Re: PRACTICING -Study log Aug. 18, 2001- I have a playing journal. I used to write down the time I started and stopped (to see what I could accomplish in that amount of time), my goals, and the results after my practice session. This was such a good technique for me. I think I stopped when school started and I merely practiced (or actually just played) and didn't note very much.
I've had a playing journal since then...but it became somewhat a "violin journal" where I wrote down things I learned and things I wanted to save, like cut-out articles of our youth orchestra, or a friend's recital, or pictures of violins.
I've recently shifted into my actual practicing journal again (but still pursue my violin journal, as well...it holds many nice memories). I've found progress in just one evening with the practicing journal. This approach seems to help me.
When my teacher used a practice sheet, I found that it helped. I could note how much I practiced each week, and looking back on my playing I could see how well and how efficiently I learned in that time.
In my practice journal I would indeed write down what I learned right after the lesson. My notebook was in the car :) I found this to be a great technique, because sometimes I couldn't practice that same evening (and then a lot of details from the lesson would slip my mind). Referring back to pages of a notebook instead of my memory is excellent.
I think that anything written down, as a guide/plan/itinerary is absolutely wonderful help when practicing. Jessica
Re: practice charts etc. Aug. 18 2001 - I have some practice charts which I let parents use to take notes during the lessons and then the students can check off things by days of
the week. I have some which are blank and some list things like warmups or tonalization or scales, ear training, listening, review, piece to polish, previews, other....
Some find them helpful, some don't. If I have a student who isn't practicing, I ask them to put stickers on the chart each day they practice an item. Again, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. It just depends on how serious the parent is about following my instructions.
When my son was a little younger, I attended his lessons because they were a long way from home and I didn't like to sit for an hour in the car. I made up some practice sheets for taking notes
which had a column for measure numbers, problem, solution and a place for him to write notes as he practiced during the week. Something some of my students like are clear post-it type notes which I can put over a particularly troublesome spot. They like to see if the note can come off when they come the next
week to their lesson. They are see-through, but are colored, so it makes it easy to zone in on troublesome spots without doing what we call "virtuoso play-through practice." Ruth
Re: Fine Tuner Oct. 4, 2000 -They're worn out when they cease to function. Has yours? When it gets hard to turn you should remove the screw and rub it's threads on a candle, and then jam a little of the wax into the hole the screw goes in--in fact
I always do this with new tuners, too. Michael Darnton
Re: Bridges Oct. 26, 2000 -I'll take a crack at answering this. It is a common problem and one that can be a nuisance for players if it is left wholly unattended or infrequently attended, for in the worst case the tightening of strings may eventually pull the top of the bridge so far north that the bridge becomes warped, or, worse still, falls over.
In any case, the back side (facing the tailpiece) of the bridge should be perpendicular to the top of the violin. The tendency is for the bridge to be pulled forward. You need to gently pull it back. Sometimes only one side (usually the Bass side of the bridge) is being pulled forward. To do this,. sit down in a chair with your knees together in front of you. Checking to see that you're not wearing varnish scratching zippers or belt buckles, put the violin in your lap with the scroll away from you. You should be looking down at the top of the bridge.
Supporting the violin with your lap, nip the crown (top) bridge between your thumb and index finger and gently pull it backwards. If the violin is immobile in your lap you should be able to move the bridge easily and in very small movements. The trick is to just move it a little at a time and this is partly accomplished by pulling with your finger and offering a bit of resistance with your thumb. If the bridge really does not want to move back, or it feels like it pops back, you can remove the strings, one at time, and while the string is off, rub a bit of
lead from a soft-lead pencil in the string groove on the bridge. This may facilitate smooth pulling back of the bridge. It is important to remember that we have only been considering movement of the top of the bridge. The feet will be in the same spot. Barbara, I would say that your new bridge (with more slope) is proving difficult on string changes perhaps because the greater degree of bridge curvature requires a more radical (hence perhaps) harder to control movement of your bowing arm, but that is just a guess.
See if you adjust over time. If it continues to be a problem, there might be other set up issues that could be the culprit.
