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My Journey with My Violin Since May 1716.
A probably unusual way to learn improvising via baroque play-alongs.
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MACJR
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But then again, one of my sisters looks very French.

MACJR

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Demoiselle
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MACJR said
But then again, one of my sisters looks very French.
MACJR  

Wait, there's someone doing kinda wah-wah effect, altering the two As!

Here's my commenting it:

Ah, you're using the 4th finger kinda like in a Mexican hat dance, where the trombonists mute their horns with their hats whenever your 4th finger hits the A on the D string! Tomorrow I will try that wah-wah effect, maybe it will make me like that darkish 4th finger A a little better. My new teacher couldn't make me like it yet. :'(

My violin is a 3/4 violin, made for right-handed players, though I play it left-handed. As I felt she was the best in the shop of all 3/4 violins I tried and the luthier agreed. I prefer Obligato strings together with Eudoxa E string.

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Demoiselle
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I did the wah-wah thing, altering open A with A on the G string in an Aebersold jazz play-along and there it's very interesting. It was a very slow jazz waltz. In baroque, which I mostly play, I cannot use those dark sounds, unless I want to trill on A as higher note. For example trilling with A and G on the D string: There that D string A is very welcome. Same goes for D on G string and E on A string. That E is not all that bad, but nobody will talk me out of preferring that wonderfully silvery open E. Right now legato is no counter-argument until I possibly manage to play a plain legato phrase which I like better then involving open E. I can tie that open E to a phrase which started on the A string, it just has a different character.

Baroque was a period tending upwards, like middle-age gothic style. And both, gothic and baroque music tend to light and clear sounds. Very different from the music of the romantic era, which tended to earthy dark. Baroque is tending upwards to the light. In the 20th century they mostly played baroque music with orchestras which were equipped and manned for music of the late 1800s. Part of it was sustained vibrato too.

I tested the same A even on the G string. There it's darker still and reminds me of a honking car. So yesterday I was honking on that G string A and found it very funny. Maybe with a vibrato it sounds okay in music of the late romantic period? Like people don't drink coke non-carbonated.

My violin is a 3/4 violin, made for right-handed players, though I play it left-handed. As I felt she was the best in the shop of all 3/4 violins I tried and the luthier agreed. I prefer Obligato strings together with Eudoxa E string.

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Demoiselle
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A couple days ago Fiddlerman reminded somebody to lean a little forward while performing. At the same time ENSEMBLE CLEMATIS "loved" my slanted comment from 8 months ago:

I got to know Legrenzi just a couple weeks ago, when I bought the CD VERSO VENETIA, by Pallade Musica. I found it very exciting, there's no vibrato at all to hear! Here it seems to be the same case: I didn't hear or see any vibrato. It means a lot to me, because I hate vibrato and I don't want to do it on the violin.

Watching the same video again the forward leaning relaxation of the players struck me like an epiphany.

How could I "hate" 8 months ago, just after watching this video? But then I recalled, that in the meantime I have managed to rid myself from vocal vibrato while preparing for my December concert.

Thank you for "loving" my terribly slanted comment from 8 months ago. 🙂 That's how I found this video again, which is very important to me right now! At the same time they warn me to more relax and lean a little forward. And it's really that a little forward leaning relaxation which is characterizing the mood of this recording. That's how beautiful music is being created--there's soooo much to learn here and I'm supposed to watch this every day.... Being slanted and hating was obviously part of my stylistic struggle 8 months ago. I'm not just playing the violin, but also sing, but my teacher was an opera singer and vibrato was a big part of what he taught. Then I made some money as trombonist and crooner of a swing combo for many years. After all that it is very hard to rid yourself from vibrato. In the meantime I had a little concert in early December and during preparation managed to avoid vibrato way better (just sometimes I mess up in this matter), so I'm not all that slanted anymore. Improvisation is very easy to me, but this does not help while struggling with undoing old habits in music. But you don't look like people who would hate in any way in your peacefully forward leaning relaxation. This kind of forward leaning peace shall influence my mind too. Hopefully taking the "hate" from 8 months ago back. Demoiselle

I had to work on my style to free myself of hate. But maybe there was no other way but hating 8 months ago, because it gave me the necessary energy to rid myself of vibrato. Changing how to hold the instrument and finger technique is way easier than these subtle stylistic questions.

