I recently did my introduction post in the share a video topic.. so instead of continuing there, I decided to move over to the critique corner.
So.. today is the 1 week 'anniversary' of me laying my hands on a violin for the first time. During this past week I've been practicing quite a bit, doing all sorts of stuff.. Generally speaking I have my violin right next to my desk on the couch so I pretty much pick it up every time I have a few minutes of idle time
This is a video of me attempting vibrato... Keep in mind that the 'instrument' still has the old strings and nylon-hair bow along with bridge issues so I have to play very close to the bridge, otherwise there's no way of not hitting other strings. I tried shaving off the bridge and cutting some grooves for the strings to make my own curve.. which slightly improved things (previously I simply couldn't use the A and E strings, now I can), but I'm still waiting on my new bridge, strings and bow to arrive
I might post some more videos along the way (maybe even today as there is a tune I'm working on), but let me know what you think.. Currently I think the main problem is that the spray paint job the violin has on the back of the neck really causes a lot of friction and even if I barely support it with my fingers, it just doesn't slide at all and causes more instrument movement than normal. That and the fact that I'm still using a sponge as a shoulder rest so I can't even counteract it.. haha.
Allright so after an hour or so of repeatedly attempting to record this... turns out I'm slightly camera-shy... (hence why I'm not so happy in the video).. since I could play this pretty well even at a slightly faster tempo (and have been doing so all day) when not infront of a camera, but every time I hit that record button I suddenly tensed up and made all kinds of weird movements...
Anyway I was trying to do the challenge from "the online violin tutor's" lessons, since that seemed like a really nice song she wrote for beginners (called Gypsy Firelight), plus the backing track kinda makes it more fun so I thought I'd give it a shot..
So this is the latest attempt I made at recording it... enjoy (that means cover your ears and hide your cats)
You're doing very well I'll leave the vibrato for more experienced players to check up on.
One main thing I see, is your left wrist is collapsing, and you won't want that to become a habit. (for myself I know it would just hurt if I tried playing like that) If you look at how your left wrist looks at the beginning of your middle video, that is how you want it to stay Nice and straight
Oh, and being camera shy I think is totally normal. I'm still camera shy and my technique and overall playing starts to fall apart in front of a camera. But recording yourself is a great tool for looking for areas to work on. I did it a lot in the beginning, and wish I kept up with it more now.
Keep up the good work
World's Okayest Fiddler
Thanks for the reply
You're absolutely right! Nice catch.. I picked up my violin to see what's up and indeed when using my 3rd finger my wrist is kinda flexing backwards.. I think it might be due to the sponge I have as a shoulder rest, since it allows for some springiness so I'm kinda trying to help out with supporting the violin with the inside of my wrist. I'm going to try to pay attention to that and see if it disappears once my proper shoulder rest arrives.
Also I agree with the recording.. it's just that I 'promised' it here so I was really desperate to make it and probably way more nervous than I should've been... However it did its job since I watched it again and was wondering why I still have that 'sawing' motion... even though I thought I got rid of it.. then I noticed I never really use the upper part of my bow and use it only up to the point where my elbow should start straightening.. Since I rarely go past that point I'm compensating a bit more with the shoulder to keep the 'lazy' faster string crosses.. (which obviously don't work since they're less precise the closer to the frog you play, especially with this violin bridge since it only gives you a very small range where you can avoid hitting other strings)
So here's one more for good measure!
Tried using the upper part of my bow slightly more... and removed the makeshift shoulder rest, so the violin doesn't have anything on the bottom except for the 3 rubber bands
It seems to be more visually pleasing than the ones before, however my bow tends not to make a sound from time to time no matter how much I rosin it (probably that's what you get with nylon hair... ) Anyway... I'm trying to ignore the silly sounds and focusing more on the movements. At this point I'm pretty confident I could play this in a fairly decent way on a proper violin
What do you think?
You're doing good I think when you get a shoulder rest you'll notice a difference in your left hand, you won't feel the need to try and support your violin with it like you said you feel like you do now You can always work your way back to playing without one if that's your goal, but starting out it can help a lot in taking away one extra thing to think about (keeping the violin from sliding or falling).
World's Okayest Fiddler
Well, sort of
They are two distinct orders.. I placed an order for a master violin entirely handcrafted by a master luthier from some maple that has been drying since 87 :)) (yea a whoopping 30 years). For that one I ordered their master bow and a hard case as well to go along with it.. It's supposed to look something like this once ready (picture from their website)
However once I found out that it could take up to 2-3 months for it to be ready, I decided I would try to upgrade this cheap Stagg violin so that it'll be somewhat usable until I get the new one..
So for this one I ordered a shoulder rest (which I can use with the new one afterwards), a new bow (that didn't say, but I'm hoping it will have horse-hair), a set of pirastro tonica strings, a bridge blank (which I'm going to attempt at fitting) and some Thomastik dark rosin. However some of these weren't available immediately so it's now delaying my entire order.. Should arrive next week thou.
In the meantime I'm just trying really hard not to get demotivated by the sounds I hear
(I assume that's your first name - if you're from one of the cultures that puts family name first, then personal name, let me know, and I'll get it right next time.)
This is the promised version to replace the one that got eaten.
