Hello! My son enjoys playing the violin and is an accelerated student. He has played for about two years. He would like some advice on the double stops section in Russian Fantasy by Leo Portnoff, which he has complained to me are virtuoso double stops! He struggles with pitch problems on the double stops but just in specific areas. I think he plays the piece really beautifully. Thanks very much in advance.
Do you have a video of him playing it? It will be a lot easier to critique exactly what he's doing if you post a video....however I think more experienced players might be able to explain it a bit better. I'm a bit to beginner to help with double stops. Good luck
Lead me, Follow me, or get out of my way!
~General George S. Patton
I've been playing a bit over a year, and I'm pretty sure your son is well ahead of where I'll be at 2 years.
Perhaps because I don't know the piece that well, I can't hear where the double-stops are off, but I know from my own playing that the player often notices intonation problems that nobody else but an expert does. We have a few experts on here, but most of us are beginners, many self-taught, so don't get your hopes up too high for expert advice.
I will pass on what my teacher has told me for every playing problem - slow it down until you know exactly what you're going to do next. Play it slow enough that each thing you do is easy. Play it that speed a few times, then start speeding it up, but still slowly enough that it's easy. Remarkably quickly, you'll find that you're playing it at (or close to) the speed that you want to play it at. (He doesn't need to play the whole piece at that speed, just the troublesome bits and a measure or two of introduction to them.)
The hard part is not mastering the techniques. The hard part is mastering yourself enough to take it as slowly as you need to, when a part of you is yammering "You should be able to..." and whatever it's claiming. Overcoming that little (but sometimes loud) voice of self-doubt and self-criticism and do what's needed to get past the current hurdle is one of the tougher things humans have to master. (A great many of us don't ever manage it.)
That's really good advice, it has been difficult for him to play slower,which I really think would improve the sections he is concerned about. He is 13 and defaulted to speed mode. When learning a new piece, we try to watch as many performers play the same piece on YouTube, pick our favorite and try to listen out for phrasing, dynamics and tone and try to copy. We have been really fortunate that he has a really strong affinity towards music and would like to be a professional violinist some day. Until then it is lessons, practice and more practice.
I will let Christopher know to dissect the double stops, thanks very much. We live in North Port, Sarasota County, about 40 minutes away from Sarasota. I try to get him involved in after school activities to help develop his playing. He is part of the Sarasota Youth Orchestra, in the first of the two advanced youth groups. As a professional musician yourself, I am hoping you would have some advice for us, is it okay for me to message you? Thanks so much!!
Thanks Uzi, I Iove the sound of the violin so I try to get him to practice more ?. I also make recordings so we can go back to them and show him what he needs to work on and so he can also see his own progress.
There are still a couple spots that he still needs to work on but it sounds much better.
I made a recording of Christopher playing Czardas yesterday which I am attaching. Some time back, we printed the music sheet off imslp and he worked on it by himself. His teacher works on one song for weeks and sometimes months and he gets bored and starts wanting to play something else by himself. Is this okay or will he learn the wrong things that will be hard to undo?
I think he has a really nice tone, someone told me that his perfect pitch helps him to do this.
Any suggestions on what he can do so that the fast sections go smoother? Having only played the violin since April 2015, there are still techniques he hasn't learned yet, so sometimes he makes it up to make it work.
Fiddlerman, we watched your Czardas performance and really enjoyed how you changed it up. Christopher is a fan of changing things up. ?
If the teacher is not happy with how he's playing a song or a section of the song, he needs to tell Christopher what's wrong. There's no point whatsoever in him playing the same thing over and over with no feedback as to whether its right or wrong.
Generally, no - it doesn't hurt a thing to play something else, and it if keeps him interested in the violin instead of getting bored with it, then it's a good thing. If it means he's practicing what he should be 20% of the time instead of 100% of his practice time, that's less good.
My teacher teaches me techniques. He uses songs to do it, but pretty much every song he's given me is for a specific purpose - they're not chosen at random.
Back to the playing other things - he won't hurt his playing any by playing other songs. He might if he tries to invent new techniques. So as long as he sticks to playing new songs with the techniques he knows, he should be fine.
By the way, is he taking private lessons, or in a group?
On what he has been given, he does get feedback. He has technique books that he is learning from,and given exercises from them. He works on them like he is supposed to, but doesn't take him long and passes them the next time. They are mainly short little passages with emphasis on a particular technique. He gets bored and we start looking for other songs to play. Unfortunately the teacher does not encourage this when we have tried to share with her what we do in addition to what he was given. He is given one song at a time to work on for a long time until it sounds near perfect. So, to maintain his interest I find other tunes for him to play on his own.
Something about Christopher, music is a big part of his makeup. Other than the violin, he is also an advanced piano student and composes by ear. Tunes for piano and violin that he can actually play. He started composing on pieces of paper six months after taking piano lessons and has graduated to Finale Songwriter. He loves being in recitals on stage which has been surprising as he isn't outgoing. He does take private lessons.
I haven't participated in a forum like this before, it is nice to be part of a forum with other violin players.
Say "Well done on Czardas" to Christopher !
@lynnetan you said "I haven't participated in a forum like this before, it is nice to be part of a forum with other violin players."
It is nice indeed. Obviously we have players of varied age and ability and genre, with many beginners as well. The overall general support, feedback, genuine interest and constructive critique from others is worth more than words can say !
I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes. D'oh -
Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)