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Long time no play
Topic Rating: 0 Topic Rating: 0 Topic Rating: 0 Topic Rating: 0 Topic Rating: 0 Topic Rating: 0 (0 votes) 

February 9, 2020 - 12:42 pm
Member Since: June 18, 2015
Forum Posts: 261
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I haven't played a crotchet-1218 in a fairly long while. frownI really want to get back to playing/practicing and hope to be able to carve out at least an hour or so a dayclock. Family keeps me very busy and more often than not, exhausted and unable to concentrate.

While I haven't been playing I've still been reading and watching violin related content and have had time to think about what my issues were when I still did have time to play.

The major problems facepalmI've had:

-lack of teacher! 

-tension/not being able to play relaxed,





-(bad) posture

-form of bow arm

-not being able to quite get a grasp on proper bow distribution; it's still a mystery to me when to use how much bow with how much weight. I haven't been successful in finding much information on it either;

and last but not least:

-getting distracted and tangled up in mindlessly playing tunes instead of focusing on technique....

I'm sure there are more problems that I haven't caught yet.

Also, I'm questioning whether an upgrade in violin would help. I was playing on my old Stentor Student 1, unsure of sufficient quality.dunno

My violin fund has been slowly increasing, unfortunately, so have prices.


Enough rambling.

Fingers crossed for finding time and energy.droolingbeg

It's easy to play any musical instrument: all you have to do is touch the right key at the right time and the instrument will play itself. Johann S.Bach

Brora, North-east Scotland
February 10, 2020 - 7:07 am
Member Since: March 22, 2014
Forum Posts: 3744
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@AnnyJ - welcome back to the journey !

As for your list of "problems" ( "normal learning steps!" ) - well, I hear yah !   To be honest with you, right now, at the moment, I'm sure the Stentor is "good enough" to get your initial techniques and issues corrected and up to speed - I wouldn't necessarily rush out and upgrade - get comfortable with the Stentor.

However, having said that, there is nothing whatsoever wrong with looking at your longer term goals, and saving up for a better instrument.

Oh gosh - what I'm trying to say without intending to sound harsh or in any way discouraging is - a better instrument is not going to solve your basic issues. In fact, a "better instrument" can be more demanding to play in some ways ( much more responsive and requiring even BETTER bow control and so on - I experience this with my "top end instrument" ( an MJZ 905 ) - in other words student instruments are generally quite forgiving.

I too have never had a teacher, but there is indeed a huge amount of online resources freely available ( and yes, I have found they can almost be contradictory at times ) but it's definitely worthwhile investigating these.

Step 1 must be RELAX !!!! LOL - I'm sure many of your other issues come from that alone....

Good luck, I truly wish you the best on your renewed journey !

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes. D'oh - guntohead.JPG

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)


February 10, 2020 - 10:18 am
Member Since: September 9, 2016
Forum Posts: 447
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Hi AnnyJ,

I like the way BillyG worded that explanation. 

I can totally relate to what you're going through. There aren't any easy answers to the dilemma.There are plenty of free resources on YouTube that can help with the basics.Some of the paid online services are pretty good.Many of them will offer free videos here and there. 

I would try to find the source of the tension and develop ways to cope with it. Sometimes I need to take a few minutes to gather myself before I begin. Try some relaxation techniques. Some people go through a breathing stretching routine. I understand the need to "ramp down" after a hectic day. I can get pretty "keyed up" as well.

If you are playing by yourself with no assistance I would do my best to play in front of a mirror or better yet video yourself so you can compare your techniques to proper technique. You shouldn't need much pressure on the bow. Usually just the weight of the arm is enough without pushing.


February 21, 2020 - 12:32 pm
Member Since: June 18, 2015
Forum Posts: 261
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Thank you BillyG and STarise.


@BillyG don't worry, you weren't sounding harsh at all, and I do appreciate honest opinions. :-)  

Step 1 seems to be hardest thing to do, I'm naturally tense to begin with.

I've had but 10 minutes to spare in the last week or so, (there go my carving plans...gotta get a better time chisel, lol) Joke aside, there must be something wrong with my hold, since I could feel tension in my hand the minute I started holding. That being said, until that's fixed it would be of little use to start on bowing.

I'll have to dig out my Violin Lesson book, which is both a great resource and frustration at the same time. The author is very very detailed and it's hard to get hold of what he's talking about at times.

It's easy to play any musical instrument: all you have to do is touch the right key at the right time and the instrument will play itself. Johann S.Bach

Sacramento, California

February 21, 2020 - 1:12 pm
Member Since: November 5, 2017
Forum Posts: 1656
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Welcome back to the violin!

One thought: have you looked into Alexander Technique? A lot of musicians at all levels, from beginner to pro, have found that useful for reducing tension while playing.


February 29, 2020 - 10:29 am
Member Since: June 18, 2015
Forum Posts: 261
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AndrewH said
Welcome back to the violin!

