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Multitasking
A half vent/half request
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (12 votes) 
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nykteria
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April 14, 2024 - 8:37 pm
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If my thumb is straight and relaxed, my bow hold is sloppy. If my bow hold is exact, my intonation is off. If I correct my intonation, my bowing gets crooked and if I correct my crooked bowing, then my thumb is no longer straight and relaxed. 

I had thought I could choose one of those things to focus on, make it a habit, and then when I had it down, move on to the others. Since it actually causes me pain to not do the proper thing, keeping my thumb straight and relaxed was my first choice. But my teacher wants me to "keep in mind" all these other things, and I know they're all important to a good sound. 

I've never been good at physically doing one thing with one hand and another with another. I'm struggling to pick up piano, despite being proficient in bass and treble clef and knowing where all the keys are on the keyboard and being able to play melodies with either hand, because coordinating them totally throws me. 

How do you manage keeping track of everything at once? Does it just happen after years of practice? Or did you pick one problem area at a time and solve it, or how did you go about it? 

~Sara

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ABitRusty
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April 14, 2024 - 10:28 pm
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I think alot of it is just keeping things in mind ..or be aware of them.  If youre having trouble with something kinda run through your checklist and see where youre at.

Big important thing is give yourself permission to enjoy something about playing.   Like some songs or tunes..  It cant all be about abstract prqctice kinda things. 

since you have a teacher maybe theres a concert or recital you can practice for to sorta have a goal to it all.   that helps alot more than I thought it would.

and dont beat yourself up... we all are going through same feelings just at different stages of our playing.  as long as you sorta keep those things in mind and keep at it..things will slowly start coming round.   gets better..keep at it.

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ELCBK
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April 15, 2024 - 1:09 am
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@nykteria -

Your thumb on your bow is straight? 😳  ...no.

What you hear & what your hands have to learn for piano is not like violin (to me)... might be double the work now, but double the rewards later!  

It's okay if you can't handle more than a couple demons at once!  I had to tackle the most obvious ones first - just do your best.

Be VERY generous in giving yourself TIME - T... I... M... E... to see progress. 

Learning has to be enjoyable.  ALWAYS end with something positive.  I figure if you can follow rhythm, bow straight on open strings, producing a good tone with the bow - you could accompany someone!  

 

Let's face it, you aren't going to have any intonation problems on piano! 

I think being able to identify intervals, scales & chords by hearing them will be helpful.  There are some great folks on the forum, with really good experience on piano, too.  I'm sure they'll give you support. 

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nykteria
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April 15, 2024 - 4:27 am
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ELCBK said

Your thumb on your bow is straight? 😳  ...no.

  

Sorry, I guess that was kind of confusing. I meant the thumb on my left hand. For some reason, if I pay attention to my right hand, my left hand tightens, or my thumb begins to bend and press into the neck. This is especially true if I'm trying to make sure that my left-hand fingers press down exactly on the tips. Using the BonMusica has helped, as has trying to place my fingers down with lighter force, but as I'm trying to get some new pieces down, as soon as I start paying attention to intonation or my bowing hand, back the thumb goes. It's like a toddler who is okay as long as it's supervised. LOL. 

I'm sure this is really good for my brain, to have to multitask in this way. Keeps it from getting lazy. :)   I'm having fun- I've increased my practice time by quite a bit since I got my new violin because it's actually pleasant to listen to. I just get flustered trying to pay attention to so much at once. 

~Sara

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nykteria
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April 15, 2024 - 4:48 am
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Big important thing is give yourself permission to enjoy something about playing.   Like some songs or tunes..  It cant all be about abstract prqctice kinda things. 

  

I think that's actually some of my issues, in a way. I decided since my teacher doesn't have recitals and there are no other groups for performing that aren't high-level, to do the ABRSM exam. That means learning four new songs. I'd been playing songs before, but they were kind of just random songs I chose because I wanted to play them. I like these new songs, but they're new, so I have to concentrate on something other than keeping my left thumb straight and relaxed, and as soon as I do, that thumb is doing whatever the heck it wants. 

I wish there were orchestras for novices in my area or some sort of playing group. I played for four years as a child but in elementary and middle school orchestras. The advantage was playing in a group; the disadvantage was that I can't remember anyone ever paying attention to things like positioning or intonation- if you were in the general area, they were happy. So I got to where I knew theory well, and I know very well how to put my fingers in the location that is listed on the page. But things like hand positioning and posture were either neglected or taught downright wrong. I had an old school district instrument that I don't think I ever changed the strings on in the four years I played. LOL. I've probably learned more in the six months I've played as an adult than I did in those four years. 

~Sara

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ABitRusty
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April 15, 2024 - 9:06 am
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I guess what Im trying to say is..

If youre playing music and its sounding good.. or like its supposed to.. youre enjoying that.. then I dont think it should be a case of yeah that was great but my thumb was all wonkey so i failed.

on the other hand...

if youre playing has some moments or issues that you dont like.. check your thumb from time to time and know what respositioning will do for you and how that affects your playing.  

