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Sometimes I think back to seeing the big cardboard box on the porch and unpacking my first violin and it doesn't seem like it could possibly have been 3 yrs ago. I have been having such a good time with this fun and intriguing instrument.
The 3rd year was a good one. It had some clearer milestones of learning to it since I took some classes on violin, recording and various elements of musicianship. Those help because I can think back and clearly recall things I didn't know or understand as well in the years before and that I gained from those classes. For me, that helps to avoid the tendency to just sort of blur over what I know and dismiss it as "nothing much". It reminds me of some of the work I have put in to getting better on the violin and in music and sound in general.
I'm still playing my 80$ electric violin and my 170$ "beginner" acoustic, and I still like them. They are holding up well and being dependable and I like the sounds I get, so gear upgrades aren't critical to me at this time. Besides, with the electric, there is more to consider than just what the instrument itself cost, since an EV on it's own doesn't sound like much. I'm playing it through gear I bought for guitar that cost considerably more than 80$. LOL With electric, the amp, effects and speakers and etc are as much of your sound as the instrument is, it is a "package deal".
I have had a few "epiphanies" in the past year that have affected my practice and playing.
One was realizing that being "creative" on an instrument doesn't "just happen". Oh, it might sometimes in brief flashes. But if you want creativity and innovation to be part of your personal sound and style, then you have to practice that or "exercise" might be a better word in some ways than "practice". So practising improvisation by playing against backing tracks in different genres has become an official part of my daily practice routine. It is a change from just practising songs I have heard or can find sheet for, so I am working on getting better at being able to just play off the top of my head and make up the music as I go along.
On a related point of creativity, I realized that I was putting most of my work into copying songs that other people wrote and usually entirely neglecting the music that I write. There are other people that will play "Nights In White Satin" or "Rose Tattoo" or "What Can You Do With a Drunken Sailor" and those songs will be heard by people whether I learn to play them well or not. But my own stuff, if I don't put in the work to polish and develop it and get it out, nobody will ever hear. So my own pieces shouldn't be the things I work the least on.
So my practice routine has changed a bit. I do open string bowing, scales and arpeggios to warm up, then spend some time jamming to backing tracks to get the fingers feeling a bit more nimble, then I'll work on a few songs by other people that I enjoy playing. Then I put in some time on one of my own pieces, and then some more improvisation, with or without backing, just to see what I can come up with. I jot down or make a quick junk recording of any transitions or rhythms or etc that I feel are current "problem children" and throughout the day I'll work on focused practice on those as short runs of notes repeated over and over against metronome or drum machine in bursts of 5-10 minutes, since that is about how long I can work something like a few notes or just a bowing rhythm or shift before I start to get bored and my attention and discipline will start to wander. Those few minutes, done daily for a week or so, give me some results I can hear and feel when I go to play.
Each week I also take one basic and necessary skill that can be practised like intonation or timing or dynamics and I find (or make up) some exercises to work on it with purpose and focus every day for that week.
I have started making 5 min a day to turn on the recorder and to just explore on the violin and try to find ideas that are new, that I haven't heard before. Then I add that 5 min recording to my daily "listen list" of stuff I listen to while on the computer or doing things around the house, to help identify new ideas for development, where I can write them into new songs/pieces.
So anyway... at 3 yrs, I'm feeling like I have learned a reasonable bit and have made some decent progress on the instrument. Looking forward to year 4, if the fates allow.
"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman
Congrats on completion of 3 years !
Even to me, two years behind you, "what can be done with the violin" constantly unfolds and expands to new horizons - and although as you hint at - a sudden-enlightenment can occur "in short bursts" before you can home-in on the actual technique in detail - it always brings a new degree of "awesomeness" when you uncover something new that actually works!
There really is no end to it, is there?
Get your head-down, work hard, and in your 4th year, spend time with your own music - I just KNOW you will not be disappointed !
I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes. D'oh -
Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)
Congratulations on your accomplishment!
I like your idea of sharing your journey of learning to play violin, so I would like to share mine as well and I hope you don't mind I "hack" your thread. Thank you!
I just realized that my daughter is heading into her 5th year of violin lessons, which means soon for me. Time flies, it has been almost four years since I picked up my first violin.