On another YouTube page I had a fierce fight and it also was about vibrato. Somebody lamented:

"I been playing 5 years and still dont know how to do a vibrato :(("

I then tried to explain, that vibrato is not necessarily a need in music, again expressing that I don't like vibrato. Suddenly a young guy chimed in with "what the fuck" etc., trying to state that vibrato is supposed to be a big part of music in general. Of course I returned the fire right away and he had to give up his position. My last comment then was balanced and did the history of vibrato in music some justice. The message is like: Let's give vibrato a little chance, it is not all that bad.

I did not say "vibrato is outdated" in the first place! I was just returning the fire. 😉 Bossing me usually gets very difficult for any kind of a tyrant. I love to be tolerant, but I can fake being intolerant.... Actually I could say as well: "Declaring vibrato outdated is outdated." Since we live in post-modern time and modern jazz isn't really modern anymore. Charlie Parker died already in the 50s! 70s jazz would be funk jazz, like Freddy Hubbard. In the late 70s I liked and played old-fashioned 20s jazz, in the 80s it was swing with lots of whiny, mushy Hollywood clishes. I was a stupid chick then and shed tears over old sappy films. But actually it's ALL okay--everybody should do what they love, which includes vibrato. Many people vibrate on their violin, dreaming of true love and happiness. Reality is different, but let them play the old game, enjoying being young. Being young is also lots of pain as I remember and older people don't want that any more. Have fun vibrating your violin!

I was afterwards thinking some more of our post-modern era. It is a blessing to live in this rich time, where anything is accepted. People can vibrate o non-vibrate and there are so my musical styles to choose. Nobody can comprehend all that in just one human lifetime, but it's good to see, there's so much richness out there.

Another aspect I've been thinking about was the weepiness of the romantic generation of the 1800s in Germany. In nicer words it was melancholia, which also was part of love matters between men and women. I think in this sense of time (it was downright fashion) sustained vibrato came up. And it became general standard in the early 1900s. What Gershwin, Porter, Kern etc. created was a romantic revival, which is a big part of Hollywood movies from the 30s and 40s. This Hollywood music style indeed cannot exist without vibrato.

In the meantime I know, vibrato not even belongs into Mozart's music--that's very clear. But I still have to find out, where exactly sustained vibrato started in the 1800s. I have some theories, but no certainty. I roughly assume it was after 1850. Another impression I have is, that there probably have always been some interprets who were tending to overdo vibrato--possibly especially in France. There are quite some hints, this was (partly!) even part of Lully's operas already in the 1600s.

My violin is a 3/4 violin, made for right-handed players, though I play it left-handed. As I felt she was the best in the shop of all 3/4 violins I tried and the luthier agreed. I prefer Obligato strings together with Eudoxa E string.

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Demoiselle
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During the last lesson my teacher pressed on my middle-knuckle, warning my bow hold wasn't relaxed. It probably was not, but how can one press down it while the joint is bent? This weekend I'm focusing on a Wet Towel Bow Hold, which sounds very crazy. There are people who have a handshake like a wet towel and I am trying to adapt to the stage of being relaxed while holding the bow. BUT: nonetheless you cannot move the knuckle down--it's physically just not possible! So I guess I have a teacher who is very pedantic who at times expects too much. But she's worth it to deal with that--maybe she will learn a bit too....

The technique she taught me is basically correct. I now look like all the other violin players on YouTube who learned it properly in the first place. If I now watch Fidderman's videos it looks like something I'm familiar with. Before, all the violin players looked alien to me. But if I now watch videos from my last year's open stage performances (I don't load those up, they just zoom too close on my face and I don't want that in public) I can't help laughing. To me it now looks like I'm moving a huge cooking spoon in a huge field kitchen. 😀

I mean, the sound on my December concert wasn't too bad. How in the world did I do that for 2 hours with my weird old technique? I'm really wondering now. I guess it was just concentrated willpower which managed to overcome the technically impossible obstacle.I guess me and my teacher really fit, for I'm also painstakingly meticulous.

