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My teachers tip of the week
advice to help me improve (and maybe you)
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (12 votes) 
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ratvn
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April 23, 2013 - 8:40 pm
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pfish said

the tip?   Dont wait until you are 3 years into your learning to get a grasp on dynamics! start working on it now!

Thank you, pfish. This is where I have so much problem. Most of the musics that I've been around with don't really use dynamics (in a sense).

Will be so much extra work, lol.

Thanks again for the tip.

thumbs-up

 

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Picklefish
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April 28, 2013 - 10:44 pm
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well guys, my lesson is tommorow and I dunno what he is gonna say but I can tell you the tip I want to share is

Use the metronome! ha ha, recent forum topics aside it really has helped me with my finger speed, bowing speeds, bowing lengths, vibrato training, timeing, (I tend to lag a bit) etc....it is such a useful tool and dont worry bout sounding robotic or mechanical when playing, its just a training tool. You can still perform with emotion.

Again, dont be like me and wait years to do the stuff you should be doing now, you will thank me for it!

 

https://fiddlerman.com/fiddle-.....metronome/

"Please play some wrong notes, so that we know that you are human" - said to Jascha Heifetz.

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StoneDog
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Yes >> The MIGHTY METRONOME > it has the power to drive oneself NUTs!!!!!!!

 Agreed on the metronome. I have been using it since I picked up this crazy instrument a few months ago. It is always a part of my practice periods. I used to use it a lot when I would practice riffs up and down the neck on my guitar. It may appear mechanical but when one moves on to playing with others, or just oneself the muscle memory that the metronome develops is a huge plus and ones timing is greatly improved.

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Picklefish
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Sorry this update is so behind Ive been distracted lately and missed a whole day of practice even.

So last monday I went to my lesson and I was playing faster and accurate thanks to working with the metronome. Now comes the fine art of dynamics, and not just when to blast it loudly but the art of slowly increasing or decreasing loudness. This was very interesting because it included a slight speeding up of some notes to create a sort of powerful building effect that is hard to describe, like creating intensity through sound. And of course post crescendo, "floating" the notes to slowly reduce that intensity as it descends to softness, like how a feather swings in the air as it floats to the ground. I had a good time with it and of course really learned the difference between ppp-p-f-fff levels of sound.

I tend to get tunnel vision focusing on playing the notes and dont always see the dynamic markings coming up to be able to react to them in time. This has become a new way of learning to see all the music when I play. Memorization helps relax my eyes too when trying to take it all in.

So my tip? When playing dynamically, there are more than just loud and soft settings. Play with the passion and emotion that allows more gradual changes in loudness, but also sufficient enough that its noticeable. Its fun when you get the hang of it.

 

My other issue of that day was that I am still stuck using a third of the bow length so I have to really practice what seems to me is a very exagerrated bowing. Its necessary to fit in all the notes that are slurred together and be able to project the loudness. It also seems to be loosening up my stiff sore shoulders.

"Please play some wrong notes, so that we know that you are human" - said to Jascha Heifetz.

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Freq
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May 2, 2013 - 6:12 pm
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Thanks for these updates Pfish! I appreciate these tips wery much!

Practice don't make perfect, practice makes permanent.

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Fiddlerman
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May 3, 2013 - 9:02 pm
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Good advice,

Be as expressive when you play the violin as you are when you tell a very interesting, emotional story.

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

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coolpinkone
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May 4, 2013 - 12:35 am
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Rob... love this tip.

I was talking to a violinist on  Thursday about this.. one who appears so far to be trained well ...and she said.. to get into it..that you can't really play it if  you don't get into it.. and I think that is what you were saying right?  awesome..

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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Picklefish
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@CPO- you are right. I used to watch musicians especially violinists and wonder why they swayed and rocked and moved when they played. I used to think the whole deal was very melodramatic. Now I realize that they are relaxed and really into the music, maybe even seeing visions who knows? I hear the masters talk about seeing colors for instance. When I started playing more dramatically I could kinda feel where those emotions come from. I feel corny still but the more I do it the easier for it to feel normal it is. Im such a wall flower personality ya know, this is extremely extroverted playing it seems to me. Not sure if I will get there, Id probably start laughing at the seriousness of it all.

"Please play some wrong notes, so that we know that you are human" - said to Jascha Heifetz.

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DanielB
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May 4, 2013 - 2:12 pm
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In the purely practical sense, body motion can also be a way of keeping timing, or of smoothing out certain moves.  I'm not the best at tapping a foot to keep time, so I tend to use a bit of sway or whatever when playing to keep the timing steady.  It also can help keep your muscles from tensing up. 

