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New-ish aspiring violinist
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Mad_Cheshire13
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May 27, 2020 - 10:20 pm
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Hello! My name is Niki and I have had a violin for the past two or three years but have only really played for about six months consecutively. I do not have a tutor at the moment which is lousy and especially hard to find right now with COVID-19 going on.

I am doing what I can to improve finger placement and tone as well as training my ear to the proper notes and limiting the bad habits that may develop or may have developed. I am also learning the cello in a similar fashion and I have had that for just under a year. 

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cid
May 27, 2020 - 10:32 pm
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Welcome to the forum, @Mad_Cheshire13!

There are many people here without instructors. We all try to help each other out or have fun in the Breakroom or Off Music Topic Room.

I have a violin, viola and cello. I started with a cello. Had three months of lessons and had return the cello, three month lease with option to buy, because the lessons were not really done well.

After being out of state for a while, came back, bought a cello, bought a violin and viola. I love bowed string instruments. At 65, I know I will not become proficient in them, but I am having a lot of fun. 

I do take cello lessons again. Have had a wonderful instructor for a little over a year. He switched to online lessons when COVID-19 started closing things down in the states. Much to my surprise, I learn a lot more with a 1/2 hour Facetime lesson than I did with an hour long in person studio lesson, with the same instructor.

So, we are all over the spectrum here and really are pleased when new member join in, 

Welcome to the site!

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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damfino
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May 28, 2020 - 4:39 pm
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Welcome to the forum! 

For instructors, right now with performers having so much down time, you can actually find some pretty accomplished players offering skype/zoom lessons. In person is really helpful, but you can learn a lot via online lessons like that. I've been doing skype lessons for a little over a year now, and while different from my old in-person instruction, I'm still learning a ton. I kind of like the idea that you aren't limited to just the people in your local area, and can branch out to find the right person for you.

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Mad_Cheshire13
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May 28, 2020 - 6:10 pm
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Thank you for your responses! I've received a bit of criticism for being self-taught on a Facebook group that I am part of and just discovered this forum earlier today. Hopefully, I will be able to get more from this than I was over there.

I'm presently working on Solveig’s and the Swan Lake finale. I have ADHD so I have a hard time focusing on one piece at a time and have a tendency to jump around to pieces I can play easier. My main goal is to structure my practice so that actually has more of an outline and a clear objective each time I pick up my violin. My goal is the same with my cello.

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cid
May 28, 2020 - 6:37 pm
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I would say most of us here are self learning. I have a cello instructor, but working in violin and viola on my own.Those who have instructors are extremely helpful and have absolutely no problem with that. Ask away! You may find you have a lot of info and tips you can share, also. Again, welcome to this forum where we are all happy to help each other with our bowed string instruments.

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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AndrewH
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May 28, 2020 - 11:09 pm
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It seems to me like about an equal split between people taking lessons and people self-teaching on this forum.

Because most string players live in big cities where there are plenty of teachers, and started as children, I think a lot of them forget that there are many reasons someone might not be able to find a teacher. I do recommend getting lessons if you can -- but I got pretty far by self-teaching for the first 16 years I played violin/viola, so I know it's certainly possible.

About online teachers: in case you're having trouble finding someone, about a month into the pandemic someone created a searchable directory called Maestro Match where a whole lot of teachers have listed themselves, covering all instruments and all styles of music. I've seen some fairly well-known performers listed there. (As time zones go, teachers on Maestro Match are still mostly US Eastern Time because the website started out with a list of NYC based musicians, but over time teachers from other places have added themselves.)

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Mad_Cheshire13
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May 28, 2020 - 11:12 pm
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Wow, I was not expecting that response at all! I looked over at violinist.com and they were all incredibly snooty and turned their nose up at people that are self-taught as did the people in my violin group on Facebook. There were some on there that were supportive and understanding but the majority of them were just like get a teacher, get a teacher, get a teacher. It was like they wouldn't take me seriously because I didn't show up big bucks to pay somebody to teach me how to use the instrument. 

It's not that I didn't want to it’s that I didn't have the money to do so because when I picked up the violin, I was on a tight budget and then I ended up with a spinal injury which put me out of commission for a while and I was on workers comp so I couldn't really afford a tutor. Things are better now but with the COVID-19, on it's kind of hard to find one.  I just feel like I'm at a wall right now where I have pretty much taught myself as much as I can and I do need a teacher at some point to help me progress.

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Mad_Cheshire13
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May 28, 2020 - 11:18 pm
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@AndrewH I'll definitely look at that, as it could be incredibly helpful for getting my intonation and overall posture/finger placement down. I'm so worried about bad habits developing from teaching myself that I almost obsess of things like form but I have a tendency to sway as I'm playing which I am trying to stop. It's not really working though...I guess it's good to not be a stiff player but I feel I move a little too much, not so much that it impedes my playing but noticeable enough. Right now my biggest challenge is finding the sharps and flats properly and learning vibrato. 