My violin is a 3/4 violin, made for right-handed players, though I play it left-handed. As I felt she was the best in the shop of all 3/4 violins I tried and the luthier agreed. I prefer Obligato strings together with Eudoxa E string.

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Today was the fourth violin lesson and I'm very impressed. She's simply a wonderful teacher and I'm very happy. 🙂

My violin is a 3/4 violin, made for right-handed players, though I play it left-handed. As I felt she was the best in the shop of all 3/4 violins I tried and the luthier agreed. I prefer Obligato strings together with Eudoxa E string.

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MACJR
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One day, I may see about budgeting in a few lessons. It will be a while yet though.

At least my bowing is getting better. Playing is starting to get easier for me now.

MACJR

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Fiddlerman
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February 28, 2017 - 11:06 am
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Very happy to hear it Demoiselle. 🙂

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

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Fiddlerman said
Very happy to hear it Demoiselle. 🙂  

On the whole it took me exactly 6 weeks to fully get back to my fluency of late December. At times I was desperate I have to admit--being held up and seemingly having to go back months was tough on my motivation. But after all it didn't take months, but just 6 weeks.

The positions of fingerboard hand and bow hand had to be changed radically, and I had to learn finger legato which was new to me. Now she wants not only my palm to lead the movement of my bow hand downwards, she also wants my fingers to do their part in this. Her bow hand looks flexible like a snake when she demonstrates it--as if her arm had countless little joints between elbow and fingertips. I came to the conclusion, if I can't do it perfectly like she does, this is no drama. But she really expects a lot!

My violin is a 3/4 violin, made for right-handed players, though I play it left-handed. As I felt she was the best in the shop of all 3/4 violins I tried and the luthier agreed. I prefer Obligato strings together with Eudoxa E string.

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Fiddlerman
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Good luck on changing your bow hold and movement as effortlessly as possible.

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

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Fiddlerman said
Good luck on changing your bow hold and movement as effortlessly as possible.  

Regarding what the fingers of the bow hand do, it seems teachers aren't preaching all the same. What I've seen on YouTube partly differs a lot. Some lift the index finger when the bow is up, others move their knuckles up and down. I think nothing should be forced. If I technically try to put something on, this will not be naturally relaxed. I will constantly invite my fingers to be flexible and relaxed, but I patiently wait for them. I do not think they must—they may. The word "must" is negative vocabulary and never good remedy against clenching. In fact it is mental clenching in itself.

So my teacher absolutely hates to see my knuckles up and she wants them all flat. She even pressed on my knuckles to move them down. At home I started to play with knuckles down, but they soon come up again. My solution is, to practice the up and down change. The easier this transition works, the better. Then my fingers can find the ideal middle street.

My violin is a 3/4 violin, made for right-handed players, though I play it left-handed. As I felt she was the best in the shop of all 3/4 violins I tried and the luthier agreed. I prefer Obligato strings together with Eudoxa E string.

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It could be a problem when teachers want everyone to do exactly the same as they themselves do. I've studied with some great teachers and they differ from one another. The best is to do what she wants when you are with her and to take the things that work the best for you and keep them. The things that do not work are not necessarily best for you. 🙂
Good luck with this!

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

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Demoiselle
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Fiddlerman said
It could be a problem when teachers want everyone to do exactly the same as they themselves do. I've studied with some great teachers and they differ from one another. The best is to do what she wants when you are with her and to take the things that work the best for you and keep them. The things that do not work are not necessarily best for you. 🙂
Good luck with this!  

In a way my teacher is pedantic. I was supporting my violin on the ball of my hand while  resting and talking (like everybody does). She told me not to do it, in order to not teach a wrong fingerboard hold to my body. The last time I did this had been summer 2015--I do it just while resting! I won this debate and I had to because this was unacceptable. Which is easy in my case since I'm close to the 60 and she's in her mid-30s.

