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Taking up the violin again--for dummies


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#106 jim palmer

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Posted 15 October 2017 - 19:36

For me,

Keeping my bow in the right position

Is always a difficult proposition.

Right angle to strings is easy I find,

Just make  bow-hair follow

The fingerboard curve.

But then I have to look at the notes

And the bow-hair, unsupervised,

Moves up to the bridge,

Down the strings,

Or makes a swerve.

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#107 SingingPython

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Posted 18 October 2017 - 08:11

Bow control one of my bug-bears too :)  (both me and my children - my students on the other hand are getting the benefit of me regretting not badgering my children more, sooner ...)

 

Why don't you memorise a couple of pieces-that-are-easy-for-you and use them to practise playing with your bow exactly where you want it.


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#108 mel2

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Posted 18 October 2017 - 12:22

For me,
Keeping my bow in the right position
Is always a difficult proposition.
Right angle to strings is easy I find,
Just make  bow-hair follow
The fingerboard curve.
But then I have to look at the notes
And the bow-hair, unsupervised,
Moves up to the bridge,
Down the strings,
Or makes a swerve.
:(


Nice spot of poetry! :)
Please post a solution in rhyme when you find it...
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#109 jim palmer

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Posted 21 October 2017 - 19:39

Bow control one of my bug-bears too smile.png  (both me and my children - my students on the other hand are getting the benefit of me regretting not badgering my children more, sooner ...)

 

Why don't you memorise a couple of pieces-that-are-easy-for-you and use them to practise playing with your bow exactly where you want it.

Yes that sounds a good idea. Say memorise phrases from a piece with lots of string crossings, then play them while monitoring the bow.

I already memorise scales (with help of solfa) but there the bow just goes up/down a string, not so demanding.

 

 

 

Nice spot of poetry! smile.png
Please post a solution in rhyme when you find it...

 

Glad you liked it!. I'm trying the above exercise.


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#110 OlderAussie

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Posted 28 November 2017 - 04:26

Well I hate to leave you contemplating the difficulties we might face. Aren’t the trials and tribulations worth it when we get to play some of the GORGEOUS violin music out there? (Walton's Canzonetta wub.png )

I’ve come to realise that probably few (if any) of us have the perfect physical attributes required to easily play all the violin repertoire. Maybe short fingers are an advantage for playing quickly. Thin finger tips might fit between strings not meant to be touched on either side in first position but struggle to stop two strings when needed in high positions. Large hands and fatter fingers might make precise intonation of closely placed notes a challenge. Then the parameters of the instrument also come into it. One violin might suit you in some ways (for some pieces or techniques) and one with different dimensions might suit you for others...argh!

You know I swapped from a 7/8 size to a 3/4, which is much better for me in many ways. I can now play “Air on the G String” on the G string! ohmy.png Also it is much less of a burden to hold so I tend to practice for longer. However, unfortunately the width of my finger tips makes playing some double stopping and broken chords cleanly in first position a major challenge, the strings being so much closer to each other than on my 7/8 size. I’m planning to try a lower bridge which might help.

Some double stopping (though not all) is easier on my old 7/8 sized “Madame”. I've been feeling bad about the poor thing, her strings are over 25 years old! Her maintenance has been neglected and her set-up apparently far from ideal (though I will keep her bridge low). So today I took her for a bit of work to a local repairer/restorer. No, NOT the same one who a while back, faced with a simple request and without any consultation, took it upon themselves to get creative! duh.gif

But what I’m really dreaming of is...not a white Christmas...but a 3/4 size instrument with a great tone, a bit wider neck than Wolfy’s but with a similarly shallow neck (vertical dimension). Oh, and no bad wolf. But is this a legitimate dream worth pursuing or just a case of a poor workwoman blaming her tools???
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#111 OlderAussie

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Posted 08 January 2018 - 04:39

So, a new year (I know our fireworks were awfully flash but weren't the London ones so artistic, that big Eye is a great platform).  Hope 2018 is a good one for you.

