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violinlab debut
Many interesting topics, but I miss people posting their playing!  (All busy doing the Practice Course? )  Thus I've decided I won't wait until my Yeti arrives, and put up something I enjoyed playing, after I discovered it in Beth's Practice Course repertoire, just for fun.

I won't get it perfect, so here it is, with all it's rhythmical inaccuracies, problems playing totally together with the accompaniment, my bow arm often unnecessarily high etc.  A bit dragging at times, and I can't really hear my pianos, fortes etc.  I'm sure I played them!!!

Any feedback and positive criticism very welcome, that's why I'm here!
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3 Responses
Posted: June 25, 2018

Bevin Mathew
Bow bounce & instability while shifting finger positions
I came across this problem while playing Si Bheag Si Mhor : When I'm playing the D on the A string with my index finger and on the next note I have to play the B on the A string with my index finger, the second note always causes my bow to bounce. I can't seem to play that note cleanly. This seems to be mainly because my thumb is also shifting it's position and there's that small period in time where it doesn't provide the right level of reaction force as I move the thumb. Has anyone faced this problem before? Do you have any tips on how to work around that or any video from Beth that addresses this issue that I may have missed?

1 Responses
Posted: June 24, 2018

Arthur Mendez

Violin snobs hide everywhere: in orchestra's, at your local jam and, sadly enough, they can also become violin teachers.

You can easily recognise violin snobs: they are making you feel inferior, self-conscious, or just overall nervous about playing your violin when other people around.

Often, they are trying to bring you down to feel superior to you, based on their playing skills.

I found this article I'm not saying anyone here is like this but is this true??

9 Responses
Posted: June 24, 2018

3rd Position Intonation Work
I've been spending time in 1st position, and shifting to 3rd position and back, in the pieces I have been working on in Bk 4. However, I noticed my intonation in 3rd position needs work. So I tried Wohlfahrt Book 2, but I do not like those etudes for this kind of work. I would rather use old pieces that I am familiar with to do this kind of work. So I have picked up Suzuki Book 1, starting with Twinkle. I couldn't even play it in tune! Then I got it going, and went through all the variations, and moved on to the next pieces.

Since I have not spent time staying in 3rd position since using the Whistler Shifting book many, many months ago, my hand is out of shape. I find that to play effortlessly across four strings in 3rd position (not A string or E string but D string and G string) takes time, and I have been through this before, but I have lost the conditioning of the hand because I've ignored this work (stayed in 1st position to work on intonation, and just did a few shifts here and there.). The neck is just a bit thicker there than in 1st position, so I find the hand needs to be conditioned to play across to the G and D strings on four fingers for any  length of time. I had a conversation about this with my last teacher, and the teacher did not agree that it was any different than 1st position, and we did find that my hand frame needed to be more upright, so I am working on that, too.

So I work on Suzuki 3 or 4 times a day now, and slowly I am building my hand back up for 3rd position work, and Suzuki is helping my intonation work. So that is where I am right now, on Long Long ago Book 1. It should be interesting to see what happens as the pieces get harder, and I keep moving through the Suzuki Books, and the bow arm gets more involved... I find this exciting work, but it takes a lot of patience. But if I want to master 3rd position intonation, and comfort in playing, I find this is the way to go right now, to just stay there until it feels effortless.

5 Responses
Posted: June 23, 2018

Susan Hollister
Question on Practice Couse lesson 4 - Stretches
I have  difficulty when trying to get my fourth finger to play the E on the A string, especially when the E comes right after a C that I play with my second finger. What advice do you all have? Do you keep your first finger anchored on the B when you play the C -E combination? Do you keep your second finger on the C when reaching for the E? 

4 Responses
Posted: June 22, 2018

Joe Rogers
Failing Pretty Bad With Bow "Bounce"
I watched Ms. Blackerby's video (it was quite good, and gave me more insight into an even better bow hold), but I still struggle a great deal with bow bounce, ESPECIALLY near the frog, ESPECIALLY ESPECIALLY on my up-bowing.

Now here's the weird thing: when I BARELY touch the bow, it doesn't really seem to help much. In fact, it's often detrimental. I try to relax my hand, make a smooth motion, and it only really helps when I bow quickly, and not at all just past the mid point because I'm intentionally trying to not put ANY pressure on the bow, so the sound quality is just bad. Pure bad.

What I find comfortable is to apply SOME (not a lot) downward pressure with my index finger, but I read once that's not a good idea. I hate that this may be true because it really DOES make me feel comfortable. It's actually not even my index finger, but more of turning the wrist/hand INTO the bow a bit. I don't know how to explain it well.

I feel like yes, it definitely IS a relaxation thing. When I "warm-up" it's just awful. After about 20 minutes it dies down a lot. Not that I advocate drinking, but after work I like to sit down and play, but after a few cold ones, a bit of warm-up, and clearing my head, it seems to die down even more, to the point you might even hear and think "not TOO awful!"