But any performer also has to think a bit about the visual element.  It is usually possible to play most instruments while barely moving, but what audience wants to see that?  It is part of the expression of playing, and something that at least some people in bands intentionally practice, not from the perspective of being melodramatic so much as sort of showing the audience how the music feels.

Or, think of a stage magician.  By where they look and their gestures, they direct the attention of the audience.  There wouldn't be any extra points in a performance for looking bored and boring while playing some complex bit you worked hard on.  Acting like it is something impressive is part of how the audience knows they should take note of it. 

 

"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

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Fiddlestix
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May 4, 2013 - 5:04 pm
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@ pfish;   Don't worry, moving and swaying is all part of showmanship, it get's the onlooker's in the mood, like Daniel said and helps with timing, and seeing color's is ok too, as long as it's not pink elephants.  wink  dazed

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coolpinkone
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May 4, 2013 - 6:37 pm
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ha ha.. Pink elephants.  :)   Love it.  (I am thinking Disney's Dumbo... pink elephants on parade...)

Okay..so all this being said... I don't want to move for the audience... but if putting my body language and my "all" into it helps relax and I play better.. I am all for it.

I am aware of some swaying and moving that is not very flattering...it almost looks like a toddle dancing side to side.

So while I don't want to be afraid to feel it and show it.. I don't want to have a weird playing face or stance... (like someone with ugly singer face...)...

Does that make sense... too much thinking ??

Just some comments that were brewing in my head while reading this topic.

:)

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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StoneDog
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You can stand on your head and do a dance and balance pigeons on your feet while you play if it is what makes ya groove. What comes out of your instrument will reap what is true.

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coolpinkone
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ha...so true..well I practiced today with feeling...and I found my body making moves that NO one should ever see... ha ha.. it included some knee bends...like I was trying to use my body to push sound forth.. hahahahahaha

 

bunny says it best.bunny_pole_danceryeah..so what bunny can you play the violin?

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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DanielB
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Consider a couple examples.. 

 

I would say they both play well.  Same song.  But the presentation is different, and for me the first seems like a more intense performance. 

Not the best examples for this particular point in some ways, since they both move when they play, neither is "wooden".  So maybe to really get the point, one would also have to imagine someone standing as still as possible, but still playing the same piece well (purely in the sense of the sound). 

"Melodrama" can have it's place on stage, in some contexts.  It can be part of the fun not only for the audience, but for the performer.

 

 

"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

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Picklefish
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So its been a month and Ive been staring at this thread for about a week wondering if I would revisit it. Its 3:30 am sunday and I have a bit of digestive insomnia. :)

In my middle of the night ponderings and reflection of the comments I recently posted I thought I would take this moment of mental clarity to pose a question to you that hides a tip you probably already ignore.

How do we know that repetitive listening to a piece of music you wish to learn is actually helpful?

I'm not a scientist and my formal educaton is in culinary arts. (full disclosure)

When I started learning about learning music I went full on Suzuki method in addition to reading many online articles and watching many youtube videos. One of the "techniques" to learning, especially in the Suzuki methodology and old time fiddling traditions is to listen to a recording over and over before trying to learn it. I recommend this all the time to my students and always get the "I forget" response. I cant tell for sure because I cant convince any of them to keep a practice journal either.

Now these are two things that I have done "religiously" (mostly, I slack just like anyone else) since I started 3 years ago. I have noticed that my improvements and focus are greatest when I follow all the advice I have learned and given.

Its the Self Discipline to do these things I know I should do that was the hardest to self impose. Self Discipline to keep a journal, self evaluate, focus, strive to improve, continue to educate yourself, etc....

Self Discipline to do what you know you should do to achieve the results you want. Have YOU got it in you?

If you never write down any goal, how will you know when you have reached it?

"Please play some wrong notes, so that we know that you are human" - said to Jascha Heifetz.

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Mattwatt
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I have mixed feelings on repetitive listening. I generally try to play something before hearing it. Then listen to it a handful of times and then learn the tune. Almost always I have forgotten what I've heard by the time I have the song mostly down. And after hearing myself play the song a hundred times, I prefer my own rendition...lol. So I guess I feel really hearing the song is important, but it could also inhibit personal creativity and style...I can try to watch Usain Bolt's running style repetitively and do my best to emulate it to try improve my own, but it probably won't help me much when I can't run a mile...that and I'm built nothing like him. I think critical observational skills in your own performance are probably more valuable than emulating the masters. Just my personal theory though. This logic probably won't work when playing in an orchestra or a band where consistency among all the players is imperative.