1. You can use both hands to pinch the two sides of the bridge as you pull back, one finger thumb combo on the left top of the bridge, one finger thumb combo on the right.
2. If you want to rub a bit of lead into the string groove, only do this one string at a time. With all of the string loosened or off, the bridge and then soundpost are likely to fall.Kelvin
Re: Bridges Dec. 17 2000 -The usual book number for violin is 3.5mm to the center of the E and 5.5 to the center of the G, measured at the end of the board. I think that this is really the maximum, and I also suspect that it was calculated for unwound and low tension gut strings, not modern ones.
On my own instruments I don't have any problem with 3mm and 5mm, and have cut them down on request, only, to 2.5mm and 4mm, which I think is as low as one could go without the potential for problems (buzzing, mostly).
Something which a lot of makers do which isn't beneficial and makes instruments less playable with no advantages is to put too much scoop in the fingerboard, lengthwise. There needs to be a bit, and it's mostly needed at the upper end, that's all, but I sometimes see as much as 1mm over the length of the board, which raises the strings in the middle positions much more than just raising the bridge would.
Many players like the resistance of higher strings, and some request them higher at the nut, regardless of the other end, in order to equalize things a bit relatively between the low and high positions. This does make sense to me when I think about it--it keeps the low end from feeling too soft when the bridge is lower.
Tonally, all of this doens't mean much--the tonal adjustment has to do with the absolute height of the bridge above the top, or really, with the angle of the strings over the bridge. After that has been determined, the board is positioned a comfortable distance beneath the strings, as an independent accomodation to the player.
On "normal" (whatever that means :-) violins the bridge height usually sits around 33mm in the center (to allow bowing without hitting the c-bouts), and the angle that the D-string turns at the bridge is about 158 degrees--that's the real tonal adjustment in this, and is determined by how the neck is set. Michael Darnton
Re: memorizing Sept. 22, 2001 -I memorize most everything. I memorize my solo pieces so that I can watch in
the mirror or work on other aspects besides staring at the music. I memorize my orchestra pieces so I can watch the conductor. The tip I've seen the most is "play it, play it, then play it some more!"
Yeah, that kind of goes without saying. I have to play the piece a couple times before I have it memorized. And then I
play the violin even when I'm not playing the violin. A piece of music is the most wonderful getaway while in history class. I'll combine all this into some of my golden rules.
1) play it a lot (the obvious) after you have it down.
2) get a photographic memory. I visualize my fingers on the strings even when I'm not playing it. When I have something memorized I see the notes on the
page. But that's me, could be different for the next person.
3) play the violin even when you're not playing the violin. If I can't sleep or I want to zone out at school, Mozart is suddenly struck up and you have to
go find me. You know when you get a really annoying song going through your head, like one of the ones that go all day long? Get your piece in your head. Once I get mine going I can see and feel the fingerings and bowings and such.
4) repeat step 1.
That's what I do. It could be different for someone else, but it's what works
for me. Jessica
Re: memorizing Sept. 22, 2001 -I have a suspicion that memory of music is related to how the student hears
it. A student who just plays the violin and never listens to other music,
probably will have more difficulty. There are a lot of such students out
There is a touching story in that Agus biography of Heifetz ...... At one
point Jascha very badly wanted a rocking horse. He was told he could have it
on condition that he learn by heart several violin pieces. He did this and
presumably got the rocking horse.John Masters
Re: memorizing September 1 2000 - You might try doing like the Suzuki kids do and get the tape and listen a lot. You might want to listen in the car, while you are fixing meals, taking a bath, brushing your teeth. When you are alone, you might try singing along -- not words, just whatever syllables come to mind. Even though you are an adult, you still should be able to memorize more easily if you listen. I still listen to as many different recordings of a piece before I start it and it helps a lot with my memorization.
Re: memorizing September 1 2000 - Getting tapes to listen to and singing the tune are excellent suggestions.
I think the real key isn't how long you practice, its how you practice.
A couple of things you might try.
Look at the music while you are away from the instrument. I use my lunch hour at work. Look for recurring patterns. Try to visualize playing your violin while reading the music.
