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Mouse's Attempt to Eliminate the Squeaks
(a blog following the maze of learning violin)
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (1 votes) 
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Mouse
July 7, 2021 - 9:19 am
Member Since: December 26, 2018
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I am working hard on my violin, viola will be after. I have tried making myself do lessons systematically, but always go back to playing songs that I can play, not because they are easy, they are not easier than book 1. I am just comfortable with them and they are familiar. I do NOT want to do that. As a result, I am really not getting any better.

Last night, I figured out that, maybe, I need to actually write down what my "Lesson" will be for the week(s), just like when I had lessons. I always need structure in learning. I have not been using a solid structure, I was just telling myself to do this and that. It is kind of hard to explain. I did a class on how you learn, years and years go. The results of this actually fit me to a T. It was kind of fascinating, and I am thinking that it is still applicable to this very day. 

So, I think I am going to set up a week at a time, because I might have to repeat weeks before moving on. I have, I think, 3 systems of books. They seem to follow along with progressing pretty much at the same pace. One does not give much instruction, but will provide additional songs to include with lessons, Suzuki, of course.

My plan is to choose one book to use as the main lesson book, and add a song from the other two books to the other book. If the main book has quite a few songs for that lesson, I will not add to it. Or, if the songs in the chosen lesson system, are too simple for that lesson, I will swap out.

I am going to plan the lesson and songs before starting. I am not going to just sit down and then decide. I think this will give me more structure.

When doing the lesson, I will have my notepad for questions, jotting down issues, etc so that I can work on those during the week. I will not move on until I am ready.

So, that is my plan. I am not satisfied with my lack of consistent correct intonation and my skating, and bouncing bow. By skating I mean, the bow at the bridge, bow at the middle, bow at the fingerboard because I am not moving my arm/wrist properly. I know how it is to be done, but when I actually play, and not practicing the movement, it is all out the window.

I am hoping this will help.

The Bumblebee Flies!

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Gordon Shumway
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July 7, 2021 - 10:04 am
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I kept a practice diary during my first year.

A5, page a day. It was very useful initially, but I haven't even opened this year's one yet. I often try to plan long-term progress (2 years ahead), so that I have a rough idea of what pieces I want to be playing and when, to stretch myself.

Trouble is, since I'm always stretching myself, I'm always bad, and morale can suffer that way, so I revisit easier stuff. I opened a thread about lockdown blues last year. I think it was a book of easy melodic Dancla studies that revivified me. Recently I've discovered the joys of Wohlfahrt. 

It never harms to play something expressive like Somewhere over the Rainbow every now and then. It's only as easy as you make it. Pour on expression by the bucketful and it's a good workout. (play it in D and play the be-diddle-iddle bits in 2nd position. Maybe you can play it in both D and G on the viola, where 2nd position might be more generally useful)

Andrew

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Mouse
July 7, 2021 - 10:36 am
Member Since: December 26, 2018
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Thanks, Alf.

The Bumblebee Flies!

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ELCBK
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July 7, 2021 - 11:09 am
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Good to see you keep challenging yourself!

My simple advice is spend time on playing music you love, that just has a lot of what you need in it.  Maybe it's music you've been avoiding - thinking it's too difficult.  That's where the 'love' comes into play - gives you the motivation. 

Find short tunes, melodies or practice on sections, phrases or motifs and get the feel - is it somber/melancholy, jumping, swaying?

If it's intonation, maybe chose a piece that has notes you are NOT used to - sharps, flats and different positions, that make you listen to tell if you play them correctly.  Best way to learn to hear correctly is to play along with someone or something that does play it correctly

If it's bowing, maybe chose a piece you like that has a variety of bowing challenges, like fast string crossings, a few double stops, long strokes mixed with many short ones and varying speed. 

If you need more 4th finger strength, chose a short tune you love that uses a lot of it, etc...

Maybe not a good idea to chose a piece of music that has everything you need to work on, all at once. (lol)  🤔... suppose, if you do have that kind of motivation, then GO FOR IT! 🤗

giphy.gif

 

You may think my trying to to give any advice is ludicrous, especially after my videos near the water - but in all fairness, the wind affected me WAY more than I could imagine possible. 

...I'll redeem myself with an indoor video, soon. 😊

- Emily

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Mouse
July 7, 2021 - 11:15 am
Member Since: December 26, 2018
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LOL,ELCBK!

Your videos are great. I liked the outdoor one.

The Bumblebee Flies!