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nykteria
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April 15, 2024 - 12:02 pm
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ABitRusty said

on the other hand...

if youre playing has some moments or issues that you dont like.. check your thumb from time to time and know what respositioning will do for you and how that affects your playing.  

  

It hurts when I don't hold it right- the tension causes pain in a very few minutes. I get immediate feedback if it's not right, so I am trying to be careful.

~Sara

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wtw
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April 15, 2024 - 12:55 pm
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I think "multitasking" is a myth. To me, keeping everything in mind means checking everything in turn, over and over : bow angle, left hand tension, relaxed shoulders, bow hold, finger placement, …

Granted it takes a lot of focus! Keep practising, you'll make progress. With time it will become 'habit' and you won't have to think so much about it.

In order not to 'saturate' your brain, maybe try to keep things as simple as possible ? For instance if you're practicing the right arm motion in order to keep a straight bow, you don't need to do it with a complicated tune, or with sheet music in front of you : open strings work just as well. Sure it'll get more tricky when you do try to deal with left hand difficulties at the same time, but it still pays off.

Don't hesitate to take breaks too, as many as you need (and anytime you feel any pain). Even if it's just a few minutes!

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stringy
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April 15, 2024 - 3:17 pm
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Thats why violin is arguably the hardest instrument to learn. For any instrument you have to multitask, it's all good fun I think?

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Sasha
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April 15, 2024 - 6:38 pm
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Multitasking is a myth, and people do not do it well.

What we can do though, is task swap. That is really the key of 'slow' practice, and that is something that took me a long time to learn. Oh sure, I used slow practice for years, and it never really did any good. What I was missing was slow with SUPREME ATTENTION AND FOCUS.

That was the key for me at least. Playing slow enough, that there was plenty of time to rotate my attention on each not. Bow grip. Bow placement. Bow weight. Okay, going slow bow speed doesn't work as well, but there is amount of bow. Left hand position. Finger placement. Intonation. Oh, and don't forget to check and make sure you aren't tensing up anywhere! :D

Yup. That's a lot of stuff to pay attention to. And that's for each and every note.

So, I found for me, I would slow it down. 60 BPM? good start. Still too fast to pay attention to all of that. So I would use 4 beats at 60 BPM for each quarter note. If that wasn't slow enough (usually that was) I would go 4 beats for 8th notes. And make sure I would play it as perfectly as I could, with rotating awareness. Then move to 80bpm, then 100, then 120. Back down to 60 and 2 beats per quarter note, repeat.

I don't use the clicks for timing, it is there to force me to slow down enough that I can rotate my attention enough so that I can do each note correctly. The side benefit is, doing it that way, and with that much focus and making sure you do each one correctly, you also train muscle memory very efficiently that way.

Now, the numbers aren't important, what is important, is finding out just how slow I need to be on an individual piece, or even phrase so I can do it that way.

It sounds like a painfully slow way to learn, but I have found for myself, learning it that way is so much faster. Mind you, I do not necessarily do this on every piece or even a full piece, but, if I cannot play something correctly in the first couple of tries, I will start breaking out this method on places I am not getting right.

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nykteria
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April 16, 2024 - 12:02 pm
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Sasha said
Multitasking is a myth, and people do not do it well.

What we can do though, is task swap.

  

That's probably more what I need to do. I do need to slow down. I find it very hard to play pieces below their stated speed, but it's necessary. 

~Sara

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Strabo
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April 21, 2024 - 2:21 pm
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Maybe it makes sense to think about two modes:

1. Instructional mode: Tim Galwey wrote The Inner Game of Tennis, arguably the single most important book ever written on sports and performance psychology. He identifies the instructional approach that he calls “Self 1", in which we consciously direct the specifics of our actions: shoulder position, bow hold, speed and weight of the bow, etc. It is necessary to drill and work on these skills and habits when we’re learning. But it’s a grind. It’s definitely more work than fun.

2. Performance mode or "Self 2” is where we let go of the micromanagement of the left-brained Self 1, and drop any focus on the mechanics of hands, arms, fingers,  placements, etc. It’s where  we let ourselves go and plunge into making music, avoiding self-criticism and disregarding any mistakes that may show up. Some people call this being “in the zone”. 

It’s easy to fall into a habit of letting Self 1 override and inhibit Self 2 -- we’re taught that from our earliest years in school. We need to learn to let that go for a while and allow ourselves to have fun and joy performing our music.

Darol Anger has a good quote: “You can’t be thinking when you’re playing."

And personally I think it’s important to maintain my mental health when I’m learning something as difficult as the violin. I certainly do not want to allow myself to become frustrated and possibly drop out, thereby wasting so much time and effort already invested! So I am careful to separate the two modes; I drill and grind on technique and challenging passages, and I also make time every day to let it fly!

Strabo

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