Play the piece you are trying to memorize at the begginning of your practice session (after scale warm ups) at least three times. Move on to something else(scales, etudes, another piece).
Put down your instrument, close your eyes, play the piece you are trying to memorize in your head.
Visualize as much of the piece as you can remember. Pick up your violin, listen to the music in your head and actually play as much of the piece as you can remember (no peeking at music). Don't worry if you don't get it all at first. It will come. The main thing is to hear it in your head. Now go back and play from the written music. Each practice session you will remember more and more of the music.
As you learn to memorize, memorizing will become easier. If that makes sense.
Re: memorizing September 1 2000 - It's different for older people, but as you have shown, it is possible. The memorizing part gets easier the more you do it. Listening to the tape is probably the most powerful memorization tool available to you. I personally believe that playing along with the tape is a waste of time on your newer pieces. Save that for the older ones that you know pretty will already.
What works for me is to memorize a phrase at a time. That's usually about 4 measures. I can accomplish that fairly quickly, so my motivation stays high. I find that the more I memorize, the easier it becomes.
Best of luck in your studies. Janieb
The "bite" is done by impacting the bow hair to the string. While how to make the bite is really an interesting issue. Some like to press on the string then make a "take off" move, thus make the bite while the bow hair "stump" on the "ground" to jump.
Some like to pick up the bow and then let it drop onto the string, thus make the impact. I think it is not that hard for any decent student to make a single note stoccatto, the hard task is to maintain the the same tonality while playing complicated sequences.Thus raised another question,
how to maintain the good balance after each impact. Bet that is what you were asking.
I bet not all the stocatto notes are made by pressing the bow, there are the ones felt like you are piking up and let drop of the bow, i.e. Perlman in his Thaik. concerto play. There are lots of things described differently in this aspect. No one seems to be able to make it clear by words. The only way I think will help a student on a board like this on this issue is to tell the student to maintain the balance of the bow after each tone making impact, and trying to maintain the same tonality in a string of notes.
Flying stocatto starting the same ways, the difficult part is during the transition of forearm and upperarm in the move. Noticed Ricci does some interesting bow hold change during those transition passages. If one has learnt to maintain the "depth" of bowing by predominantly upperarm than the forearm, then the transition should not be that much a problem. Another thing is that different bow hold may differ on such techniques, flat the hand bow hold helps a lot in such transition problem too.
Also there is the on-string down bow flying stocatto, i.e. Heifetz did on his Hora stocatto, which uses different method in tone production there. fuchen
I'm assuming you're talking about a good basic staccato, not flying staccato, which is done many diffferent ways.
Basically, staccato is initiated by pressing on the bow (usually with the index finger) and then releasing the pressure while moving the bow horizontally to create the tone.
I find that students get into trouble in two ways: (1) When the complete release of the pressure happens slightly later than the horizontal movement of the bow, the attack has a "grinding" sound, because in effect the bow starts moving with still a lot of pressure. The release needs to be simultaneous with rather fast and immediate bow speed.
(2) The student ends the stroke by applying pressure, but the bow is still moving, so the tone "grinds" to a stop. Again, the key is having the two things happen simultaneously: stopping the bow and applying the first finger pressure. By the way, the pressure does not need to be drastic on either end of the stroke! A slight pressure will do the trick.
Two exercises can help, by teaching the student to control these two elements of the stroke separately:
(1) Without the bow, practice starting and stopping the stroke in the air. The arm should move rather mechanically, with no upper arm tension (remember, the pressure part of the stroke will take place in the hand -- specifically the index finger.)
(2) Place the bow on the string (middle is easiest, but this can be done in different parts of the bow) and apply slight pressure, so that you see the stick bend, but not all the way down to the hair. Press and release to a beat, so that you get accustomed to timing when it happens. This should not make a sound -- if it does, there is tension somewhere in the arm. Again, I highly recommend using only the index finger.
When these two exercises work well with a minimum of tension, then try putting it all together: Press, release and move the bow, stop the bow and press. Good luck! RS