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Scrap
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July 7, 2021 - 1:30 pm
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I like the idea of planning your practices. It is kind of like having an agenda at a meeting to keep it on track. I keep journals when I officiate of games and what I learned and can do better on. I think it is a great idea to do that on fiddling too. Then I can look back and see the progress and help plan what I need to work on. Of course right now everything seems overwhelming!

 

Keep up the good work!

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Mouse
July 7, 2021 - 1:51 pm
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Thanks, Scrap. I did my first one this morning. It worked out pretty well, but it was the first. I have my notes. I also downloaded some of Fiddlerman's sheet music that applies to what I am doing for my first lesson.

I, also, put all of the other books and sheet music away so as not to tempt me. I kept. two out just to give me a chance to have a variety and they are just simple ones so that I do not forget everything I did on the other strings, reminder pieces.

The Bumblebee Flies!

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Mouse
July 8, 2021 - 10:15 am
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I am still continuing with my plan. I might rename this and move it the member blog. I will wait another day. A blog would mean regular entries and I am not sure I would do that. Another day, and I will see. @JohnG was a bad influence! No, just the opposite! A very good influence for logging sessions.

I just did a 45 minute practice with my scheduled lessons I assigned myself. I followed that with a run through of a few songs I know, but at a slower speed so I can enforce the fingering from the D string I have been working on. Since the location on the other strings is similar, I was paying attention on those strings. It was actually getting better. I just have to keep myself doing that.

I have been using the open A for that one Suzuki song that I adjusted by lowering it a string so it would fit my lesson. Suzuki starts on the A string and does the E and F# on the E string just a few times. 

I start it on D and do the A string a couple times. Unlike the Suzuki fingering, when the B (F# in the Suzuki version) is not following the  A (E in the Suzuki version), I do not do the open string. I am using the 4th finger and trying to stretch it. I find I have to move up a tad, and I have been able to adjust back to the proper 1st position and hit the F# (C# - Suzuki) that always follows the 4th finger A (E - Suzuki) in this song. It might be followed with a G (D - Suzuki) once or twice. I have a hard time changing the way things are done, after I learn it one way, so I want to include the 4th finger where appropriate as I continue. 

The Bumblebee Flies!

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JohnG
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July 8, 2021 - 11:32 am
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@Mouse - I'm impressed with your plan and its execution! Blogs don't have to be daily, perhaps a weekly recap? Even if you drop the plans in the future, explaining why, both to yourself and others, will add to your understanding of your development and serve as a model for others to follow or reject.

The old curmudgeon!

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Mouse
July 8, 2021 - 11:52 am
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As I said, @JohnG, very good influence. I will probably move this to the blog section, I thought about starting it there, later this afternoon. I was going to do a different blog quite a while ago, I think I still might do that one. 

The Bumblebee Flies!

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Gordon Shumway
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July 9, 2021 - 3:05 am
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I had a Classics tutor who, being an old-timer, used a card-index for things he wanted to keep a record of.

I decided I'd need to be taught how and instead began a Classics/Anglo-Saxon Blog. It lasted from 2011 until recently and has 346 entries. But I kept it private, due to textual copyright doubts.

I don't think I personally want a violin blog, although it will work for some.

Initially the page-a-day diary and constant reference to Galamian were necessary, as there was so much to think about, but nowadays I know roughly what my faults are and can work on them without need for reference material.

Most recently I've become aware of how poorly I move over to the D string - there are intonation issues with the little finger, and the bowing suffers because I'm rarely bowing close enough to the bridge and the result is a plasticky sound. That's annoying because Lyndon on vcom thinks codabows (mine is a GX) sound plasticky in the midrange, and I don't want him to be right.

Coincidentally a few similar baroque pieces all at the level I'm at have similar work on the D-string, so good fortune has presented me with suitable study material.

Andrew

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katie m
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July 9, 2021 - 6:40 am
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This is a great post and really interesting seeing everyone’s replies and ideas. I think putting stuff away so you don’t get tempted is a is a good plan.

I often wonder if I’m practicing correctly as I don’t really have much of a routine and I don’t have a plan at all. I think at the moment I can fit all the things I’m doing in my head as I’m such a beginner. I just do some scales and then work on the piece I’m trying to play. I am guilty of giving up and moving into something else when I feel I’m not improving. 

I like the blog idea! Would that be for us to see? 

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Mouse
July 9, 2021 - 10:48 am
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If I move it to the blog forum group, it would be there for everyone to see, just like it is here, just moved to the blog area. I would rename it though. 

