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What have you unlearned?
bad habits broken
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (1 votes) 
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RosinedUp
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January 23, 2013 - 10:01 am
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Sometimes someone says that they had learned on their own for X months or Y years and then started taking lessons. 

And they say that it was like starting over because they had to break habits of playing wrong.

Since self learning may be the main idea of this site, maybe each of us should take a look at this issue.

If this has happened to you or someone you know of, can you describe what things were learned wrong and how they were unlearned?

Which were the costliest mistakes and which not so costly?

Also if you learned on your own and then went to an instructor, did you have a different experience?  I mean maybe your instructor complimented you on your skills or was amazed that you played so well without lessons.

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Picklefish
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January 23, 2013 - 10:51 am
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When I first got the new teacher he had me do a few things to improve my tone.

1. use more wrist twist type pressure to play louder

2. use longer bow strokes to improve tone, loudness, projection and to relax and open up my chest and shoulders.

3. tilt the bow away from me

4. fixed my bowing so that my wrist was more flexible and that I bowed straighter, stayed on a single point of resonance, and limited shoulder bowing.

Other than that my technique was fine, lol. So I find that these are also the most common things that beginners get wrong or need tweaking to improve.

As far as the left hand goes, there are stylistic preferences for form and function. But, for beginners;

1. Not keeping a straight wrist, as opposed to a collapsed wrist

2. Not having the knuckles of the hand parallel to the fingerboard, or the crease at the base of all fingers if you prefer

3. Using the pads to finger the notes instead of tips

4. Not lifting and tapping for each note (guilty myself)

Now while many will object to these as being bad habits, I remind you that many of these things are designed to build strength in fingers or to create the most efficient method of fingerings according to the books I read to learn from. I am most interested in classical music primarily (bluegrass second).

Part of the problem in producing a consistent learning base for everyone to accept and use as a starting block is that there are so many danged opinions on proper. lol There are plenty of people performing live and on youtube, including successful fiddlers that use their own style. So I feel it comes down to comfort and ability to consistently play the right notes in the style you like. Since most dont expect or want to be a David Garrett or Hillary Hahn or even a Brian Wicklund, all of that is fine with me. First and formost you should be having a good time with this and learning is fun. (Hopefully that has dissuaged some of you from calling me out on this topic, ha ha)

Peace- the Pfish

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

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Robyn.fnq
Queensland, Australia
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January 23, 2013 - 10:52 pm
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Thanks for starting this thread RosinedUp, I'm sure we all have something to try and unlearn.

For me, the worst thing I just cannot stop doing is left thumb squeeze.  I start off watching it and it's all relaxed and cool, and after looking back to the sheet music it's got it's squeeze up again.  Along with that, if I'm deliberately relaxing and watching it, often my whole left hand starts to drift and suddenly I'm another half centimetre up the fingerboard.

I know the old advice ... practise practise practise ... but I've been doing that for over a year now.

Anyone?

beg

If you think you can, or you think you can't, you're probably right.

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peanut_gallery
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January 23, 2013 - 11:28 pm
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I had a pretty positive experience going to my first (and only so far) instructor. I had been playing on and off for about nine months when I had my first lesson. After describing what I had been teaching myself and playing a couple pieces, she complemented me and was a little surprised. Now after 4 or so lessons she thinks she has a good idea on which direction to work with me.

Some corrections so far: (Surprisingly most are just small little tweeks)

Keeping bow thumb bent and bow hold in general - pretty much solved

Loosening tension in bow shoulder - still working on that

Loosening tension in general

Intonation of course

One thing she shakes her head at is how i bounce around with pieces in different key signatures, playing styles, fast tempos, and things way beyond my skill level. But I tend to leap into things with both feet, so thats not going to change anytime soon.

Im sure there is others that Im not remembering right now.

A hoopy frood always knows where his towel is!

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FiddleDetroit
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January 24, 2013 - 12:35 am
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This is a great topic, thanks for starting it RU...

I had been 'teaching myself' for the past 10 months or so and just started going to a private teacher to get more 'serious' about playing.

Here are the things that my teacher corrected:

1. Posture, I had it all wrong and she had to reset me to a proper position with my right leg back a bit behind the leg of the chair (because I am tall I assume)

2. Violin hold, though I was technically holding the violin somewhat properly my shoulder rest was set to the wrong height which caused my neck to hurt after I'd play.  She adjusted it and set me in to the proper hold.  

3. Fingering, I had and still have what she's been calling the death squeeze on the neck and we're working on relaxing my left hand to where I have more agility and dexterity in my hand for faster playing.