 

Now the 12 days of Christmas are over it might be time to get back in the saddle. Well maybe, though half we Aussies are still on our long hols at the beach, inside watching movies or otherwise avoiding the fiery furnace outside  -- while I see many of you northern hemisphere folk are snowed in big time.  Poor things. I guess your fingers may not be working so well either...  Maybe not the best time to talk about scales. 

 

Scales of the 3 octave kind.  Now, what follows might not be at all relevant to you, especially if you have been preparing for an exam. Probably best to keep to what you've been practising.  This is just my own enthralling personal journey. soapbox.gif 

 

Practising scales from my Aust. Music Exam. Board Violin Technical Work book I realised I should change my approach. First, I was surprisingly thrown out by what I thought a bizarre new fangled idea -  from 4th grade on they have added 3 notes to the beginning and end.  So they go tonic, third, second, tonic at each end.  Weird. But now I see.   goldstar.gif Aha, there are 48 notes before you get to the final tonic which you play with a separate bow.  Consider the slurred bowing patterns required:  3 notes per bow in 4th grade, then 4 to a bow, 6 to a bow and 12 notes per bow as you progress up the grades.  

So those 48 scale notes are divisible in all those ways.  Clever eh.  Kind of like a dozen eggs.

 

But why would the extra notes be a problem for me? You may well ask.  The answer is that I was playing my scales by ear, in that I knew those little tunes (major, melodic minor, harmonic minor) so well that I automatically played the semi-tones in the right places. Strangely the extra notes and perhaps the bowing groupings made the rhythm and "tune" seem different and this took a bit of readjustment. Especially with the trickier scales, I now practise with the music, having marked the semi-tones so as not to get confused.  

 

Hey it helps to know what those notes are too! Perhaps I wasn't even aware I was playing a Fb in the relevant spots in the Ab minors?  Well...hopefully I was... sadvio.gif You know Fb is the same as an E don't you (OK so some of you smarties may wish to dispute this but hey, one woman's floor is another woman's ceiling).

 

Another factor was the fingering I was used to.  A very well-regarded teacher once got me (for scales A and above) to always put my 1st finger on the tonic on the E string, go 1st, 2nd, 3rd finger then shift up.  This worked very well for the old scale format, however with the extra notes and different slurred bowings now required in A.M.E.B. exams I see it makes more sense to shift up to a 1st finger with the start of a new bow.  The same might be a factor when choosing fingering in pieces...

 

Oh well, as they say, "live and learn" 

 

Next time I'll tell you of my exciting adventures and thoughts after auditioning the local amateur orchestras.  No, not auditioning FOR.


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#112 OlderAussie

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Posted 17 March 2018 - 05:52

Well I do have some more things to share with you, since I see some of you are still around. Where to start?

First, on the local amateur orchestra front, after attending 3 concerts, I decided the only one I aspire to join is the one which doesn't need me -- you know, the one where the brass (in particular) play in tune! wacko.png However, here's my quandary: I could do with the practice and more confidence following less ambitious orchestral scores, but would exposing my sensitive ears to the loud and more "intonationally challenged" do them harm? Any advice? Perhaps use some kind of earplugs?

Talking of earplugs...I discovered something quite interesting - due to the fact it's not usually other people hurting my ears. To me my violin sounds very loud, quite harsh on the higher strings. Then on reading about harsh violin sounds on the internet I came across the idea that we violinists have "the worst seat in the house" for hearing the sound we are making. We don't hear it the same way as our audience. Our perception is altered, for a start, because one of our ears is just that bit closer to the instrument than the other, which sets up a kind of interference. The trick is to put some kind of little cotton wad or earplug in our left ear, just to cut the amount of sound. When practising now I use a little bit of tissue and it does make my violin sound much nicer.

Of course there is a lot of discussion out there about "violin sound under the ear" vs. the instrument's projection, the effect of a room's acoustics etc. etc.

