put my little tapes back on because "feeling" around for the notes is frustrating me badly. I keep misjudging and everything sounds awful. I had the tapes off for about...maybe a month? Meanwhile, even with the tapes on I still have to look from my fingers to the notes and back and then I lose my place.

Not a problem to use them, just easy to get into a habit and harder to get rid of them later. Scales are meant for learning the finger patterns, and distances for finger placement accuracy. Scales in various keys can help you get used to different patterns. While playing scales slowly you can focus on relaxation. 🙂

5. So many of my notes still just randomly sound bad. I will be playing a piece I thought I had "down" and will suddenly get whispery or crunchy or wiggly or...whatever.

Hang in there, it does get better with time.
You may also need a better instrument or an adjustment. Better instrument produce better sound and with less effort.

6. I know people start vibrato within a few months - or I think they do. Me? I can't picture it. I just feel like I'm so slow and so behind the curve, and so untalented at this.

You probably just need the right person to show you how.

Seriously, am I just not meant to do this??? I want so badly to be able to play the violin. But I feel like a failure right now. I'm sorry, folks...it's just a bad day.  

We all have these bad days. Think of learning the violin like building a house. Start with the planning, the foundation..... towards the very end you work with finishing, decoration, paint and so on..... Rome was not built overnight.:)

Welcome to the forum.

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

Avatar
Demoiselle
Members

Regulars
July 9, 2016 - 12:02 pm
Member Since: June 26, 2016
Forum Posts: 179
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
18sp_Permalink sp_Print
5

1. "I am having so much trouble practicing for more than half an hour. I get a terrible pain on the inside of my forearm from the elbow down. That's mostly why I found a teacher. I wanted to find out how I was holding the violin wrong to produce the pain. I went down to practicing every other day and it seemed better once I did this BUT I feel like this infrequent practice just isn't making me get any better at playing. I am SO FRUSTRATED with my progress although my teacher keeps saying it takes years to get really good, and so on."

I play violin since May last year and I pause at least every 5 minutes of playing! At the start I also wanted too much at one time and I downright forbade it to myself. I shake my arms gently while pausing and then maybe talk to my bird for a while or wash some dishes. And after pausing I definitely play better than torturing myself for a long time. Pausing 3 minutes should be great for a fresh new practice interval.

_____

2. "My teacher really wants me to use the shoulder rest. Ever since I started using this thing my arms get seriously tired and my bowing just stinks. I can't seem to get the hang of the steeper angle. I guess I will if I keep up with it, but...I don't know...is this worth it? It's more painful, both arms get more tired and my playing sounds terrible."

I have a long neck and a shoulder rest would be right. So I bought one and I really hate it. So then I'm not gonna use it, hell. Violinists of ancient music often use fabric and play even without chin rest that way. The fabric can be pleated several times, depending on how much you need. On the bottom the fabric will give you a cozier feeling for your décolleté, and so on the top for your cheek. I have fabric over my chin rest, it's fixed on the bottom too. That's much more comfortable than a shoulder rest. Frankly, I feel like these shoulder rests make the hold quite a bit unstable, compared the fabric method. You might try it with a towel and later look for a neat piece of fabric.

_____

3. "I just can't read music. Or...I sort of can. Once I get to the ledger lines, I'm lost. I can "sight-read" a bunch of the notes now but even so, still occasionally get confused with them. Then I get lost as to where I was. I've been doing this for so many months...am I stupid???"

So then we share the same stupidity. LOL! Which obviously was the reason why I started improvising and composing. I can't even play my own compositions right away—I forget my own phrases right away!! When I was young (I'm also over 50) I had a piano teacher who probably also guessed me stupid. I was supposed to play a simple piece by Schubert and it was horrible. Already experience with jazz harmonies, I took a pencil at home, analyzed the pieces' chords and wrote the chords over the notes. After that I was able to play it, dabbling between Schubert's notes and my chord symbols. From that day on my piano teacher admired me, for she didn't know much about chords. Why aren't you playing by ear, just looking at the notes before playing? I use notes for trumpet, but they are banned for violin right now. Because having to focus on a sheet will be one more struggle on top of the technical problems I am facing already. And please pick simpler pieces if you feel like it's too difficult. If the teacher acts kind of like a slave driver, tell her off. You are paying her, so you are boss! Make playing the violin as easy and enjoyable as possible. The saying, "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" is bunch of hooey. It won't make you stronger, it will only make you convulse. A convulsing person cannot enjoy music, nor play nice music.

_____

4. "I put my little tapes back on because "feeling" around for the notes is frustrating me badly. I keep misjudging and everything sounds awful. I had the tapes off for about...maybe a month? Meanwhile, even with the tapes on I still have to look from my fingers to the notes and back and then I lose my place."

I think you can play just one nice note. I was recording this last summer and it sounds very much better than the longer pieces I played at that time. Now, a year later I still find it nice: http://galantewelt.de/PCM/Musi.....oetica.mp3 It sounds better than anything I played at that time, because it's a very simple and short phrase. I used it as a blog jingle and it's still ringing whenever you go to that blog. But I really kept my phrasing as simple as possible, otherwise the playing will not be relaxed enough. Whenever there's a struggle, lower the standard. There are very simple melodies which are nice to play. And don't try to play fast, you should play as slowly as possible at the start.