I had never thought I would be playing violin, even four years ago. I could play several instruments and had formal lessons in piano, organ, and carillon but not good in any. I always wanted to have my daughter to learn to play piano but was not able to find a teacher for her. Then I went to our violin teacher's workshop for parents and a realization came to mind -- my nephew who is a great pianist but he cannot carry his grand piano wherever he goes and neither could I, so if my daughter plays violin then when she is off to college, she could carry her violin with her. I signed my daughter up for her trial lesson with our violin teacher and we both fell in love with violin. We learned about the parts and string names. It was fascinating for both of us. I want to learn along with my daughter (after all I sat in her lessons) and be good in playing one instrument - violin. She began to take lessons in July 2011, and in August I bought myself a cvn 500 and began to learn along with her and from internet.
I was very into it for a few months. Then I hit a bottle neck and quit for a few months then I only play once in a while for a while for the next year or so to show my daughter what she should be doing. Then my daughter and I both wanted to quit, she wanted to quit because her friends quit piano and she was very reluctant to practice, so her practice became a struggle for both of us and I quit practicing with her so I would not push her too much and totally killed her interest in violin. My husband took over practicing with her and I quit. When I was in the mood and picked up my violin to play I found myself not progressing. I could play children's songs and some of my favorite folk songs by ear, and most of the songs in Suzuki book one and mel bay but never beyond that.
I have a violin and I want to be able to play my favorite songs on my violin so after some thoughts and with my husband's encouragement, I began to take lessons with my daughter's teacher in November 2013. She insisted I started from beginning, which I am glad. I went through Suzuki book 1 pretty quick and moved onto book two. When I was through 3/4 of book two, I hit another bottle neck - it was bored. My teacher noticed that so she had her other adult student playing duets with me and I began to wonder off to music of my teacher's choice or my choice. That really helps maintain my interest in continuing to learn to play violin.
My daughter progressed to Suzuki book 4 in March this year. It is then I realized that she is way ahead of me. There are many techniques I cannot help her any more. That's when I decided to go back to finish Suzuki book 2 and catch up with her. So now I am about half way in Suzuki book 3 and working on shifting as well. Whereas my daughter is on the third piece (about 1/3) of book 4. I don't think I will ever catch up with her but at least I could keep my skill level closer to hers so when she needs help I could help.
One thing good about learning along with my daughter is we listen to Suzuki CDs a lot and I hear her play a lot, so when I learn to play pieces in Suzuki books, I picked them up a lot faster - it's like I learn to play by ear.
One huge mistake I made was I upgraded my violin too soon. I upgraded my cvn500 when I had it for about six months and thought better sound would motivate me to practice more. I also thought a smaller size violin would be easier on my hands, fingers, and wrists. I bought a 7/8 gliga gem 1 workshop violin. The sound of the new violin did sound a little better than my cvn 500; however, I was never satisfied with it - there's was always little thing with it that bothers me. Unfortunately, I gave my cvn 500 to my niece soon after I purchased my second violin thinking it was a great violin and my daughter could use it when she is big enough. I wish I make the upgrade now (or even later) that I am at higher level and know more about violin.
Then I bought a Stainer copy. It was listed as a 3/4 size, but it was a full size. I did not want to spend the money to ship it back so I kept it. It is okay, loud. The only thing is it feels huge - it is even a little bigger than my cvn 500 and has a big belly. I strung it into a viola. I also have a dream of having a roll of violin from 1/64 to full size, so far I have a mendini 300 1/32 (can't make good sound out of it), Suzuki 220 1/10, a cvn 500 1/4 (my daughter's first violin), a 1/2 that my daughter and I built from a kit (just gave the Anton Breton that I worked on quite a bit back to my teacher), a Hopf 3/4, (the 3/4 kit is not done yet), a 7/8 Gliga, and a 4/4 Stainer copy. Well, I also have a 4/4 bird kit and a 5-string bird eye kit need to be completed, and an old German 4/4 needs to be repaired. I guessed I gave up on my box violin - may be it could be a decorative one:) I guess from learning to play I became a hoarder. Good thing about being a hoarder is, sometimes when I practiced I switched violins and it made my practice interesting and made me practice longer 🙂
I love reading your story of you and your daughter and the violins.
Reading of your journey and Daniels is a wonderful for others to be motivated.
The different approaches to play, the hind sight, the triumphs, and set backs. It helps to know that these things happen to many of us.
I finish up this fourth year at the end of this year. I am a bit disappointed with my progress, and much behind comparatively as I am undisciplined. But I do know a lot of good songs and I am faster at learning a new piece and I can listen and hear my mistakes and actually make changes that sometimes work.
Yahoo.. Thanks for you story. 😉
Happy Playing to you and your daughter.
Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato
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