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Critique needed
Lessons aren't in the budget right now. I'd appreciate some feedback on what I need to do to improve.
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ThomasWMoore
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December 9, 2017 - 8:30 pm
Member Since: December 9, 2017
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Hey everyone,

Lessons aren't in the budget right now. But I know that getting feedback and pointers is important to my progress. Viola actually, not violin.

I've only been playing for two weeks. Don't want to develop too many bad habits that will be hard break later on.

Could you take a minute? Give me a few things to focus on moving forward...?

Practice video week 2

Thanks

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Mark
Honorary advisor
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December 10, 2017 - 12:18 am
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Thomas, welcome to the forum,

Your intonation is very good, your form looks good to me, you do appear to be very tense both your bow grip and your left hand. Easy to say but hard to do and that's to learn to relax. I'm still fighting getting tense at times and I will verify a quote I heard and scoffed at when I heard it, until I experience it "tension is the enemy" it can hamper our playing in so many ways and possibly lead to injury! Try practicing long slow bows and enjoy playing your instrument.

 

Mark

Master the Frog and you have mastered the bow.

Albert Sammons

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AndrewH
Sacramento, California
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December 10, 2017 - 2:28 am
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The single biggest thing I see that needs to be worked on is the shape of your left hand. It looks like your fingers are often very flat when you put them on the string; that's going to reduce your agility and and make vibrato very difficult later.

I notice that your hand is extremely low. Ideally, the knuckle at the base of your index finger should be about the same height as the fingerboard. I'm not sure from this angle what needs to be adjusted, because I can't tell where your thumb is. But... the neck of your instrument should rest loosely on the side of your thumb, and you may need to rotate your elbow a little to the right to allow your hand to reach higher.

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JamesRSmithJr
New Jersey, USA
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December 10, 2017 - 11:44 am
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Congrats and welcome to this journey we are all on..

Your left wrist needs to be straight, right pinkie needs to be curved and use more right elbow/less shoulder...

And as said above, relax (easier said then done).  Tension is not a good thing.

To play a wrong note is insignificant;  To play without passion is inexcusable.  - Ludwig van Beethoven 

 My journey began on Aug 3 2017

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damfino
oHIo, USA
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December 10, 2017 - 2:23 pm
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Am I right in thinking viola the wrist is supposed to be a little rounded? I've never played, but my teacher started out as a violist, and I thought I remembered her saying that, and that is why now that she plays violin when she sees performance pictures, the first things she looks at are her left wrist and her hair, haha. So if that is correct, then your left wrist is ok.

I would say to swing your left elbow more to make moving from string to string easier for you, and it also keeps your fingers finding the notes in the same place on each string, you looks like your fingers are moving more to reach the notes than they should need to. For example, when playing the .... what is the highest up string on the viola, C? When you play the C your elbow will be swung out in front of the A string, and you swing back as you move strings, ending with the A (? sorry, trying to remember Viola string order, haha) and your elbow swung back towards the C string side of the neck. It looks like you are kind of doing that, but moving your fingers more than your arm.

Other than that, relax. Allow the neck to relax a little, too, it might be the angle of the camera, but it looks like it points kind of high, making you have to reach up more than needed, causing the flatness of your fingers others mentioned. 

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Bella86
Sweden
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December 10, 2017 - 3:48 pm
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As others have already pointed out, your left hand seem low and fingers land too flat on the strings. I also reacted to your left wrist being bent, but as damfino mentioned that this might be correct when playing viola, you should look that up. (maybe you already have) Also make sure to keep your finger nails VERY short, so that your finger is able to land right on the string! I rarely see this mentioned so thought I would. 🙂  

You seem to keep the bow very parallell to the bridge which is great, although it's hard to tell at this angle. 

You're very tense all over. But I'm pretty sure this will ease up over time, 2 weeks is nothing. I've only played the violin since august, and although I havent had that much problem with it, I'm still tense enough to make my bow shake a bit on downbows. I always start with a few minutes of open strings when i practice, in the beginning the first 20 minutes was just open strings. I do slow bows and try to focus on relaxing. I also do the one-minute bow exercise, which I think might be helping, as my bow doesnt't shake as much anymore.  

I too had the locked out pinkie on the bow, I felt like it was the only way to counteract the weight of the bow. I solved this in just 1 week by doing an exercise occasionally at work, and on the couch in the evenings with a pen. It built up the strenght in my pinkie enough to let it round. You take a pen and hold it like you'd hold the bow, and then you pull your fingers up, then let them relax, and repeat. There are more simple exercises that can be done anywhere, anytime, that help build finger flexibility and strenght. I suggest google. 🙂

You intonation sound good so far! 🙂 I hope you're enjoying learning !

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AndrewH
Sacramento, California
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December 11, 2017 - 2:03 am
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damfino said
Am I right in thinking viola the wrist is supposed to be a little rounded? I've never played, but my teacher started out as a violist, and I thought I remembered her saying that, and that is why now that she plays violin when she sees performance pictures, the first things she looks at are her left wrist and her hair, haha. So if that is correct, then your left wrist is ok.

I would say to swing your left elbow more to make moving from string to string easier for you, and it also keeps your fingers finding the notes in the same place on each string, you looks like your fingers are moving more to reach the notes than they should need to. For example, when playing the .... what is the highest up string on the viola, C? When you play the C your elbow will be swung out in front of the A string, and you swing back as you move strings, ending with the A (? sorry, trying to remember Viola string order, haha) and your elbow swung back towards the C string side of the neck. It looks like you are kind of doing that, but moving your fingers more than your arm.

Other than that, relax. Allow the neck to relax a little, too, it might be the angle of the camera, but it looks like it points kind of high, making you have to reach up more than needed, causing the flatness of your fingers others mentioned.   

Hand and wrist positions vary greatly between violists. It's a big, awkward instrument for almost everyone. A violist with big hands may be able to play the same way as a violinist. A violist with smaller hands will have to make adjustments in order to reach the notes, so many violists play with more rounded wrists.

You're exactly right about the elbow, and left arm position is especially important on a viola for the same reason. Because the instrument is larger, most violists play with their thumb lower and left elbow farther to the right than violinists, in order to raise their fingers high enough. That's what I was trying to get at.

Oh, btw, the strings from low to high are C, G, D, A. The C string is where the violin G string would be, the A string is where the violin E string would be.

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ThomasWMoore
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December 14, 2017 - 8:21 am
Member Since: December 9, 2017
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Thank you guys all so much!

All of these points have been really helpful. Particularly about my left hand position. I'm influenced by years of guitar playing (and teaching) when the thumb must be planted firmly on the back of the neck. I've already felt improvement in my finger placement.

 

Thanks again for all of your comments.

 

Maybe I'll post again in a few months to get some more feedback

 

TOm

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
December 14, 2017 - 10:47 am
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 13391

Congratulations on great progress in a short amount of time.

Lots of good advice above. Great start and you get a critique badge. 🙂

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