_____

5. So many of my notes still just randomly sound bad. I will be playing a piece I thought I had "down" and will suddenly get whispery or crunchy or wiggly or...whatever.

The greatest difficulty at the beginning is changing from one string to another. This should never be forced—I always gave myself time!! Frankly, I mostly avoided changing to other strings within one phrase during the first weeks. You can rather play nice melodies on just one string, then you take a deep breath and play on another string. The worst thing you can do, is allowing the time/beat to rush you over that change. That would be a headache. My basic law was tolerance to myself and I would expect it from a teacher as well. When ever I was improvising my usual stuff, I was going over to long-long notes before changing to a different string. Giving myself as much time as possible, to manage the transition. I did practice those transition in isolated moments, but never too long. Struggling to long with just one issue doesn't help. Break it off and try it later again.  I was looking for a teacher as sort of tutor, but this was difficult even in Berlin. Still I'm thinking about a violin student from an ancient music class of our college. These people could teach me something. But my first rule would be: "Don't rush me!" And if I have to use a bull whip to explain it to the teacher... A teacher has no right to act like a slave driver.

______

6. "I know people start vibrato within a few months - or I think they do. Me? I can't picture it. I just feel like I'm so slow and so behind the curve, and so untalented at this."

No way, don't even think of vibrato! It would make your situation more difficult. I tried it from time to time and decided, "Nope, maybe in a year or so...." I am playing baroque and if this is played authentically, there's almost no vibrato. In folk vibrato is mostly uncommon, in jazz these days as well. Classical music has been vibrato infested since the 1920s and it seems to have gotten worse even in the 30s. You know those 30s Hollywood films with whiny, vibrating violins. I do like these films and like Gershwin, Porter, Kern etc./etc. .... But not on my violin! My philosophy is: if people tell me, I sound like a professional (that's what they tell my whenever I play jazz trumpet), I'm relaxed enough to add on vibrato.

Avatar
Demoiselle
Members

Regulars
July 9, 2016 - 12:25 pm
Member Since: June 26, 2016
Forum Posts: 179
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
19sp_Permalink sp_Print
5

and will suddenly get whispery

That's my old problem, I've been writing about it in another thread yesterday. My D-string G problem. I told the seller of our music store, "My violin has gaps." Other notes simply didn't sound as weak as that darn G. The violin had no gaps, it was a psychological problem.

The basic problem was, the ring finger is weaker than the index and middle finger. And the weakness of the ring finger was effecting my bow hand: the bow was slowing down and almost stopping. Which I didn't realize, because I was constantly focusing on that point of the fingerboard, where the G is. Which again is a reason to slow down, to have more time to watch myself.

I play much faster now than a year ago—but still no overdo! Know I know, I have to defocus from the fingerboard and watch the bow, whenever the G sounds weak. I have been downright afraid of that G for months. Which was the biggest problem I had at the violin. It is solved now. I have now begun to let my ring finger trill, which was only possible with index and middle finger before. It will make my ring finger stronger and I have more options to use trills. And whenever I trill with G and F#, I don't look at my ring finger and watch the bow. It works like a dream. 

Avatar
Demoiselle
Members

Regulars
July 9, 2016 - 12:53 pm
Member Since: June 26, 2016
Forum Posts: 179
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

@BowMeAway

You need a basic change, for your negative ideas and experiences must go away to have the right motivation. You should forget all that, because it's psychologically blocking you and that's hindering progress. Give yourself a fresh start and do it as easy as possible. And tell your teacher to not challenge you too much. You're not going to go to music college, you have time. And do pause every couple minutes, for a violin is no torturing rack. Take a deep breath now and  then.

I think you can play a nice sounding open D. So then you play D and E in long notes and try to play it with a bit feeling. Enjoy the sound of the violin--even these 2 notes can be nice music. I think you can make nice slow music just on the D string, up to G. Trying the transition up to the open A should be done carefully then. You should not rush that. I started with just that A, not daring any more adventures on the A string. Always slow-slow-slow. Children learn faster than we do!

No permission to create posts
Forum Timezone: America/New_York

Most Users Ever Online: 231

Currently Online: sexymom04
45 Guest(s)

Currently Browsing this Page:
1 Guest(s)

Members Birthdays
sp_BirthdayIcon
Today None
Upcoming HeadCheese, Mad_Wed, ButteryStuffs, kit, makinnoise

Top Posters:

coolpinkone: 3767

Mad_Wed: 2849

Barry: 2661

Fiddlestix: 2637

Oliver: 2439

DanielB: 2379

Member Stats:

Guest Posters: 1

Members: 3557

Moderators: 0

Admins: 2

Forum Stats:

Groups: 16

Forums: 56

Topics: 6445

Posts: 80382

Newest Members:

sexymom04, FerSZ, elaine a, Mukundan, MyMing, dbsimon

Administrators: Fiddlerman: 11717, KindaScratchy: 1651