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Haven't posted in a few months. I just wanted to share my experience as new adult learner so that people can feel like they are not alone. This may be more of a vent than anything haha. So i started "playing" in like december / januarary of last year, but didn't get a "real" violin until march of this year. I went strong in practicing almost every day for a few months until about June of this year. I love the violin and don't feel like I will give up. Over the last few months I lost some motivation and had been playing like once a week. Then about a month ago, I hurt my back at work and could barely lift my arm so that put any progress I had made down the drain. I feel better now and am starting to "feel the itch" to practice almost every day even if its for 30 minutes a day..
Since my last post I was discussing that I have a serious tension problem in both hand. I have a death grip on my left. I have been trying to loosen it up and am aware of the problem.
My bow hand needs work. hand and keeping bow straight.
And since I have been practicing more I have started to notice I am raising my left shoulder up and maybe a bit more foward than needed. I have a high shoulder rest. But I am starting to feel I may need a higher chin rest due to my long neck. I have a bony chin. I like my chin rest profile because its slim, But i feel it needs some height. Any recommendations on a slim but taller chin rest?
Another issue I am having is learning proper bow distribution. Gaha im a mess! I told ya.. I am doing this all without a teacher unfortunatly because I cannot afford ine right now.
I guess my question boils down to, all these problems I know I need to tackle and mostly one at a time... But I go to pick one to tackle... and feel like they dont get much better at all. to the point i tell myself. well i need to try to tackle a different problem.
The only thing I feel I have going good for me Is I am able to hear pitch and intonation well. Not to say that my intonation is good, I can just recognize easily when it is off. Also I seem to be able to play decently well by ear. I need/want to focus learning sheet music.
With all these problems, do some sort them self out with just the experience and putting the time in for practicing? Like for say bow distribution, when i play more that will improve as I get used to the feel. I just feel overwhelmed in the technical issues and feel like I am practicing bad habits in trying to learn on my own.
Thanks for reading this book of a post. All in all I still love playing even if I am a mess of a player.
With the hand tension, what my teacher told me, that as soon as I know that my grip is tensing up, I should drop that hand to the side, and shake it out to loosen it up, then try again. That really did help. I still do that if I find myself starting to grip (I do that sometimes when I'm focusing on learning something, tricky fingering, speeding up a tune, whatever, the focus can make me tense up).
Which shoulder rest do you currently use? You might be able to keep your current chin rest and just upgrade to a taller shoulder rest, if the one you have is limited. I would work on finding your proper shoulder rest or new chin rest, and that may help ease your hand tension as well.
On a journey to learn the fiddle since July 24, 2015
Sounds like we're birds of a feather, RoseOfMayIX.
l'm am a champ at acquiring injuries by overdoing and forcing myself in sports... and now again with my new violin "habit".
Here are a couple of helpful things I've started to do:
- Warm up before I start - like yoga or stretching. Since I've given my left hand a beating too, I actually put a warm pack on it before starting to practice (and an ice pack afterwards, and it really helps.)
- You're already keeping your practice sessions short. I've also started taking 5 minute breaks as soon as I feel shoulder or back tension. More stretching in between for me.
Long necks are lovely but I get your problem. Before you buy a higher chinrest, maybe you can cut some slivers of cork and wedge them in temporarily try to raise the one you have. @Irv is good at modifying instruments. Maybe he'll chime in on this idea.
Glad you're feeling a bit better and are able to pick up again!
I have become a proponent of keeping my head upright while playing a violin (as suggested by Charles I believe on this forum). If this is OK with you, I suggest that you look at the SAS chin rest as sold by Fiddlerman. It has been highly rated on this forum (you may want to do a search on this).
I enjoy playing with a flesch style chin rest. There is an Indian manufacturer of ebony violin accessories that puts “WBO” in their eBay auction titles that makes two varieties of chin rests which are specifically tailored for people with long necks (a pair of telescoping adjustments with hand knobs that are part of the clamping assembly). The cost is about $26 with shipping. I have not bought this particular item, but I have been very satisfied with my purchases with them. If you go this route, please report on your success since I would like a review on the product.