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AndrewH
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May 29, 2020 - 3:12 am
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Mad_Cheshire13 said
Wow, I was not expecting that response at all! I looked over at violinist.com and they were all incredibly snooty and turned their nose up at people that are self-taught as did the people in my violin group on Facebook. There were some on there that were supportive and understanding but the majority of them were just like get a teacher, get a teacher, get a teacher. It was like they wouldn't take me seriously because I didn't show up big bucks to pay somebody to teach me how to use the instrument. 

  

After being around violinist.com for a while, I've come to understand why some of those people act the way they do. A high percentage of the self-taught players who show up there seem to start off by asking about their chances of becoming a professional violinist, and many people are tired of it. Unfortunately, they then seem to immediately assume that people who show up without a teacher have unrealistic expectations.

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Mad_Cheshire13
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May 29, 2020 - 9:05 pm
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@AndrewH That makes more sense but it does put a person who's just learning to be a good player off. I didn't even bother signing up after I saw all of the responses to some of the newbies.

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AndrewH
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Yeah, I wish they didn't jump to conclusions so quickly. Just saying I sort of understand why they act that way. I don't approve of it.

The reason I started out self-teaching was that teachers didn't even seem to want my money -- several said I was already too old to learn a string instrument, when I was still in my teens. There are so many reasons why finding a teacher is easier said than done, especially for an adult. And people who started as young children and take access to lessons for granted don't think about those things. TBH, I suspect the main reason I get some respect there is that at least two regulars on that board are familiar with the orchestra I play in and have heard me play (in the orchestra) in person.

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Mad_Cheshire13
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May 30, 2020 - 12:30 am
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AndrewH said
Yeah, I wish they didn't jump to conclusions so quickly. Just saying I sort of understand why they act that way. I don't approve of it.

The reason I started out self-teaching was that teachers didn't even seem to want my money -- several said I was already too old to learn a string instrument, when I was still in my teens. There are so many reasons why finding a teacher is easier said than done, especially for an adult. And people who started as young children and take access to lessons for granted don't think about those things. TBH, I suspect the main reason I get some respect there is that at least two regulars on that board are familiar with the orchestra I play in and have heard me play (in the orchestra) in person.

  

That's good that they can see that you are serious about it. I couldn't afford a teacher when I first got the violin and I wanted to learn so badly that I didn't want to waste time waiting until I could afford one so self-taught was my option along with countless times and hours spent watching YouTube videos on practicing, bowing technique and any other issue I would have.

I also got the Suzuki books 1-3 and the Essential Elements for Strings plus 3-4 other guide books to help me. I could only play by ear at first which is what I did with the piano as a kid because reading music didn't really click with me. I also got books on reading music and spent even more time on videos explaining everything haha! I am better at reading now, at least for my violin that is.

With cello being in bass clef, that for me is almost like starting over again. My end goal is to fiddle proficiently, make some of my own songs, and do covers. I don't really want to focus on the classical route as the fiddling aspect sings to me more.

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Peter
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Mad_Cheshire13 said 

With cello being in bass clef, that for me is almost like starting over again.  

The bass clef is a foreign land for me, in spite of being able to sight-read it twenty+ years ago when I sang bass in an SATB. The voice is a very different thing to the left hand; I trained myself to sing the pitches I saw, but I've had to 'start over again' now I've begun piano. I recognise where notes are in the pattern of long and short keys, but the bass clef has to be reverse-engineered by counting notes away from the F line for each new note at the moment. I'll get there; persistence.

Having direct, one-to-one tuition is a really big help, but you needn't have tuition too often; I took advice from the old hands on this forum and planned to have a half-hour lesson once every two to four weeks, depending on my needs at the time. I had one half hour lesson just before we locked down in UK, and I learned so much in that forty five minutes; my bow-hold was transformed, I was assured that my tatty old fiddle was more than adequate as a student instrument, I was given exercises to improve my right hand, and so much more. Having said that, I'm very self-propelled (I distance-learned my tertiary education) and many people share my need of self reliance. Adult fiddle learners appear to have this attribute, generally.

YouTube is a great place to find teaching resources, but there's a lot of poor quality tosh on there too. My recommendation is to begin with Nicola Benedetti's channel. She's a world-class violinist with excellent presentation skills.

Peter

"It is vain to do with more that which can be done with less"  - William of Ockham

"A crown is merely a hat that lets the rain in" - Frederick the Great

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Gordon Shumway
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Peter said The bass clef is a foreign land for me, in spite of being able to sight-read it twenty+ years ago when I sang bass in an SATB. The voice is a very different thing to the left hand; I trained myself to sing the pitches I saw, but I've had to 'start over again' now I've begun piano.  

Interesting.

40 years ago I was quite a good pianist, but when I bought a piano last year I found the bass clef quite difficult to relearn. I guess we have much more contact with the treble clef - 40 years ago I also played the oboe, and I played CG a few years back, and now I'm playing violin and flute, and sometimes I use sheet music for uke songs, although most don't, because they can't.

