Hi there I have just started to learn the violin/fiddle in the uk.
I can read music and play flute up to grade 3 level.
I have just hired a Giovanni violin with dominant strings.
Now on my second day. I had a taster violin lesson a few months back which has helped me in regards to correct bowing technique , trouble is the guy who gave me the lesson is booked up at moment so I am making it up as I go along for now.
Its going well lots to think about and to take in , I am just practicing bowing open strings at moment and a few first position notes on E A and D string so I a going through process of building my muscle memory , I am trying to pay attention to bowing , holding the bow properly , left hand wrist positon etc .
I have couple of questions in regards to left hand when I try to play notes on G string.
I have been learning that its advisable to keep the inside of left hand index finger clear of the neck when playing so to avoid "gripping the neck so to speak , but when I come across to the G string I find it hard to keep the inside of index finger from not touching the neck.
So any thoughts on this would be great.
Second thing is when I play a note on first finger on a string and then move that finger to the next string playing same position on same finger I notice some noise either from the bow on the string it is leaving or maybe its some delay of the finger and bow lifting together to move to next string , should you aim to move bow and lift finger at same time or not ?
I realise I have a loooong road ahead but these are the things that are cropping up
Any advice would be great
Hi, welcome to the forum!
When I am playing the same finger position on the next string, I keep my finger down, and just slide it up or down to the appropriate string. The little string noise you are hearing is common when you are starting out, it's part of getting your fingers and bowing in sync. My teacher told me to just go slow and that it'll work itself out with practice.
World's Okayest Fiddler
thanks for reply I am a bit finger and thumbs at the moment but hopefully I will get there , it was a bit similar when I started on the flute but the challenge then wasn't finger placement but making a sound was ! took me three days to get any sound out of it.
Will violin prove to be more difficult than flute ? I think they are both difficult but for different reasons , apples and oranges I guess.
I think the muscle memory for the fingers will be similar to when I learned guitar but more physically demanding.
I thinking of probably getting a few stick on dots for a bit of guidance , I know some people are not keen on it but I think it may help like on guitar there is frets to guide you but after a while you don't need to look at your fingers anymore.
but then again I am still at the " how the heck am I going to learn this ?" but it was like that on flute , I remember trying to position the flute to my mouth and hold the flute in position and get a sound and it was like a slippery eel. it was hopeless at first.
Not a problem 🙂 It all feels very awkward at first. I'm not sure how it compares to learning other instruments, the violin is the only one I've tried learning, and have only been doing it for a year 🙂 But it does get easier, and before you know it, you won't feel awkward anymore.
World's Okayest Fiddler
I had a similar experience to yours - a teacher was able to give me some help and taught me just a little, but had no slots available for about 5 weeks. (You've gone months?! Ouch!)
One of the things he told me that first time was that violin is 90% right hand (bow) and 10% left. You could quibble about the percentages (maybe it's 80/20), but from what I've seen, he's more or less right.
So all the time you put in practicing proper bowing will pay you handsomely on down the line.
I'm in the no-tapes (dots) camp. He told me to learn intonation by ear, and it was much easier than I thought it would be. I still (at about 5 months) have problems hitting the note I want precisely, but it continues to improve, and I can almost always tell when I'm off.
The biggest thing is to be able to hear the note in your head. If you can sing or hum in tune, you can do that. Just do the first 5 notes of a scale, with the open string being the lowest note.
A good bow practice technique he gave me when I finally did get lessons - use a metronome and play one note per whole bow. (Start at one end and get all the way to the other by the end of that beat. Try about 35-40 BPM to start.) Do 1 down and 1 up. Then play two beats for one bow (always going end to end). Then 4, then 6, then 8, (and if you can, 12 and 16). Good for practicing bow control, a straight arm, playing fast, playing slow and playing in tempo. (I don't do it nearly as often as I should.) It's a good enough exercise that he still does it, and he's been playing 30-40 years.
Re difficulty of violin vs flute... I'd say to get to the "competent beginner" stage, it's not a lot harder than flute. Completely different set of problems, but the overall difficulty is probably comparable.
To get really good... I don't know enough about flute to offer a good comparison. I do know that people who have been playing 30-40 years can listen to something they did 10 years before and point out ways they've improved. It's a very deep instrument in that sense.
One example: Vibrato. There are four fingers, and every one requires a slightly different set of muscles (so you have to practice each of them). There are four strings, and playing it on each string is slightly different also. There are at least 3 (maybe more, I'm still a not-quite-beginner with vibrato) zones on the violin for doing it (up near the scroll, up high (pitchwise) on the strings, and in the middle), and the each present their own set of challenges. You should ideally be able to play a slow or fast vibrato and a wide or narrow one (wide referring to how much the pitch changes). So that's 4x4x3=48 things to practice into muscle memory to have a basic vibrato, and 48x4=192 things to have a good, expressive one. And all of this is with a set of muscles that you've probably never used before, so your subconscious has to figure out how to coordinate them so you'll have speed.
And there are a lot more techniques to learn for the right hand than the left. 🙂
That's not meant to discourage you - you can get to playing quite decently in a few months (damfino just posted "A year in Review", if you want to get an idea where you can get to in a year). But mastering it, I'm not sure anybody has ever done that fully. If it can be done, it's a 30-40 year process.
Hi Mark. I'm also from the UK and also a flute player first and violin second - imo the violin is harder, mainly due to the intonation issues. With the flute when you put your fingers down, the note is pretty much in the right place - not so with the fiddle! If my experience is anything to go by it will take you much longer to get a sound from the violin that you'd be happy for your friends to hear than the flute.
Anyway, good luck - it's worth the hard work once you start to see some progress.
Thanks all of you for taking the time to reply and all your advice ! I will try and adsorb it all.
Jim I don't quite agree with you on the matter of happy for someone else to hear me.
I could get an acceptable note far quicker on violin than on the flute , I think in the long term progress will be slower on violin that flute but initially the few notes I was playing yesterday sounded acceptable to me. Lots of mistakes but when I hit it right it sounded quite nice . 3 days in on the flute I would still be trying to get a sound out of the head joint ? and lots of breathy rasping sounds for a few weeks.
Again I feel the progress will be slower but easier initially to get an acceptable sound in my opinion.
Welcome Mark, @mac1012 - another British member here ( well, Scotland to be precise ). I guess having played other instrument(s) you'll get the intonation right pretty fast. The bowing is a whole different matter LOL !
Good luck with your journey !
I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes. D'oh -
Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)
You've gotten a lot of great answers, I just wanted to say welcome to the forum and welcome to violin!
Interesting that you have some experience with flute...I took flute VERY briefly (as briefly as I took violin - we're talking a couple of months) as a child and that's next on my agenda after I get this one down a bit more. 🙂
Both are beautiful instruments.
Good luck and have fun!
I also played flute for a couple of years. Flute is definitely easier!! Learning to play the violin is well worth the effort. I believe the violin to be so very expressive.
Stick with it!! Be patient and persistent!! You can do this!!
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.