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I am wondering about what plans or system self-teaching violinists use to learn the violin.
As most of you know, I lost violin instructor due to all lessons except 2 having been cancelled this year, so I had to cancel her. No biggy, I switched back to cello lessons, and so far this young college student instructor is really good and serious about it, so I am good.
I am continuing my violin on my own, but will be using my new found cello instructor for violin after I get further along on cello. I will then alternate violin and cello instructions with him. Until then, any suggestions about how you self teach?
Should I continue with my Essential Elements for Strings violin? Should I just pick a song that is at my level and work on that, and maybe one that might be a stretch and has a bit more of what I have issues with? Work on them and when I get either one down pat, pick another song to replace that one? Combine the latter with the Essential Strings book somehow?
I had not done anything beyond first position in lessons, or on my own. I have no idea what double stops are. I have heard them mentioned here, but do not know what they are, so I have probably not done them. I am kind of leery to do either of that without an instructor because I am currently having to break bad cello habits from poor earlier cello lessons. I don’t want to have to do that again. The cello lesson went well today and I have made progress but I don’t want to teach myself bad habits on my violin. If either of these things would most likely not have bad habits show up, I am game.
Issues that I have with any instrument include: timing, not being able to do fast songs fast (“allegro” freaks me out as soon as I see it), and intonation.
I also have an issue with being freaked out by music with a lot of black. This means, eighth notes, sixteenth notes, etc. I mentioned this to my cello instructor today. We do sight reading at each lesson, so far. The page he went to today had a lot of eighth notes. I explained to him my issue. I said, “Just so you know, I do have a problem with music with a lot of black notes.” He laughed and asked about it. I told him that as soon as I see a lot of eighth or sixteenth notes I get panicked. I told him that I am game if he is. I told him that I am not against trying it (Not verbalized: but instructors never let me do it slow to begin with). He said we will just take it slow. We did it slow and I was fine. He said it is a mental block. He also said, “You can totally do this.”
This issue makes no sense because I can take a slow or medium tempo song that I can play really well, on any instrument I have puttered around with, that is quarter notes, half notes and whole notes and just a couple eighth notes, and play it like it is eighth notes and sixteenth notes after I have gotten really smooth with it. I can speed it up, but when I see sheet music that is eighth and sixteenth notes, it freaks me out. Nothing but trouble, even slow. That is another issue.
Given these issues, how would be the best way to go about continuing with my violin until I can alternate between cello lessons and violin lessons? I don’t want to just stay stagnant where I am. I don’t want to keep playing these same songs that I already know, over and over. I would like to improve and advance at least a little.
Another issue that having only had instructors that used Suzuki, I have never ever done any songs with keys that have flats, or incidental flats. They, as a result, also freak me out. I know what they are, I know they are basically the sharp of the note below it, but it freaks me out. I also have no idea where to do them on the fingerboard if it is going to cause my first finger to have to go beyond first position towards the nut, or beyond the fourth finger out of first position. Never been there in my songs, because I have not been out of first position.
Another issue I have with violin, but not cello, is the fingering for C natural.
What plan of attack do you all use? I am just flustered about how to go about it in an organized way. My thought and learning process really needs structure and organization. Without that I always feel lost and not able to progress.
Good to know I'm not the only one fricking out about a lot of black notes. Even when it's a slow piece, the 8th and 16th scares me. For me it helps to just look closely at each and every measure and play through it slow. Usually it's not as hard as it seem at first. Another thing that I find helpful is to write out the piece in quarter notes in Musescore, makes it easier to see what's going on.
Best way to improve is to add new challenges every couple of weeks or maybe in a month time. Could be a new bowing technique, new rhythm, time signature or maybe a key. When you feel comfortable doing the new thing, it's time to move on. Go back to the old stuff frequently, but you should always strive for new challenges.
For intonation practice I highly recommend drone practice. Fiddlerman have great drones on this page and a video on drone practice as well. Another tip is to play along with recordings. I personally use a program called Songs2See for intonation practice, which have a great learning feature that doesn't allow you to progress in the song before you've hit the right note. This have helped me a lot in consistency in hitting the right notes, as well as helping me figure my way through key signatures I'm not familiar with.
'Armed with theory, practice becomes meaningful. Through practice, theory becomes fulfilled.' - Egon von Neindorff.
I had been making great progress with intonation, but with the few notes outside of first postion that I have run across, I have slipped a bit. Very disappointing. I was making such progress. I create so many mental roadblocks for myself and I do believe that is what a lot of my issues are, self created. I know I can do it. I just need to make myself know I can, without making it too challenging where it defeats me, or I defeat myself.
Yes, I break those measures with all those little black notes down, but the minute I put it together, out the window. I am working ln a minuet with my cello instructor that has eigth notes. It is one that I had been doing with the violin, and it was also one that was covered in previous cello lessons. I had a lot of issues.