Mostly I avoid exercising my authority that way. She wanted me to have my wrist à 100 percent straight and I tried hard. It had been bent just a little bit towards the snail. I tried hard and after a couple days emailed her it was not right for me. My fingers have optimal mobility if the wrist is a bit bent, anything else is brutality to my body. She accepted that right away. Presently we have the same conflict concerning my knuckles she wants to see flat. It is comfortable for my hand if they are not, I have to use some force to make them flat and that's not relaxed at all. Now I've told her, my knuckles may be flat if they want to and it just happens, but it very much would look like they won't. Well, she's sweet as ever. 😉 I've radically changed the basic bow hold and the fingering technique on the fingerboard--as she had taught me. Which now boosts me a lot. Right now there's lots of progress and she's glad.

She's far from being bitchy. My theory is, she was tortured a lot herself, when she learned and later studied at a college at age 13 (!). But she's very caring and generous. When she taught me finger legato, she reminded me, to not just practice the scales, but also integrate it into improvisation, because "you MUST express yourself" (!!). That's her huge upside. She had studied classical music and afterwards again studied jazz and composition. I can give her chords and she will accompany my violin right away at the keyboard. She knows what I need to grow, what's really important to me. During the first lesson she accepted my 3/4 violin and even my self-made bow! She said she finds it very interesting that I play a right-hander violin left, because it's different. G and D string are close to my bow hand and this probably effects the sound.

So you see, she's open-minded and likes the unusual. If I by the way help her to find new ways to teach younger students more unconstrained it would be great.

My violin is a 3/4 violin, made for right-handed players, though I play it left-handed. As I felt she was the best in the shop of all 3/4 violins I tried and the luthier agreed. I prefer Obligato strings together with Eudoxa E string.

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Sounds like you have a nice teacher 🙂 

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damfino said
Sounds like you have a nice teacher 🙂   

...who also perfectly matches my needs with her skills and experiences. I've been looking for a teacher for a whole year--when I read her bio I knew at once : she's it.

My violin is a 3/4 violin, made for right-handed players, though I play it left-handed. As I felt she was the best in the shop of all 3/4 violins I tried and the luthier agreed. I prefer Obligato strings together with Eudoxa E string.

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MACJR said
But then again, one of my sisters looks very French.
MACJR  

I do now practice in higher positions. Not that I changed my opinion and and now would like them, it's just to make the fingers stronger. I had a bit response problems especially on D-string G, which didn't respond as well as for example D-string E. The G# on the fourth finger was even more a problem, which was the main reason why I gave in to my teacher and started practicing 4th finger D and A. If I can play those notes, G and G# or D and D# will respond easier. My teacher doesn't know yet, but I'm now practicing over all positions: This improves respond issues on the 4th finger and the better those respond, the better G and D will respond. I think it's the right time now after my fingers got stronger already, to give them more of a challenge and make them stronger still. Violin playing might sound gentle but I learn it's really about muscular strength. The stronger and tougher hands evolve the better.

I guess my teacher will be glad after I first said no to higher positions and vibrato. Vibrato will probably be the very last step.

My violin is a 3/4 violin, made for right-handed players, though I play it left-handed. As I felt she was the best in the shop of all 3/4 violins I tried and the luthier agreed. I prefer Obligato strings together with Eudoxa E string.

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MACJR
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Demoiselle said

I do now practice in higher positions. Not that I changed my opinion and and now would like them, it's just to make the fingers stronger. I had a bit response problems especially on D-string G, which didn't respond as well as for example D-string E. The G# on the fourth finger was even more a problem, which was the main reason why I gave in to my teacher and started practicing 4th finger D and A. If I can play those notes, G and G# or D and D# will respond easier. My teacher doesn't know yet, but I'm now practicing over all positions: This improves respond issues on the 4th finger and the better those respond, the better G and D will respond. I think it's the right time now after my fingers got stronger already, to give them more of a challenge and make them stronger still. Violin playing might sound gentle but I learn it's really about muscular strength. The stronger and tougher hands evolve the better.

