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Fiddlerman's 35 Day Practice Challenge
Fiddlerman is challenging you to practice 35 days in a row.
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fiddlrgrrl
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March 2, 2015 - 12:36 am
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OK, I was hoping it wasn't all over.  Today was rehearsal so I'm going to count the two hours and start today, since it's Sunday.

I'm not very consistent at sticking to plans to do things like this.  Our orchestra has 2 concerts a year.  Our next concert is in 2 weeks.  After the concerts I tend to not play at all for awhile.  But I've worked harder this season than ever before, some of the music is very hard for me and I've made some good progress but it's still not enough to be satisfied with. 

Goals:  1) Dexterity and fast runs are difficult for me, I usually end up playing the first and last note, or every other note, and hoping nobody notices I sloughed through it. 2) Intonation: This season we're doing the Overture to Candide, I'll definitely not be up to speed on that.  We're also doing Holiday for Strings; the chromatic changes are hard for me to feel confident about.  I play them on a keyboard to feel sure what they're supposed to sound like.  I also listen to recordings of everything, over and over.  My favorite piece this season is Somerset Rhapsody.  It makes me cry...  But these three pieces are especially challenging for me.  I've spent a lot of time working on fingerings and position changes. 3) Continuing to practice after the concert is over. 

Fiddlrgrrl

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Fiddlerman
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March 2, 2015 - 6:16 am
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Shortcomings don't matter so much IMAO, it's progress that does. Sounds like you are doing great in respects to improvement and enjoying yourself at the same time.
Congratulations for all your hard work!!!

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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Schaick
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March 2, 2015 - 8:26 am
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I still have not missed a day since I first started!!  Hopefully these hours will add up to better sound and proficiency!!

Violinist start date -  May 2013  

Fiddler start date - May 2014

FIDDLE- Gift from a dear friend. A 1930-40 german copy, of a french copy of a Stradivarius.  BOW - $50 carbon fiber. Strings - Dominants with E Pirastro Gold string.

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toidi
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March 2, 2015 - 10:05 am
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Ok I had a great practice Sat and due to a other activities did not get back on Sun. Will do 2 sessions today. Struggling with changing strings cleanly and not hitting other strings in between. Also need to loosen my wrist and keep my little finger on the bow. 

Whew there is a lot to think about.

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Taper123
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March 2, 2015 - 8:32 pm
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On day 8.   Will have had the violin for 2 weeks on Wednesday.   Starting to get comfortable with the open strings, and playing the first three notes on each string.  I start off with a tuner clipped on, then remove it and see how close I can keep to the notes.  Go to my second lesson Wednesday.   Signed up for 30 minutes every week to have someone make sure I'm not teaching myself too many bad habits :)

I know I did not "need" one, but picked up one of the fiddlerman carbon fiber bows.  Far better quality than what came with my Cecilio.   But hey... it motivates me to practice, and it just feels better and makes better sounds from one end of the bow to the other, even with a new person like me.

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caterwaul
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March 3, 2015 - 1:02 am
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I'm starting again too, FM - I missed a couple of days in week 2 due to a cut finger that made things a bit awkward.

Confident I'll get it this time round. Maybe. tongue

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toidi
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March 3, 2015 - 3:03 pm
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I did my two practices yesterday. Im not sure I would recommend it. It feels like the second set is more tiring than useful. The first of the two was better.

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fiddlrgrrl
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March 3, 2015 - 9:49 pm
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I don't think I made quite half an hour yesterday, but today I've been playing off and on for the past 4 hours.  I need to be practicing tough parts of the upcoming concert music, but others here have inspired me to come up with some kind of structured plan for working on technique.  So I've been downloading a lot of things here and have printed out quite a few songs, both beginner and intermediate.  (I sound so much better playing them than most of our concert music...)