This version in the EE For Strings Cello was a tad different. There are two identical measures with two eight notes followed by two quarter notes. In the Suzuki book it has 2 sixteenth notes and an eighth note followed by the quarter notes. I popped that in out of habit. It happens in the middle and at the end, I did it both times. He said I popped a note in. Had no idea what he was talking about. Then he showed me. I didn’t realize it. He said, “You can totally do this”. We did it again, I just popped those 16th notes in instead of rhe 8th notes. That statement, “You can totally do this” helped. Maybe if I think of that before I start, it will be a tiny crutch. It sure made my cello practicing this morning go smoother. Shohld work for my violin.
Well, have to make one more sweater sleeve on my knitting machine, then I can practice my violin. I think that I will do a song I know to warm up and then tackle another that has those dreaded 8th and 16th notes and break it down.
Love this forum. So much encouragement.
I think you are probably overloaded with advice by now. You don't need double stops or higher positions than 1st.
But I think you should stick with Suzuki book 1 and practise some easy scales until you get faster, then allegro won't freak you out. A lot of scales have a similar structure, so you needn't worry about Ab, Eb or Bb yet. One day you'll find they are the same as some of the other scales you play, just in a slightly different position on the strings.
You can start with the F major scale (one flat after the open A string), then do Bb (two flats) starting on the G string - it uses open D and A strings, and its relative minor is G minor, which you might play together with G major.
I find the note of C can be a tricky one to find. The way I usually do it is to find a convincing FAC arpeggio on the D and A strings.
If you mean on the G string, I usually listen for the perfect fourth and use the open D string as a check, or you can play the first four notes of the G major scale.
@Gordon Shumway Thanks. I do have scale books. I am not using the Suzuki books. I am usimg Essential Strings with the online interactive ability.
Last night I started using one of my scale books. My former instructor did not like to do scales and would not do them, I brought them to my first lesson. She nixed it. Since I am comfortable reading scales with sharps, and scales with flats freak me out, I will do as you suggest with the flat keys. I will start with F major as you suggested. I think you are right with the scales.
I will leave double stops for later, as well as shifting out of first. I need to get comfortable with all the notes in first. It is that systematic way my learning process works. It has to make sense and have an order to the process. Which is why I like Essential Strings. That plays a big part in my choosing a lesson book series to work with on my own. I believe, how the individual student’s learning and thought process works needs to be taken into consideration. I think that statement actually falls in line with another thread I read on this forum, I will have to find it and add that comment.
Last night I worked scales, followed by a couple songs from my EE book. One song was simple and straight forward. The other had some 8th and was labeled “allegretto”. Freaked me out, but the key was one I can do the notes with. I thought about my advice and ebncouragement I have received here and have started working on it. I am working on the first section, about 4 measures right now. It takes a little turn for a little while after that and then goes back, typical pattern. The middle section is a little more detailed. Will wait until I am comfortable with the first part, then I will break the middle down. I will not be defeated.
A tip for working on F major, keep your hand in the same position as for G major. Instead place only your finger behind the hand position, you'll have to do that on both the Bb and F natural. I learned that the hard way.
'Armed with theory, practice becomes meaningful. Through practice, theory becomes fulfilled.' - Egon von Neindorff.
@Fiddlerman If Imhave tomdo a C natural in a sing with the B before it or a D after it on the A string, I can never get my finger correct. If I am just playing that particular C note in its own, no problem. I can do it in a sing or scale over and over really really really slow, but to do it at a natural speed in a scale, forget it. I practice it over and over on it own going from B to C, D to C. B, C, D and then D, C, B. That fine if I go really really slow. But putting it into a scale or song, no matter how, that C is a miss and also causes the B to be a miss if it follows it is before it.
Now, the odd thing is, the G natural in the E string is not that big of an issue. The B flat natural in the G string is not that big a deal, but, I can’t think of a somg where I have gone from B flat to A . If I did, I never paid attemtion to it
@Gordon Shumway @fiddler Now Gordon, don’t confuse me. I have to look up Chromatic scale. I have heard of it, and may have known at one point, none of my lessons include theory. I can’t figure it out. I actually mention it, and no instructor ever deals with it. My former violin teacher would not even do scales. She said she does not like them. My new cello instructor has done a different scale at the beginning of each lesson.
Maybe there is a chromatic scale in one of my scale books. Should be, right? Will check after I quilt the two Graffiti Quilts and make some pizza dough.
Now, I have to find the Chromatic scale and decide on a fingering? Is there a difference, as far as benefits for my C natural issue?
Found the chromatic scale. Wow! A page full of little tiny black notes! I need to find a better one. I need magnifying glasses for this copy. Maybe online will have a download.
Will check Fiddlerman downloads first.
Those little black notes are walking all over the page like ants!
Wish my printer had an enlargement option. Pretty sure a better copy will be online somewhere.