I practiced early last night. I am hoping when I practice today that I am still getting the fingering correct for good intonation. I just have to keep with the structured lesson. So far, I have not allowed myself to move beyond what I have "assigned" myself for the week. Regular lessons would be for a week.

The Bumblebee Flies!

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Mouse
July 9, 2021 - 4:50 pm
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I just finished my practicing. I found some really good exercises in the menu bars Sheet Music. Fiddlerman's Sheet Music/Beginner Intermediate. 

Beginners etudes on the D-string

They are all natural notes. The A is used on the D string. The pattern really gives you a workout and helps make you more flexible, at least it did for me.

If the link does not work, go to the menu bar at the top. Beginners to Intermediate. You will find the etudes for each string in the Etudes - Studies. The D that I am using is the Natural notes on the D-string. 

This is a really good exercise. It has been added to this week's lesson. 

The Bumblebee Flies!

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JohnG
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July 9, 2021 - 5:17 pm
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@Mouse - Welcome to the dark side (blog-land)! lol You just might shame me into developing and following an actual lesson plan, too! I'm sure the etudes would help me, but like "winging it" and just attempt to play tunes.

The old curmudgeon!

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Mouse
July 9, 2021 - 5:56 pm
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Hey, ya do whatever works, right? I am glad I found those etudes Fiddlerman made. They are a workout. 

The Bumblebee Flies!

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Mouse
July 10, 2021 - 10:44 am
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Well, I finished 50 minutes of practice and plying. I am finding that Fiddlerman's sheet on D-string etudes is really helping. This is why.

This etude is using the A with the fourth finger on the D string s a normal occurrence. It is giving my 4th finger a workout, from the beginning, not adding it later. So, it is beginning to get on par with the other three finger.

It starts with just a run up and down from open D to A. Then it has a couple little parts where the A is not used. Then it gradually adds the A. At the end, it seems like the end is, or seems to me because I need that A with the 4th workout, designed for the A. There are jumps from F natural to A, open string to A, A to F natural. I have a hard time with the F natural to the A, or the other way. The G to the A is getting pretty good. Today the F to A, or A to F, seemed better. It is still difficult, but I could notice an improvement when playing it.

I have made that sheet the main part of my lesson. I start with that and work it until I am loosened up and confident. Then I work on the rest of the pieces I assigned myself for the week. I end, with the D-string workout.

I have noticed that I am paying more attention to my bowing, I am hearing the notes better, when they are flat or sharp, etc. I almost tuned it correctly without a tuner, I checked after. Of course, it was not way off to begin with, but I had problems with that before. I am feeling more relaxed with my bow hand/arm also.

I think the D-string sheet, and the subsequent string sheets provided by Fiddlerman, will be used for all lessons as I continue adding strings. The D-string will be part of the A string, the A and D string will be part of the E string, etc. That D-string sheet is just a really nicely laid out set of exercises and works. I am using it with different rhythms, different dynamics, etc. Really helpful. Sometimes the little pieces are done separately, other times I combine a couple to make a little tune. Thank you @Fiddlerman. Great practice sheet. I have isolated the hardest section with the F to A with 4th finger jumps and work them on their own.

The Bumblebee Flies!

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Mouse
July 10, 2021 - 12:15 pm
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I don't see where many videos will be posted in my blog. To make a video will just detract me from my lesson, and take time away from what time I have to practice/play my violin. I always have to retake and retake. Then it takes me forever to upload it to YouTube. I concentrate too much on making the video over
my playing, when making a video. I have a hard time connecting the two, and learning to play better is priority. I may post one periodically, if I record more than my sound to check on improvements.

Right now, I occasionally set my phone down and just record my sound so I can hear it again to compare what I think I hear, and what is actually coming out, ie wishlist vs reality!

The Bumblebee Flies!

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JohnG
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July 10, 2021 - 2:19 pm
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Mouse said
I just finished my practicing. I found some really good exercises in the menu bars Sheet Music. Fiddlerman's Sheet Music/Beginner Intermediate. 

Beginners etudes on the D-string

They are all natural notes. The A is used on the D string. The pattern really gives you a workout and helps make you more flexible, at least it did for me.

...  

Okay, you've convinced me to try this out. Since @Fiddlerman didn't include these on the Violaman site, I brought the pdf into MuseScore, changed clef to alto and added his annotation. Here is my version.

The old curmudgeon!

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Mouse
July 10, 2021 - 2:24 pm
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Oh, nice! You should add this to your blog on Violaman and Fiddlerman. I am going to print it because I will be starting this lesson system on my viola in a couple months, if it still works for my violin. 

The Bumblebee Flies!

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