It's the worst because I can't pinpoint it EXACTLY. Part of my brain knows it's either balance or pressure (a technical problem and nothing more), and the other part is certain it's a mental issue in that too much concentration is happening and it's shooting my nerves to the point I'm subconsciously doing something I shouldn't, but neither part will agree to disagree and come to a consensus. Of course I work with a woman that's a violinist and she suggested a bit more rosin, which strangely DOES seem to help, albeit temporarily.

Is there anything you all did that seemed to remove it? I want to do the "light touch" bow hold but I can't in good faith listen to the whimper of a sound it makes from slightly past midpoint to tip.

On the plus side and mostly unrelated, my left-hand is developing better! I still accidentally find myself squeezing, though FAR LESS SO than before. I mean it, Ms. Blackerby's left-hand tips are probably the only thing that kept me playing. It was bad sound, painful on occasion, slow, with poor form. It still needs work (obviously), but when I keep her tips in my head and consciously think about them it helps. I'll stop myself every so often to do some checks like:

- Where is your thumb? Do the 7 o'clock thing she told you!
- Don't squeeze! Are you squeezing? If yes, STOP! If no? You probably still are a bit - STOP!
- HAMMER those fingers down! Make it smack the finger board! You'll stop doing this at some point, and you'll learn the proper amount of pressure, but for now? HAMMER THEM DOWN! Your hand should be a finely tuned machine specifically crafted in this moment for hammering down violin strings! Don't lazily lay your finger down, even if it worked THIS TIME.

I'm also learning how to read music better! People were right: the "Essential Element's" books are SUPERB for learning to read music! Never thought I'd be able to do it and play at the same time! Still can't to a large degree, and definitely nothing complicated, but after they took the note names away, it was kind of "sink or swim." When it gets to ledger lines I'm still quite iffy, but my wife was asking me about that Titanic song ("Nearer, My God to Thee" - quite basic, but whatever) so we listened to it, I grabbed the sheet music, then started playing WITH the sheet music having never played it before, and it mostly sounded correct!

Sorry! Got a little excited and a lot long-winded. I try not to post often, but when I do it's something that frustrates me a great deal. That lousy bounce has been with me for the 3 or 4 months I've been playing. It comes and goes, and much like a Yeti, whenever you think you've got it, it was something else.

Have a great day guys! I think I'll go try "Ashokan Farewell" again after seeing Ms. Blackerby play it! Fun song!

6 Responses
Posted: June 22, 2018

Lee Gordon Seebach
Some Ideas for Better Videos

Hello everyone,

There was some recent discussion on this forum about shooting better videos so I thought Iíd share a demo video I made today for you guys.  Itís me playing French Folk Song to accompaniment provided by Beth here. I just wanted to post this video as an example of what can be done with some limited equipment (as opposed to an expensive studio setup).  Even though itís not professional studio quality, I think itís pretty good and it might give you some ideas if youíd like to upgrade your setup.

I used:

  • iMac computer
  • Garageband
  • iMovie
  • Blue Yeti mic
  • Sony Handycam
  • tripod

The Garageband and iMovie programs came with my iMac, so no extra expense involved there.  The Blue Yeti mic is around $130, and a camera tripod is around $30.  My Sony Handycam was around $240 at Samís Club, but Iím sure there are less expensive cameras that would work well or maybe you could use your smartphone.  

(If youíre a Windows user, some of this information may be useful as well, but Iím not familiar with their software programs.  I would imagine that there are many to choose from, though.)

If you can ignore my beginner-quality playing, hopefully what comes through is the quality of the recording itself: itís clear, crisp, and accurate (unfortunately, in my case LOL).  We violin students need all the help we can get when presenting our skills.  Playing and learning is difficult enough already without being handicapped with so-so sound quality in our videos, IMHO.

Without going into too much detail, basically what I do is shoot the video and record into Garageband at the same time.  You can do continuous, multiple takes, edit them, and put both the video and audio together using iMovie and Garageband.  But donít let this scare you off!  Believe me, Iím not a computer-type nor a recording expert, so if I can do it, you can, too.  Thereís a learning curve, but not a huge one.  Anyone interested in knowing more can simply ask and Iíll be happy to help as best I can.

I hope this video helps,


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5 Responses
Posted: June 20, 2018

Piano Method Book
Can someone suggest a method book for adults teaching themselves learning piano? I am looking at either Hal Leonard or Alfred, and I suppose it really doesn't matter, as all of them probably have their strengths, but there are literally dozens of piano method books out there.

I would like to learn beginning to intermediate piano, and have an acoustic piano coming in a couple of weeks on loan.

13 Responses
Posted: June 16, 2018

Janice Branley
Fete de la musique
It's the day of music in France and the streets are full of every kind of music which is a great delight!  My contribution is to take to the hills! and interpret the lovely waltz of Jay Ungar, Ashokan Farewell.
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5 Responses
Posted: June 21, 2018

Alan Barnicoat
Music Stand Position
What is the ideal position of the music stand in relation to the musician? I seem to continually shift either my stance, chair, or music stand in order to get a good view of the music and not look at the fingerboard while practicing note reading. 

3 Responses
Posted: June 20, 2018

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