Greetings to Fiddlerman and Fellow Fiddlerman Fans!
I am another brand new violin player, starting this new chapter at age 65. I decided on an electric violin to begin, out of mercy for my neighbors. But I also bought the Fiddlerman strings and carbon fiber bow right away. It all arrived about a week ago, and I successfully changed the strings all by myself, with the help of a few videos. (Baby step 1.) It made a big difference in the tone, once I could get any sound at all. (The FM bow and a new rosin made the difference there. Baby step 2.)
Then I could make nice sounds on all the open strings!!
About the third day, I started learning left hand fingering, and I realized that I didn’t want to get comfortable with bad left hand form. I know I’m way ahead of myself here, but someday I will want to use some vibrato! But I couldn’t really finger right because I still had to use my left hand somehow to help hold up the violin. So I’ve been futzing around with chin rests and now an FM shoulder rest trying to find a configuration that allows me to hold the thing while fingering more freely with the left hand. It’s not great, of course, duh!, and the arthritis in my fingers is kicking in, but I CAN successfully hold the violin now, like Look, Ma, no left hand! That took a few more days.
I have a few vague memories from being forced to play the viola for a few months in grade school. I wanted to play the violin back then, but my parents wouldn’t let me. (They probably didn’t want to listen to it!) The viola was way too big and heavy for me--I hated it, and quickly went back to piano. But maybe it helped anyway, because I seem to be picking up bowing pretty quickly.
Current baby steps: 1st finger positions, forays into 2nd and 3rd fingers (rarely 4th finger yet) on the other strings, and then on to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. I really liked what Fiddlerman said about using your ear rather than fingerboard stickers. I’m using the little D’Addario tuner to tune the open strings, but after that I really like finding the sounds of the other notes myself.
Sorry this is so long! This is my idea of a summary--imagine how long it would be if I thought I should go into detail!
Thanks for listening, and thanks to Fiddlerman for all the right stuff and all the videos!
Jane, the SemiNun
Hi, Jane, welcome to the forum.
If you thought that was long, you obviously haven't read any of my novels yet...
Left hand position: Ideally, you would have the left hand turned around so that the fingers were perpendicular to the strings. I don't know of anyone who can twist their arm around THAT far but that would give you the best results. (Although a few people (especially in India) play the violin in an upright position in front of them (a little like a cello). In that position, that angle for your fingers is quite easy and natural.)
You will probably find that it hurts your forearm to have your hand twisted around that far, if you keep it up for very long. (If you've done things that kept your arms and hands very limber, you might not.) If you do, stop, turn the hand/arm the other way a few times, massage it some, and rest for a while before trying it again. Your body will adapt to these contortions, but it needs time to do that. If you try and force the adaptation (or keep doing it despite the pain), you'll only hurt yourself, and make the process take longer. I would recommend taking a brief break where you untwist your arm every 2-3 minutes at first. I find that if I get into to what I'm doing, I don't notice any pain until I stop and set the violin down. Then my arm screams loud and long.
I'm a fan of the learn-by-ear method of learning finger positions also. It took me about a week to have them down reasonably well. Unfortunately, I'm at about 7 months, and I still don't have them down perfectly. My sense of pitch is good enough that I notice it, and it's maddening. It does get better as you go though, and Pierre (aka Fiddlerman) commented somewhere that one never stops wanting one's intonation to be better. So if you've "learned" one and in the middle of concentrating on something else, you're off enough to notice, don't feel alone, and don't think there's something wrong with you.
Charles, thank you for your response and encouragement! Your suggestions are very pertinent to what I'm experiencing right now, and I really appreciate you taking the time to be so specific.
I know just what you mean about noticing when pitch is off even before you can hit it right more often. Happens to me in art all the time too: that my visualization of something is ahead of my ability to execute it on the page. I guess it will be this way with violin too.
I hope my old brittle bones don't hold me back too much! I get a lot more pain than I used to from playing piano or sewing or whatever, and these violin motions are definitely new twists on the old fine motor skills. I will be sure to rest and massage frequently to avoid pain that won't heal--I might not have thought of that, so thanks for the reminder.
Thanks for your response, damfino!
And big thanks to The Man, Fiddlerman, for your feedback too! I love your videos and comments! You convinced me that I could learn on my own. I like your way of explaining things.
Your video on the FM Soloist violin where you play Raise Me Up is exactly my ideal of violin-playing. I don't realistically expect to get that good, but at least it tells you the style I love the most. And I decided right there that the Soloist violin is the violin for me, even if it's way beyond my level. But I'm starting out with the electric violin and making sure that I enjoy it and stick with it for a while. THEN I will buy the Soloist!
My username has a long story behind it, as you might imagine, and I'm already writing too much. Besides, it's a public forum.
Welcome Jane! You probably already know this but the folks here and GREAT!
Extremely friendly and very helpful!
You may be aware of this but tomorrow starting at 3 pm EST several folks will be performing live on streetjelly.com, if you create an account you'll be able to chat with other people from here and applaud the performances.