4. Bow hold, she said this was right on, however I have to work on relaxing the pinky and not straightening it out or extending it to far to where it strains my hand.  Overall this area seemed good to her.

5. Tone, she didn't mention my tone much yet but did note that for still just starting out my tone is fairly even which will help with future playing.

6. Bowing, I have a lot of work with this area she said.  Mainly just knowing where the bow should be on the down/up bow in relation to the sheet music.  I don't 'wander the bow' much though so she complimented that aspect.

She didn't have to correct anything beyond what's mentioned above, however that was quite a few major things I had to in a way start over with.

My advice after starting with a private teacher is, if you're teaching yourself pay VERY close attention to the videos and watch them several times.  Mirrors and webcams are your best friend as they help you note the relation to your bowing and your holds.  Beyond that, practice, practice and more practice.  When frustration kicks in (and it will) breathe DEEP and remember, you're learning because you love the sound of your violin and the gorgeous tones it WILL produce as you get better :) !

 

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Picklefish
Merritt Island, Fla
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January 24, 2013 - 10:10 am
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Robyn.fnq said
Thanks for starting this thread RosinedUp, I'm sure we all have something to try and unlearn.

For me, the worst thing I just cannot stop doing is left thumb squeeze.  I start off watching it and it's all relaxed and cool, and after looking back to the sheet music it's got it's squeeze up again.  Along with that, if I'm deliberately relaxing and watching it, often my whole left hand starts to drift and suddenly I'm another half centimetre up the fingerboard.

I know the old advice ... practise practise practise ... but I've been doing that for over a year now.

Anyone?

beg

Memorize the music so you dont have to use brain power to concentrate on that, play slower focusing on hand posistion and fingerings, dont push the violin into the neck while holding it, the left hand is for support only. Practising is good, practising wrong only enforces the wrong. Slow and focused is the way. I have to remind myself of that often. I am experiencing left hand creep as well. lol usually when my hand gets to rockin and rollin on fast tunes. its a prob of the bicept trying to keep the violin pressed up against the neck. you have to learn to let go. use the force.

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

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Mad_Wed
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January 29, 2013 - 6:13 pm
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Left hand death-grip! Still have it! Still working on it!

Left hand flying high fingers! Still have it! Still working on it! - this one is undefeatablefacepalm

roflol

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Composer
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February 3, 2013 - 11:44 pm
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Mistake: Thought the drilling of scales and arpeggios would take me far.  Dropped this programme for the time being to focus on technical issues.

Unlearned: Its not that I was doing something completely wrong, its just that I didn't appreciate the subtlety of some property such as "Drawing a straight bow" that I thought was decent when in fact it was poor upon closer examination.  Other properties (such as light finger pressure in the left hand) weren't even being examined and improved upon at all.  Especially important neglected problem was a smooth bow change.

So instead of the plan: Scale System --> Wohlfahrt --> Kreutzer -->Repertoire

I added a lower level below Scale System, calling it Technique

 

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Picklefish
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February 4, 2013 - 6:28 am
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@Composer- you will improve greatly with your ability to self critique and your determination to make the changes that make you a better player, thank you for sharing.

As far as the scales go, I find that playing the etudes and studies that apply to the specific piece of music I want to learn is more efficient than say just working through the Wohlfahrt or Kreutzer book front to back. In the majority of the music I play I am finding that the staccato variations, slurs and combinations of the two ie staccato slurs, is what is played most. So those are the things I practice most technique wise, above the basics (PBID) that is.

What are you doing to practice straight bowing? Light finger pressure? and smooth bow changes?

Ive attached a sample of the music we just performed at last fridays concert. I hope it shows, its a pdf.

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

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DanielB
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February 4, 2013 - 12:56 pm
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At less than a year of self-taught so far, I am not sure as I have actually learned much of anything.  LOL

But there has been one thing I should have known from playing guitar that seems to bear out as also being a mistake in learning to play violin.  I had been trying, from fairly early on, to keep my thumb in exactly the same place on the back of the neck.  Like on an invisible line going the length of the neck that it should stay on as one moves up and down.  

I worked on doing that with guitar for about 15 years before it was pointed out to me that it is better for the left thumb to be fluid in it's position and to be wherever it needs to be for the fingers to get where they need to go.  It helped a lot with my guitar playing, since without keeping the thumb relaxed and mobile as regards the radius of the back neck, then fingers have to strain and reach more than they should.  So I should have known it would end up being similar for violin.  LOL

So for the past few months I have been somewhat re-learning some things and trying to be less rigid about that fact of the left hand when playing.  I think it is helping. 

"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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