How does this sound for a practice plan, probably in 2 or 3 sessions during the day, minimum of 1 hour total/day: (COMMENTS AND SUGGESTIONS WELCOME)

1) 2 bowing arm/wrist exercise from the School of Bowing Technique books

2) 1 or 2 of Fiddlerman's dexterity and position exercises

3) Sevcik Book 1, at least 1 per day

4) Concert music, for the next 1 1/2 weeks.  Then work on one of the Etudes or Caprices, which will be good for my sight reading too. Should I go through one composer in sequence or can I jump around to what seems useful or interesting?

Through everything, I will work on intonation, position shifting, and speed.

Fiddlerman, thanks for the wealth of music you have for us to download!

I guess I should stop playing for tonight, my fingertips are sore.  I'm also working on lightening up my touch on the strings.  It surprised me how little pressure I actually need to use most of the time.

Fiddlrgrrl

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toidi
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March 4, 2015 - 8:44 am
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Ok..I did a half hour yesterday now 4 in a row. It felt good. I need to work on holding my upper arm still and work on developing my hand flexibility on the bow. That means a lot of whole notes on open strings but only i have to listen to it. Im not sure if my loss of tone quality at the frog end of the bow is speed, angle, or rosin.  

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Uzi
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March 4, 2015 - 9:46 am
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toidi said
Ok..I did a half hour yesterday now 4 in a row. It felt good. I need to work on holding my upper arm still and work on developing my hand flexibility on the bow. That means a lot of whole notes on open strings but only i have to listen to it. Im not sure if my loss of tone quality at the frog end of the bow is speed, angle, or rosin.  

Or little finger?

A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort. ~Herm Albright

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toidi
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March 5, 2015 - 12:24 pm
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Uzi...Yes that too but I have been trying to be pretty conscious of that.

Last night I stepped out and tried the first finger on the G string. Boy this is going to take a while....

I think I'll eat a banana.

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Fiddlerman
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March 5, 2015 - 9:41 pm
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fiddlrgrrl, you are very welcome.

I feel bad because I've missed days again. :(
Will I ever succeed the entire 35 days??????

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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RedViolin
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March 8, 2015 - 7:57 am
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How is everyone going?

I have made it to just over a week now, hopefully I can keep it up.

Inspired by Fiddlergrrl's detailed and inspirational posts, I thought I'd share what I've been doing as a beginner... for any feedback you guys might have, and because it might possibly be of some help to others who haven't been playing long and want to take up the challenge...

Basically, I've been working through the Strictly Strings my friends gave me for my birthday (book 1), doing about a page a day. Each time a new string/note/technique is introduced, I consult the Fiddlerman videos for guidance. So far, almost all of it has been stuff I learned back when I learned violin in school, but today I did pizzicato while holding the bow, which I had never done before!

As I go through the book, I'm making sure to add the scales and etudes I'm learning along the way to my practice each day. So my session is normally: 1) scales and etudes (if the page of the book I'm doing that day focuses on a particular string or strings, I focus on the corresponding activities), 2) video, 3) practice & record page of the day (since it's beginners, it's all very simple & quick) 4) end on a "challenge" piece I picked up on another site.

What do you think?

I've never really practiced before, so I started this challenge with no idea of how to do so! Is there anything I'm missing/shouldn't be doing from your experience?

pink-violin-girl

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fiddlrgrrl
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March 8, 2015 - 3:21 pm
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RedViolin, thank you.  I'm amazed that anything I say would inspire someone, so that really kind of made my day! 

I'm still practicing every day.  I wrote down my plan because I'm a very undisciplined person.  I was thinking this morning, that the word "discipline" to me is almost foul language.  Also it reminds me of what I am not.  But it occurred to me that the words "structure" and "plan" grab my interest.  So I'm sticking to my Plan.

