Please feel free to share. “The Little Drummer Boy Project”
Hey everyone! Another beginner question for ya, and apologies if this is in the wrong section.
I know that there's about a billion things I'm working on developing at this stage, i.e. bowing straight, finger placement, form and all that, to help produce a nice sound, and the main thing I'm noticing is that after just a few minutes of practicing my arms and hands and fingers and wrists are TIRED. I'm a little embarrassed at how weak I am! Just holding up a bow makes my shoulder burn after a couple of minutes, not to mention my left wrist (the one that holds the violin). I just feel weak all over. Does anyone have exercises specific to the muscles used for playing the violin to help build them up? Weight lifting, etc.
It's frustrating because I want to keep playing, but after a half hour of practicing and my arm is so tired that my bow bounces all over the place, and my wrist aches from trying to get my fingers in place on the strings. I'm sure some strength will come in time if I just keep at it, but I'd like to help it along. Any tips are appreciated!
I don't know any weight training etc >> I also went through what you are going through. It is not cause your weak, etc. Just takes time. Your using parts of your body that ya just haven't used before. It will dissipate as time goes on. Proper form and most of all a relaxed position are the biggest hurdles to overcome. I was always very tense when I would play and that just didn't help at all. Getting the instrument comfortable on my shoulder without digging into my collarbone was a big one but NOW > these issues are not a problem anymore. Just keep at it > it will pass.
One main way I think of the violin is that it is a physically-demanding instrument to play. That may be good for one's health, as it motivates one to look harder for the causes of health problems that might interfere with playing. Some of the pains of playing may raise awareness of the effects of things like diet and exercise.
Looking just to conditioning, though, you might consider taking more frequent breaks, say a half minute out of every five, to let your muscles and circulation catch up. I particularly notice that the twist of the left arm is pretty demanding. Leaving the arm in that position for too long might affect the circulation.
Also you might look out for excessive tension, which indicates that you may be able to operate more efficiently by changing your form. Try to spend the minimum energy to accomplish any little operation.
Here you go. I had to do it outside cause of sleeping babies, and had to macguyver myself a camera stand out of books, hence the binder spiral at the bottom. Sorry!
Also, I totally thought I was tuned up before recording, but I must've either knocked it out of tune while setting things up, or it was the heat, or maybe I never had it properly tuned in the first place. Also also wik, upon viewing I noticed my bowing is ALL OVER THE PLACE. I thought I was doing so well! I blame it upon nerves.
(Can someone tell me how to get the video to show up in a post, instead of having to link to it? Thanks.) (Nevermind, I'm an idiot.)
P.S. Raise your hand if you hate watching yourself on video.
Thanks guys. It's actually been about four weeks now. That relaxation part is difficult; I tend to tense my right shoulder especially which I think lends to bowing crooked, and yes, my right hand is pretty stiff. Pierre, I've been doing the "silent practice" thing with the bow, where you lift it up and down using just your fingers. It's tough and my range is limited, but I know in time it'll probably get better. Even if there were no other benefits to learning the violin (of which there are many), I think practicing patience is definitely one of them.
I'll keep on truckin. Today I managed to tune it without a drone, just using my ears and listening for the perfect fifths. Yay!
As people have already stated, you're doing great.
Regarding your bow hold:
There is more than one style of bow hold. Unless I am wrong, Pierre in his videos teaches what's called the Franco-Belgian hold or a variation on it. It seems to be the most common hold nowadays, and it's the one I use. I have found what I think are a few key points that I don't think are mentioned often. You might want to try them to see whether they help your hold. This comes from my own experience and analysis. If I make some mistake, I'd be indebted to whoever would correct me.
I don't think the pinky need be very bent at all times. Assuming a "paintbrush" bowing action, the pinky will straighten somewhat on the upbow and be more curved on the downbow.
To get some insight into the hold, try holding the bow with just two digits: you can hold the stick with the thumb TIP on one side and the middle bone of the middle finger on the opposite side. That point on the stick is like a pivot point for the hold as it changes between upbow and downbow.
The thumb straightens if you put the fleshy part of it on the stick. Keeping the stick on the very tip of the thumb ensures that the thumb remains bent and that the pivot point is maintained. So you just have to stay on the thumb TIP.
I've done some bow-hold agility exercises similar to what you've mentioned. I think of the hold as usually presented as a kind of "central position" or "rest position" or "ready position". The demands of bowing situations require temporary departures from the central position. The idea is that regardless of how far from center you go while playing, you are always able to return to it. So my exercise is to move the bow in every direction and orientation as far from the central position as I can and yet be able to return to it. I push the hold to its limits in the exercise, regardless of whether those limits are ever reached by anyone when actually playing.
How impressive is that?
Firstly, your tone is lovely for such a short time playing. Don't worry about your fingers bending, that will come soon. Maybe start out by being physically aware of your left wrist, and your right elbow. If your elbow is too high you get tired quicker, and if the left wrist is too tense, same.
Bowing is a practise thing ... eventually, and using a mirror and video, you'll learn to use that feedback to correct yourself.
But most impressive is that you actually put a video of yourself on this forum! Most of us took months to gather the courage to do that, even though that's what we're all here for. You'll never get negative feedback here, nor will anyone laugh at your efforts even if they sound feeble to you. (Just check on some of the videos I've posted! And people were always constructive in their comments.)
Welcome. Hope you find the forum as helpful as I have.
If you think you can, or you think you can't, you're probably right.