Another thing which might alter my violin's sound is what I'm having done this coming week, though that is more in order to make it easier to play. I'm having a new lower bridge cut. Yes, I'm keeping the higher bridge just in case because those of you who have been following will remember the whole sad saga of my "Wolfy's" adventures. So here's fingersCrossed.gif

Will it ever end?
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#113 jim palmer

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Posted 17 March 2018 - 20:22

Your struggles with 3/4 and 7/8 violins remind me of my adventures with 15" and 15 1/2" violas.

The 15 1/2 seemed too big at first so i bought a 15". On both I lowered the strings at both bridge and nut by deepening the string channels. After practice on the 15" (and taking G3) I found I could now play the 15 1/2 comfortably!

Also met a tiny girl  about 21 who had passed G8 on her full-size violin. I could hardly believe it - women don't come much smaller than that!

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#114 OlderAussie

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Posted 28 March 2018 - 22:40

My violin is back from the shop
With a newly cut bridge on its top
It's lower by far
Than most bridges are
That bridge blank, it got quite a chop

But has that move been a success?
Some changes it's made might be guessed
Yes, easier to play
And I'm excited to say
The wolfiness seems so much less hurrah.gif


Of course it takes time for a player to adjust to a new set-up but these are my findings:

As expected, having the strings lie closer to the fingerboard has made double stopping easier. It's also easier to place a finger between strings I don't want to touch in first position when playing broken chords. Plus it's now feasible to rock my finger back and forth from one string to the next to play a perfect fifth in a higher position (as in the Theme from Schindler's List - though perfect intonation here is still a challenge).

So if a lower bridge can make life easier for some of us, why are bridges generally higher? I understand this is done for the sake of tone. No doubt it improves the tone of most instruments, however I really think a lower bridge is better for my particular violin, which has a serious problem with wolf tones (on the D string as well as the same pitch high on the G). A lower bridge makes sense if it's true that lower tension on such instruments helps.

So when I got Wolfy back I experimented by taking off the string with its 2.5g wolf eliminator (firmly attached in the specific place) and putting my former Warchal G back on. This in fact has a slightly lower tension than the Obligato.

On that first day I was full of high hopes! The wolf seemed to have disappeared almost completely (no sign on the D string at least). Not only that, but with the slightly distorting effect of the wolf eliminator gone, the tone is richer. This is confirmed by my spouse.
Sad to say however, that in the last couple of days the wolf has occasionally made itself known. But not to fear, as I have yet another theory laugh.png

Based on past observations I think it has something to do with humidity... Wolfy seems to like it quite steamy wink.png So -- back to the luthier for advice on a humidifier.

And if that fails? Maybe try all lower tension strings...and/or a lighter bow? Today I'll try out my Coda carbon fibre. Will keep you posted -- I'm sure you all find Wolfy's tale fascinating biggrin.png
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#115 OlderAussie

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Posted 30 March 2018 - 05:58

Now, before some of you get out your saws...ohmy.png  I should warn that lowering a bridge should be left to a trained luthier.  We are talking fine measurements here - maybe one or two millimetres.  One danger is that strings that are too close to the fingerboard will vibrate against it and make a buzz when you bow, especially if bowing with gusto.  This would mean a trip to the luthier anyway blush.png as perhaps part of the fingerboard could be smoothed back, otherwise you would need a new bridge. The other important factor is keeping (or achieving) the right curve of the bridge. This affects your bowing as you move from one string to another. 

 

For a while I was dismayed and thought I had a buzz on my lowered G string.  Then I realised it was caused by my mute rattling, and not the string hitting the fingerboard. 

 

Yesterday I tried my carbon fibre bow, which seems lighter, to see if that calmed the wolf tones.  In fact the wolf seemed harder to control so I reverted to my wooden bow.   I remember an experienced violinist said to me a couple of years ago  "What would you do with a wolf?  Attack it" and it seems a firmer touch does help. But today (being a day of only about 20% humidity) I put the string with the wolf eliminator back on.  However I soon took it off again.  The tone of the rest of the violin, especially on the D string, is so much better without it!  So after Easter I will certainly look into humidifiers.

 

In the meantime (between church services) I might take in a bit of folk music at a big local festival.  The weather here is just superb at the moment...yay.gif  and winter is coming soon enough.


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