One thought: have you looked into Alexander Technique? A lot of musicians at all levels, from beginner to pro, have found that useful for reducing tension while playing.


Thanks. I haven't heard of the Alexander Technique before, but I did look it up. Sounds like something that would be of benefit for me in general, not just with playing. :-)

It's easy to play any musical instrument: all you have to do is touch the right key at the right time and the instrument will play itself. Johann S.Bach


February 29, 2020 - 11:47 am
Member Since: February 11, 2014
Forum Posts: 633
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I am happy to see your name here again.

March 10, 2020 - 10:22 pm
Member Since: December 27, 2019
Forum Posts: 86
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It sounds like the same issues most of us have had while learning to play, you are part of a great club!   :D

I don't have the answers to anything, and take anything I say with a grain of salt, but I will share what I have found works for me, largely coming from my own experiences as a guitarist, and I have applied those experiences to other instruments.

1). The instrument itself.  I recently saw a statistic that was something along the lines of:  90% of people who spend $1,000 or more on their first violin keep playing, while 30% of people who spend $200 on their first violin keep playing.  But, that's just a statistic, and it does not measure a whole lot of other factors.   On the surface, it could be read as "if you spend more on a violin, you will be more likely to keep playing"

What's more likely going on though, is those who are more committed AND HAVE THE RESOURCES spend more on their first violins.  A very big difference there.  Since you are posting here, and listening and responding, I think you have that level of commitment to yourself in there.  You may stop for awhile, but you will go back to it.  I have done that from time to time over the years on various instruments.  I always go back, because I can't NOT play.  What I have learned over the years from that is, I don't beat myself up by thinking "If I had just kept playing X hours every day over X years think of how I could play now!"

I used to do that a lot.  Now I just try and get to the point of enjoying where I am at, and progressing from there.

Back to the instrument itself, I do have some personal criteria there.  It needs to have a look that inspires me to want to pick it up and play, and it needs to have a sound that makes me want to pick it up and play.  For me, electric guitars are easy that way. Give me $200 and I can find a used electric guitar that has the look and with another $200 worth of parts and work will play as well as any top of the line Gibson Les Paul at $3500.  Which is still a lot cheaper than in the violin world.

There are probably some gems in the rough out there, and you might be able to find something that has the look, and capable of putting out the sound you want, with some changes/upgrades.  I dunno.... violin is still a bit weird to me though, because bow has so much to do with it.  And I have probably rambled on enough on this part.

2) On mindlessly playing tunes instead of practicing technique AND tension.  I *never*, absolutely *NEVER* play mindlessly anymore.  That is a recipe for disaster for me.  It built a lot of tension, poor posture, poor and limiting technique, nothing good ever came of it for me.   Now, anytime I pick up or sit down at an instrument, it is mindful.  Whether it is sitting down to learn a technique or mechanic, or 'just' playing a song, I try to make it mindful.  What is the difference?  Technique for me tends to be slow and focused on the physical mechanics.   When I play a song, I dive in to the song, and feel it.

The mindfulness on technique/learning is a lot easier for me to describe.  I posted a thread here "Sasha's Secrets #1: Perfect Practice".  That is my approach to that area, and something that I found worked well for to overcome tension that crippled my guitar playing and had to overcome.

The diving into feeling and playing, that is a lot harder to describe.  I think I might have to take a look at that, it might be worth it just to share and understand more for myself how I got to that point.  That sounds like a good topic for "Sasha's Secrets #2" 

No, not that I know everything, but for me, writing and sharing solidifies a lot of things for myself, so I try to keep doing that. :D

3) Time to practice.  Finally, I never try to carve out an hour a day anymore.  For me, it's too overwhelming.  These days, I bite off a realistic chunk.  5 minutes a day.  And I have found, that is all it takes for me.  I never sit down to practice for an hour.  I only sit down to practice for 5 minutes.

The other part of it is, I have a specific goal for those five minutes.  It might be a technique, a passage in a song, or whatever.  But, it's just 5 minutes, no matter how busy my day is, I can squeeze in 5 minutes on one instrument or another, and work on something.

In reality, I end up spending more than 5 minutes and go longer and accomplish a lot more.  There is the occasional day, very infrequently, where I truly do just only spend 5 minutes, but the vast majority of the time, I end up getting in 20 minutes, 30 minutes, even more in practicing.   I admit, this is a mind game.  But for me, it works well.   So many days, I think "I am too tired for an hour.  I have too much other stuff to do.  etc..."

Giving myself 5 minutes, gives me just enough space and time to get out of all that crud going on in my head to let myself just enjoy and go with it.   And 99.9% of the time, that is all the space I need.

Anyway, take everything I said with a grain of salt, this is just some of the things that I have found work for *me* over the years.  If anything helps you or anyone else, totally awesome to the max! 

Fort Lauderdale
March 11, 2020 - 2:21 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 16398

Very interesting Sasha.
I like the research. 😁

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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