 

I think goals are tricky things. I only have one goal in life, to improve who I am over the person that I was when I woke up this morning...lol. Most days I succeed...

 

Really though, that is how I tackle my musicianship. My one true goal is to just improve. Whether it be the tone of a song, fingering issues, bow hold, etc. Every day is a new awakening of something and usually very small steps in improvement. My method might show much slower improvement than others and it could possibly bring me more frustration in the long run, but for now it works for me and my laziness and lack of record keeping. 

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RosinedUp
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pfish said
How do we know that repetitive listening to a piece of music you wish to learn is actually helpful?

I'm not a scientist and my formal educaton is in culinary arts. (full disclosure)

When I started learning about learning music I went full on Suzuki method in addition to reading many online articles and watching many youtube videos. One of the "techniques" to learning, especially in the Suzuki methodology and old time fiddling traditions is to listen to a recording over and over before trying to learn it. I recommend this all the time to my students and always get the "I forget" response. I cant tell for sure because I cant convince any of them to keep a practice journal either.

For an ear player without a phonographic memory, repetitive listening is essential.  The memory of the sound replaces the sheet music.  You don't remember the fingering patterns as much as you: 1) remember the sound, and 2) translate the memory of the sound to fingerings, on the fly.  When you play, you are thinking ahead---of the sound ahead---just like the sight reader is looking ahead---at the notes ahead.  The ear player is not memorizing fingerings any more than the sight reader. Knowing how the tune sounds is almost the same as being able to play it.

... in my experience and understanding.

If you can remember a tune on a first listening and are able to translate the memory into fingerings, you are a great ear player.  I am better at the latter than the former, so I usually have to listen more than once.

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coolpinkone
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June 2, 2013 - 10:30 pm
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Good points to ponder Rob...

I generally can play a song better  and play it well sooner, if it is a song I know.

However recently I learned one that I have never heard and I did pretty good. (it was Star of the County Down)  Pretty easy.

Now are far as repetitive listening.. I have not give that a shot. Most of the stuff I listen to, I am years away from playing...soooo I hope I hope it matters.

I wanted to do Suzuki...bought a book and can't say that I can learn it without a teacher.

I am a big fan of the Essential Strings book.  I know that if it is all I ever had... I could have learned...and I bought it for the Cello and it is the same thing.. the exercises really go with the lesson.. and it is a note and a finger on a string at a time..or maybe three notes on a string at a time.. but it has been so useful to me.

If I didn't have this site, and feedback and your teachers tip, and your vibrato thread as well as so many threads, I would be far behind in what I am today. And of course Pierre has been so helpful with great feedback.

Anyway...I do believe in writing down practice journals and goals. Sometimes even posting a goal here is a good way for me to remember and discipline myself to do it..especially if a friend here asks.."how is that going, Or have your written those scales out yet..?" 

It is all very motivating.

Great thoughts,

Thanks

Toni

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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UtahRoadbase
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June 2, 2013 - 10:33 pm
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First, I have to say that I LOVE Lucia. She's such a skilled violinist PLUS she seems to have a lot of fun. Personally, I move a lot when I play but it's just how I relax and connect with my instrument. I can't imagine holding perfectly still -- it's be unnatural.

 

Also, I was Suzuki trained and I have to say that his methods worked and continue to work well for me. I still remember pieces of music that I played almost 20 years ago! also studied Japanese and when I went there for a study abroad, my "family" was learning English in a similar fashion -- listening to CDs of songs and conversations in English over and over and over again. Since I feel like music is like another language, it made sense to me that the technique transferred over.

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Ferret
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July 2, 2013 - 7:53 pm
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UtahRoadbase said
First, I have to say that I LOVE Lucia. She's such a skilled violinist PLUS she seems to have a lot of fun. Personally, I move a lot when I play but it's just how I relax and connect with my instrument. I can't imagine holding perfectly still -- it's be unnatural.

 

Also, I was Suzuki trained and I have to say that his methods worked and continue to work well for me. I still remember pieces of music that I played almost 20 years ago! also studied Japanese and when I went there for a study abroad, my "family" was learning English in a similar fashion -- listening to CDs of songs and conversations in English over and over and over again. Since I feel like music is like another language, it made sense to me that the technique transferred over.

It's the method that I use (not Suzuki. I've never seen the inside of a Suzuki book). I don't even read music.

Like @UtahRoadbase I studied Japanese in Japan and the comparison of music and language is a good one. You can't really learn either well just out of a book. You have to ' immerse' your self in both

Seen it all. Done it all. Can't remember most of dunno ..... What was I saying???? facepalm

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