First go round is based on the second video (the first playing of Gypsy Firelight):
First, use more bow per note. Even on a Vaguely-Violin-Shaped-Monstrosity like you've got right now, that will improve your tone. On short notes, you're not going to use anything like the whole bow, but the advice my teacher gives me is "use a little more bow than you're comfortable with".
Second, try to keep the contact point more constant. I just watched a DVD I got on tone production last night, and it said that tone boils down to three things in the right proportion - point of contact, bow speed, and bow pressure. For each contact point, there's an ideal speed and pressure (somewhat different for each string). If you watch where the bow is contacting the string, you'll see it wanders a good bit. That means that even if you know what speed and pressure are best, it won't do you any good half the time, because you're not on the same contact point. That's related to...
Third, your upper arm is moving forward and back. You want to minimize that, ideally eliminate it. (Depending on how you hold your violin and how long your arms are, you may have to move the upper arm forward to get the last few inches near the frog. Whether that few inches is worth the arm movement.... hard to call.) (Something else I saw on that video challenged that, but I'll save that discussion for another day.)
The object is to have the bow go up and down in a straight line, parallel to the bridge. That will keep you on whatever contact point you've chosen, for one, and a slanted bow pulls the strings in odd ways that show up as poor(er) tone.
Finally, on vibrato - try putting the violin on the pad of your thumb, rather than in the crook between the thumb and the forefinger. That will move the rest of your hand away from the fingerboard, making it much easier to move it back and forth. From what I've observed in others, it shouldn't be centered under then neck, but a bit to the left (bass) side. that way, if it should fall off your thumb (not as likely as it will feel at first), it will fall into the crook where you're playing it now. (Although with the Monstrosity, maybe you should put the thumb on the right side.... If so, I'd recommend the Fiddlerman Apprentice as a "get you by until the good one gets here" instrument. It's a very nice instrument for the money.) I'm kidding about killing El Monstruo. I'm actually quite impressed with what you've been able to pull out of it.
And thanks for the question, because until I thought of mentioning that, it hadn't consciously occurred to me that I had to rotate my hand around my thumb when doing vibrato. That made the pattern make a lot more sense. (Not that I can do it yet. On a scale of 1-10 for dexterity and coordination (10 being good), I weigh in about 0.4. )
Oh, forgot one bit from that video I meant to mention since you said you have to play near the bridge.
Near the bridge, you want (comparatively) slow bow speed, but high pressure. Right next to the fingerboard is the exact opposite - very light pressure, high bow speed.
Playing next to the bridge, if you move the bow too slow, you'll get a very distinctive crunching sound. (Try it on purpose - it's hard to miss.) However, if you go too fast (or too light), you'll ALSO get bad noises, more like a whistling. The trick they talked about for finding the ideal combo is to watch the vibration of the string. The combination of speed and pressure that results in the widest swing of the string when it's vibrating it the ideal one for tone, for that contact point.
I forgot to mention that, too. They break the area between the bridge and the end of the fingerboard up into 5 zones, each about the width of the bow hair. #1 is next to the bridge, #5 next to the fingerboard. Each zone/contact point per string has an ideal speed and pressure. (And as you finger notes, that combo shifts a little. By the time you get an octave up, it's shifted quite a bit, but save that for a rainy day a couple of months from now.)
It's a Hungarian name, so while normally you'd be right and it would be the other way around, whenever I use English speaking websites I switch it up preemptively to the correct English form, so you nailed it Ferenc is my first name (Now I hope I got your tag right though, since usernames and display names seem to be all mashed up and I never know if I'm tagging the right person)
Thanks for all the helpful tips.
Yes, I did watch some videos about contact points and how you should bow at each one, now... applying them in practice is still another matter
But yea, about half or more of my current problems are due to technical issues with that violin shaped object. Even trying to get a proper sound out of it requires a great deal of concentration, which causes me to get frustrated and lose track of the other things I'm supposed to be paying attention to.
Will update this thread once my first order arrives with the strings and bow and I'll see how it goes from there..
Cheers and thanks again for the feedback!
Okay so here's one more...
Just because I got a new webcam and figured it would be a legit 'excuse' to practice with this thing, even though my new strings / bow / etc still haven't arrived yet (which kinda made me go all lazy in the past few days)
Anyway.. I gave a shot at bonny portmore.. at least the part I remembered from long ago.. Not sure if it even resembles the song since I haven't heard it in a while lol and did this by ear at first..
Thank you Pierre
I'm trying... I do have some shoulder pain though from when I used to do judo as a kid / teen so it's kind of 'demanding' holding my elbow / upper arm out like I'm supposed to (if I rotate my shoulder it pretty much makes the same crackling noise as stepping on fresh snow.. or or.. taking a bite out of a well made toast.. ooor.. you get the picture lol) so that may or may not have something to do with it...
But, nothing I can't handle...
Thanks for the badge! Also I downloaded the sheet for Eleanor Rigby and started working on that, will make a video once it's 'decent' enough and I'll update the thread (I like using this thread as a progress tracker if you don't mind... helps with motivation )
Actually... I couldn't resist
So here's me hacking at it 10 minutes after making the previous post...
Hopefully with some more practice I won't look like a policeman trying to control traffic in an intersection when doing those faster string-crossings I think it's a decent first try at recording it even though I forgot the ending completely.... so just played something