It would be difficult to modify an existing chin rest by adding some sort of shim under it, as suggested by bocaholly, because the added moment arm would tend to make the point of attachment with the violin less stable. Adding material on the top surface may be of some use (perhaps with a folded towel).
Another method of spanning the distance created by a long neck would be with the shoulder rest. I like the Wittner Isny, which has a rather extreme range of adjustment (get the viola model, which has a thicker pad), but it is rather pricey at about $70.
Cranks make revolutions. JBS Haldane
@Irv - that SAS model is one gorgeous chin rest!
Turns out, I'll be bringing my violin teacher to Fiddlershop this coming week (someone obsconded with her favorite teaching bow and she needs a replacement.) Since bows will be the topic anyway, I'll let you know if they have any with black horse hair.
So now I'll stop hijacking RoseOfMayIX 's thread 🙂 Back to the subject of steps forward and backwards while trying to keep our bodies fit enough to practice.
For long necks, it may be more advisable to get a high chin rest than to use a high shoulder rest setup, because a high shoulder rest changes the angle at which your instrument is being held and may pull the edge of the instrument off your collarbone completely.
If you're willing to spend money on your setup, consider getting a Frisch & Denig custom chin rest. They partner with people all over the US who do the fittings (mostly either teachers or luthiers), then make a chin rest to your specifications. They have a number of basic patterns that they modify to the height and horizontal position you need.
You have to pay for the fitter's time separately as they're not employees, and you'll be quoted a price for the chin rest a few days after the fitting. The fitting will typically cost about the same as one lesson in your area; the chin rest may be anywhere from $25 to $120 depending on the base pattern and the amount of customization needed.
Attached is a photo of the Frisch & Denig chin rest that I have on my viola. I got it a month ago. I need it because of a very short neck, and need a chin rest close to center but lower than my tailpiece, so they took the Brandt pattern, shaved a millimeter off the bottom and replaced the cork, and cut the inside edge to allow it to be moved about half a centimeter closer to the tailpiece than would normally be possible. The chin rest itself cost me $70.
Now, back to the main topic... most of these technical issues need focused practice to improve. You can play for years with poor bow distribution. Do what you can to isolate each of the problems. For example, if you want to work on bowing, is to play music that you know very well so that you don't have to think much about the left hand. That allows you to focus your attention on your bow arm. For practicing intonation in the context of a piece of music, forget about rhythm and play one note at a time slowly. (Scales and arpeggios will also help, of course.)
Thanks for the replies everyone. I will look into those two chinrests you suggested Irv. The shoulder rest I have is the comfort cradle. Ive tried kun, bon musica, everest and the only one that felt cimfortable for my body type was the comfort cradle. It was also rather pricey. It the tall version. I spent little time trying chinrest at the shop I went to so I think I might see if I can close the gap with a better chinrest. I am also curious as if maybe a center mounted ine would work better. No clue. haha but for now i will having some small cloth on my chinrest to add some height.
Damfino, I have been trying the shaking my hand out ant it works for a little bit. I yse my hands alot at work d naturally hold alot of tension regardless on playing violin. I am aware and mindfull and take breaks regularly to walk it out. I also find myself holding my breath when playing
Maybe i should just drink some wine before I play to loosen me up! hahaha. Anywoo thanks for the suggestions everyone. Off to practice for me. Take care and happy playing.
Hi RoseOfMayIX (and others). Another thought about violin playing with a long neck. You may want to consider purchasing a fractional sized viola (such as a 14 inch body Cecilio CVA 500, which frequently show themselves on eBay for about $100), and string it as a violin. The rib height is about 3/8th of an inch higher than a violin and may go a long way of resolving your playing issues without other corrective measures.
Cranks make revolutions. JBS Haldane
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