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Starting A New Class
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Rosco
Connecticut
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January 29, 2017 - 11:18 pm
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I'm start a new 12-week class at Manchester College this coming Saturday, Feb. 04. It’s titled “Advanced Strings with Ensemble”. I just picked up the course book and I’m feeling a bit intimidated. It immediately gets into shifting positions, finger patterns and advanced rhythm and bowing studies. There are currently only 5 students signed up for the class, so that might be a good thing. I have a feeling that I’m going to have to increase my daily practice time to keep up with this one.

There is a community orchestra in the next town over from where I live. They accept players from a wide range of playing skill levels. The idea is to give intermediate musicians like myself an opportunity to experience the orchestra and grow with a performing group. They perform for various charitable events in the area. There are about 60-70 members. You don’t really audition. You come and introduce yourself, purchase the sheet music for the pieces they’re currently performing and do your best to assimilate into the appropriate chair. After a few weekly sessions, the conductor will either invite you to stay or make constructive recommendations for areas to study and send you on your way. It’s my goal to do my first “sit in” by the end of 2017 and I’m hoping the class I’m starting and the next ensemble class this fall will help me adequately prepare.

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MACJR
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January 30, 2017 - 12:25 am
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I hope things go the way you want them to go and you achieve your goals.  🙂

There is a part of me that would like to find a small group of people in my area, but I have no desire to be a part of a large orchestra. But it would be nice to find a few people to work with on small projects.

MACJR

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Rosco
Connecticut
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January 30, 2017 - 10:20 am
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MACJR said
I hope things go the way you want them to go and you achieve your goals.  🙂
There is a part of me that would like to find a small group of people in my area, but I have no desire to be a part of a large orchestra. But it would be nice to find a few people to work with on small projects.
MACJR  

Thanks. I guess you never know if you don’t try.

 I did small groups for a while, but was invariably the least proficient violin/fiddle player and struggled to keep up. I’d end up playing an instrument that I have more experience with and setting the violin aside. Schedules always seemed to be an issue as well.

I may find that the orchestra is not to my taste either, but I’m looking for a consistent musical community environment and the prospect of being a bit more anonymous while playing, so I can concentrate on blending, sight reading, intonation as well as technique and progress slowly without much of a spotlight.

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MACJR
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January 30, 2017 - 10:33 am
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Rosco said

Thanks. I guess you never know if you don’t try.

 I did small groups for a while, but was invariably the least proficient violin/fiddle player and struggled to keep up.

That would be my most likely issue right now. I am talking about future possibilities for me, not right now. I am clearly not ready to mingle with others just yet.  😉

MACJR

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
January 31, 2017 - 10:42 am
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 11972

Rosco,

Very important to set goals and I think yours is excellent. Let us know if we can help in any way. 🙂

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

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Rosco
Connecticut
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February 5, 2017 - 8:15 pm
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I had my first class yesterday. Talk about cold water in the face. There are 10 of us in the ensemble… 2 cellos, 2 violas and 6 violins. The professor handed out sheets covering 3 short works (1st vn, 2nd vn, va & c) by Handel, Scheidt and an unknown composer. She had us play one right after the other as an ensemble… cold sight reading without any preparatory discussion… ow.

I asked her later if she was trying to thin the pack. She responded that she didn’t expect anybody to do well. She was trying to see who would give up and who would push through. I’m thinking, this is going to be real interesting.

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MrYikes
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February 6, 2017 - 7:58 am
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I hope there was more laughter than tears.

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Fran
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February 6, 2017 - 10:44 am
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@Rosco  glad you're involved in the group!  You'll enjoy it I'm sure and grow in your skills 🙂

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
February 8, 2017 - 8:26 am
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 11972

If you are not used to reading sheet music, ask to get the music in advance whenever possible. Also, try listening to the pieces in advance of the first rehearsal if you can find that information out.

Next, get easy sheet music books and read "real slowly" as practice for sight reading. You can work up the level and speed over time. Fake books are great for this. First thing you should always do is check the time and key signature.

Good luck and do NOT give up!!!

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

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Rosco
Connecticut
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February 25, 2017 - 8:29 pm
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Regrettably, give up is what I just did. I withdrew from the class after 3 weeks. At the start of each class session we were given three new pieces to play together. My skill at just playing a piece cold without an opportunity to look it over first and clear up any rough spots is poor. The other students have been engaged with this type of approach for a while, a couple doing this in parallel with other similar classes.

The stress of trying to read and keep up would totally blow my concentration on tempo, rhythm and other technical aspects… way too much stress. It was beginning to affect my desire to practice or even pick up the instrument. I figured, best to get out.

What I did learn though is that I rely heavily on memorization to the detriment of sight reading… something developed from playing Old Time and Irish tunes. I’m not sure what direction I’ll go from here, but at least I’ll get back to enjoying the time I spend playing tunes by myself.

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Charles
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February 26, 2017 - 12:11 pm
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I hit a rocky patch in my own playing recently, and my teacher reminded me of something I'd known (in my head) for some time, but don't really have in my gut yet.

You have to play slow to play fast.  Specifically, he told me that, when sight-reading, perform the song slow enough that you can look 3-4 notes ahead (and do some planning about how you're going to do them, and to always know what you're going to do next.

That's mean a drastic slowdown on a couple of new pieces that have been giving me grief for weeks, but the improvement in them in just a few days has been considerable.

The more you read music and play it as you're reading it, the better you get at it (just like anything else). If you play from sheet music slowly enough, you'll get it right, and you'll be building your skill at sight-reading.  Once your skill at that is comparable to the rest of the people in the class, you'd probably find it a much more enjoyable experience.

One thing I've found for sight reading. Knowing the note (by name) is useful, but you really want to see the note on the page and know it as X finger on Y string. (Which is a little more complicated once you start shifting, but I haven't gotten there yet, so it's always one note=one spot for me.)  Ideally, you want to know both, but the one thing you want to avoid is making a double-translation.  "That's a middle G, and middle G is 3rd finger on the D string."  I'm trying to get to where both pieces of info (the name and the location) are just "recognized" when I read a piece of music. Like most stuff with violin, it takes patience.

You probably did the right thing (for now) dropping out of the class. If it chases you away from playing, it's obviously not going to improve your playing.

Hope this helps.

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Rosco
Connecticut
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February 26, 2017 - 1:30 pm
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Charles – I appreciate and value your input. Beginning slow and working up to speed in sight reading a piece is pretty much where I am, thus the problem playing new material at full tempo without stopping in an ensemble setting. I would sort of hold my own until we got to areas with multiple hooked bowing and other complexities and then I’d completely loose it.

 I did receive an email from the professor this morning, offering to place me in an intermediate class that focuses less on immediate sight reading and more on various bowing rhythms. I may opt to take that opening and at least stay with some instruction and association with other players.

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Fran
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February 27, 2017 - 10:59 am
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Just want to encourage you.  That was good that you dropped the class and the professor is really nice to offer that other class. But whatever you do I'm glad you're enjoying playing.

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
February 27, 2017 - 11:44 am
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Rosco, anything we can do to encourage you, just let us know. 🙂

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

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