I'm learning some important things from Fiddlerman's 4th Finger Exercises that I downloaded:  I have never worked specifically on the G string, and don't remember having any reason so far to use my 4th finger, and certainly not any higher positions on the G string.  I was surprised how these exercises absolutely killed me when I got to the G string.  Pain and stretch and hand cramps.  Ow!  Worse, terrible sound, because I have not paid the attention to where I'm bowing much, and I see that when I reach over to bow the G string I tend to let the bow slip up close to, or on, the fingerboard, and it squeaks.  Also, because of having to shift my hand position a LOT for these exercises, I caught myself with my wrist almost touching the violin before I shifted. Finally, to make things worse, it's so far almost impossible to not touch the D string when my 4th finger is on the G string, and with sloppy bowing on top of that it sounds horrendous, unless I push down really hard and crank my wrist enough to come down straight on the string.  Then I realized how tense and anxious that made me, so I have decided I have no reason to bother playing any more than A-B-C on the G string.  No, just kidding. lumpy-2134

I have decided I will conquer this tightness and work on stretching for that exercise a little every day, but I will stop before it becomes an aversive experience.

I should make a video of my hand doing these exercises and post it to ask if I'm doing it wrong.  But not now.  I'm still in my pajamas.  I love retirement....

Fiddlrgrrl

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Fiddlerman
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March 9, 2015 - 10:52 am
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I'm proud of all of you that have accomplished so much on the challenge. I keep failing. I guess I can blame this weekend on the "Change of Command Circle Raft up" event that our sailing club had this weekend. :)

In any case, I am determined to succeed one of these days. Doing it every singe day is tough....

Keep bringing this topic up to remind each other about the challenge and hopefully more and more of us will succeed.

Congratulations on your full first week on the challenge RedViolin. :) Keep it up!!!

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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RedViolin
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March 9, 2015 - 6:43 pm
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Thank you @Fiddlerman! It's been a great challenge so far, one that I'm really enjoying. Just what I needed!

I wouldn't say you have "failed" the challenge at all... you seem to live and breathe all things musical, so surely that counts for something each day! :D (although I am slightly disappointed you didn't try fiddling while sailing! :P)

Enjoyed reading your further observations too @fiddlrgrrl keep it up!

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Fiddlerman
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March 11, 2015 - 3:11 pm
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I will do the sailing playing some day. However, I think I need a carbon fiber violin for that. :) You have no idea how humid it can get out on the water.

thumbs-up

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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fiddle chick
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March 11, 2015 - 11:18 pm
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Well, I'm on day 70. Just finished a two-hour session with the boyfriend. We dedicate at least one night a week for playing together. He plays guitar and picks out the songs, unannounced to me, and it's my job to follow along, no sheet music. I'm starting to get the hang of it. Of course, I do have to watch him for the cord changes, especially if it's a tune I'm unfamiliar with. But for the most part, I'm hanging on and keeping up. That's something I could never do before. So practice is definitely paying off for me. The nights that I practice by myself, it's all about scales, intonation, vibrato, shifting. I wouldn't say I'm really good at those things yet, but I've gotten a lot better and much more comfortable, especially at shifting. 

Let the bow flow.

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Schaick
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March 12, 2015 - 8:01 am
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@fiddle chick   That is great!!  

I have to watch the guitar players for the chord changes at the jam I attend. hehe!! Who knew I would be learning guitar!!

A couple of months ago I could tell when there was a chord change without looking and now can consistently tell when there is a going to be a change!!

I still though have not mastered the ability to tell which chord a person is playing in.

Violinist start date -  May 2013  

Fiddler start date - May 2014

FIDDLE- Gift from a dear friend. A 1930-40 german copy, of a french copy of a Stradivarius.  BOW - $50 carbon fiber. Strings - Dominants with E Pirastro Gold string.

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RedViolin
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March 22, 2015 - 4:25 am
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Oh yes, indeed regarding the humidity on the water @Fiddlerman ! When I was away recently, we spent quite a bit of time on boats in a humid country to boot - glad I didn't have my violin with me!

Day 70 @fiddlechick70 ? So 2x 35 day challenges in a row? Fantastic stuff! Great that you and your boyfriend can play music together too :)

I've just finished 3 weeks now... but have sadly realised that I won't be able to make it to 35 days this time, since I'll be visiting family over Easter interstate, and can only take very limited luggage :( So it will be more like 33 days for me. Oh well, next time!

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