A while ago I looked at the alto clef, and the biggest conceptual problem was that between the middle line ("middle C" on the piano) and the space above was a tone/whole tone, whereas in the middle of the treble clef, B to C, it's a semitone/half tone.

But what's true of the alto clef is also true of the bass clef (the middle of it is D/E), so I shouldn't have found it so (conceptually) difficult. I have dithered about whether to buy a viola, but a good reason might be to force myself to become familiar with the alto clef. Now if that's not a sign of having too much money, I don't know what is!

Andrew

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Mad_Cheshire13
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May 30, 2020 - 10:24 am
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@Gordon Shumway I’ve also thought about picking up the viola! I want to be cross trained on the violin, guitar, piano cello and potentially a viola as well. I know it’s a tall order but I pick up on instruments fairly fast I think. 

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Mad_Cheshire13
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May 30, 2020 - 10:33 am
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@Peter I’ve looked at how long lessons should be and I keep coming up with is weekly lessons for 30-60 minutes long. Which at first didn’t make too much sense to me I thought lessons were at least 2 to 3 times a week instead once a week and it seemed like once a week wasn’t enough. But then I started thinking about it how you’ll 13have a week to work on what your teacher was telling you.

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Peter
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The frequency of lessons depends on the learner; a 7-year-old would benefit from weekly (or twice-weekly) lessons, while a 60-year-old self-reliant introvert would find this oppressive and unnecessary. While some people like to be told everything, others need to discover ideas and methods for themselves at a pace of their own determination. For what it's worth, I'm still using things my teacher told me ten weeks ago when we met for the first and only time; it'll be interesting to ask her opinion of my progress when next we meet.

If you need some structure to your practice routine, try spending the first 30% of the time on scales and etudes, the middle 40% on repertoire pieces (your favourite tunes) and the remainder on new material and techniques. If it suits you, adjust these ratios to your taste and nature. It's your time, and your musicianship you're building. Above all, enjoy each and every minute.

Peter

"It is vain to do with more that which can be done with less"  - William of Ockham

"A crown is merely a hat that lets the rain in" - Frederick the Great

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Mad_Cheshire13
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May 31, 2020 - 3:17 am
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Peter said
The frequency of lessons depends on the learner; a 7-year-old would benefit from weekly (or twice-weekly) lessons, while a 60-year-old self-reliant introvert would find this oppressive and unnecessary. While some people like to be told everything, others need to discover ideas and methods for themselves at a pace of their own determination. For what it's worth, I'm still using things my teacher told me ten weeks ago when we met for the first and only time; it'll be interesting to ask her opinion of my progress when next we meet.

If you need some structure to your practice routine, try spending the first 30% of the time on scales and etudes, the middle 40% on repertoire pieces (your favourite tunes) and the remainder on new material and techniques. If it suits you, adjust these ratios to your taste and nature. It's your time, and your musicianship you're building. Above all, enjoy each and every minute.

  

Thank you so much for this. With things the way they are right now I've been turning to my violin and cello more and more as a source of therapy, stress relief, and tool for relaxation. I've been trying to figure out how to structure my practice sessions pretty much since I started playing and this gives me a general idea of what to do.

I haven't been too far off, I usually set up the first 5 to 10 minutes for scales and etudes and then I'll go into songs that I don't really know how to play or ones that I am just learning, and then after that, I will go into ones that I do know the kind of wind down the session.

I actually have a timer app on my phone that allows me to do various timers in a session so I can set a session for 30 minutes and have 5 minutes for scales and then another five minutes for etudes and then the remaining 20 minutes for general practice. It allows me to set a timer in steps, which is very helpful.

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Gordon Shumway
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Basically the frequency of lessons depends on how quickly you improve - a teacher wants to hear an improvement, even a small one, from lesson to lesson. In the case of the violin, there's a lot of technical stuff to deal with, so the improvements between lessons can be quite small, and there will always be something else for the teacher to address.

Andrew

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Peter
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Mad_Cheshire13 said

 

I actually have a timer app on my phone that allows me to do various timers in a session so I can set a session for 30 minutes and have 5 minutes for scales and then another five minutes for etudes and then the remaining 20 minutes for general practice. It allows me to set a timer in steps, which is very helpful.  

Timing is reasonable for organising a session, but if you find the exercise or piece you are working on is starting to fade in accuracy of intonation or rhythm, stop and move on to something else. You've stopped learning that thing for now, and you can pick it up again at the next session.

@Gordon Shumway is correct in the context of regular teacher-led tuition, but for a self-learner you can only follow your own innate learning rhythm. When you are your own teacher, self-criticism is very important. Use a mirror when performing bowing exercises to maintain angles and sound point on the strings, and record yourself playing to get a remote impression of your music. Friends and family are unlikely to give you useful input (unless they are better fiddlers than you, and their candour can be relied upon), so get into the habit of analysing your own playing and pay particular attention to your poise and eliminate any tension. Violin playing is to be done relaxed if strains and worse are to be avoided.

Peter

"It is vain to do with more that which can be done with less"  - William of Ockham

"A crown is merely a hat that lets the rain in" - Frederick the Great

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