I guess my teacher will be glad after I first said no to higher positions and vibrato. Vibrato will probably be the very last step.  

Sorry I did not get to this post earlier, I had several things going on that put me in another emotional place for a while. I also needed to do emergency computer maintenance after one of my better PC's died. I had to build a replacement for it (an even better PC). And now I am working on my family history project (this eats up a lot of time, all by itself).

Also, I had taken a bit more than a month off from playing after my mother was diagnosed with cancer, and then died soon after that, but I have been working to get back up to speed lately.

I am almost back to full speed, and playing skill, from where I left off. I am still working to smooth out the bowing again, but I am also moving forward into harder lessons from the book. Some of those more advanced lessons require higher position notes. So I hear you about needing to build up strength, although my hands are not weak. Although my hands are strong, they also need to be limber in the right ways to reach those notes. I will require more practice to get better at those higher notes.

I am now a bit more than a month behind where I wanted to be by now, but at least I am working to build my playing skills again.

I hope your lessons are still going well for you.

MACJR

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To me it looks like strong hands can lack the ability to have the very special quality of strength you need for the violin. Hands, arms, muscles etc. have to adapt  to what is required for that and this takes time.

In the meantime I have electrified my 79.00 € first violin to have an distorted guitar. I bought a BOSS DS1 pedal for it. I feel like stuffing that old violin with cotton swabs to kill the acoustic sound. Maybe it's a good idea to cut down the sound post too? I want plain guitar sound but what I hear directly from the instrument must stop.

My violin is a 3/4 violin, made for right-handed players, though I play it left-handed. As I felt she was the best in the shop of all 3/4 violins I tried and the luthier agreed. I prefer Obligato strings together with Eudoxa E string.

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Demoiselle said
To me it looks like strong hands can lack the ability to have the very special quality of strength you need for the violin. Hands, arms, muscles etc. have to adapt  to what is required for that and this takes time.

In the meantime I have electrified my 79.00 € first violin to have an distorted guitar. I bought a BOSS DS1 pedal for it. I feel like stuffing that old violin with cotton swabs to kill the acoustic sound. Maybe it's a good idea to cut down the sound post too? I want plain guitar sound but what I hear directly from the instrument must stop.  

I use my hands a lot, and am fairly dexterous, but it is taking some work to get my hands trained for playing the violin. Lately, I have been putting intense focus on training my hands to get those notes right, both for fingering, and bowing. That extra focus is starting to pay off, but of course, I still need to keep working at it, to improve more.

I have been working more with scales, freestyle mostly, to nail down the right places for my fingers on the neck, and bow angles that get me the cleanest notes, without rubbing up against one or the other neighboring strings. The D string is still my biggest challenge, but I have made good progress in cleaning that up some.

I have also been more focused on using four finger scales, rather than the beginner three finger scales I started out with.

MACJR

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Charles
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Demoiselle said

In the meantime I have electrified my 79.00 € first violin to have an distorted guitar. I bought a BOSS DS1 pedal for it. I feel like stuffing that old violin with cotton swabs to kill the acoustic sound. Maybe it's a good idea to cut down the sound post too? I want plain guitar sound but what I hear directly from the instrument must stop.  

I'm mildly curious why you don't use a used electric guitar (used cheap ones can be had for a lot less than around 80 €), but...  If you want to kill the acoustic properties of a violin as much as possible, yes, take out the sound post. I'd recommend cloth rags over cotton swabs, but anything flexible that will absorb sound should work.

I don't know what you want this for, but colored rags would give you some options for visual aesthetics, as well as auditory ones.

You'll hear the strings, and that's about all. That will still be louder than an electric guitar, because the the strings are under higher tension. Electric guitar strings are thinner, and tuned to lower notes, so they're under noticeably less tension than violin strings.

Flip side, since it's a fretless instrument, the notes will die out much much faster than they would on an actual guitar except when you're playing open strings. (Your fingertips will act as dampers.)  (I'm assuming you're planning to pluck or strum it, if you're calling it a guitar.)

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