Re: teaching tuning June 1 2003 - Couple of ideas: Don't have them go around sawing away when tuning, with lots of bow and a lot of bow changes. This is for a few reasons: bow changes can affect the pitch, as well as pressure with the bow, and nobody likes to hear all these wwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwaaaaaaaaaeeeeeooooooooooowaaaaaaaaa over and over again.
Ideally, we'd just pluck very quietly to check our strings, but we have a bow in our hands, which can do the job nicely. So in the act of tuning, when you're simply checking the string and listening to it, just have the student tap the string(s) lightly with the bow. This doesn't work with using the pegs, so they should use a minimal amount of sustained bow to turn the peg.
Then they can keep tapping around to check the other strings. This is better because it isn't distracting, and it departs from a student-like appearance, and looks professional.
I think, Sheila, the best way to actually have them change the pitch with the pegs is to simply make them do it. I'm trying to think of a good analogy for this...
First off, they have to know what the pitches sound like. I don't really think my perfect pitch has helped in this respect, but perhaps when you tune their violins, ask them if they know when their strings are in tune as you do so.
This will train their ears, for one. Secondly, it's like teaching a dog to swim. It may not want to go into the water first, but you know that dogs by nature can swim. So the best way is to put them in a situation where they are forced to tune their own instruments. This is where youth orchestras are helpful, because they look at other youngsters tuning their instruments and ask themselves, why can't I do that, and they just do it themselves.
This would be like simply dropping the dog into the deep end of the pool, because you know it won't sink... its instincts will kick in and it will go on paddling like it always knew how to. Posted By: andrew
Re: teaching tuning - A couple of mechanical points could be mentioned to the parents. When tuning by the pegs, home in on the final pitch by slightly overtuning and letting the string tension help to turn the peg down to the final pitch.
Important: because pegs have to be pushed in, don't hold the violin on their knee, hand on bout, while pushing in the peg. This could possibly break the neck because of the sideways torque. Hold by the neck.
I see many adult players who tune under the chin without using a finger (around the scroll) to pull in the peg. Then they complain about pegs slipping. If there is a difficulty finding a spare finger to do this, perhaps the string needs to be pulled through the peg so that the head of the peg has a convenient orientation when the string is in tune. This last point is hard to write out in a sentence and hard to describe orally. But everyone will know what is meant if a few moments are taken to point it out.
Re: teaching tuning - I start to teach tuning in my elementary school orchestras in the second year--5th grade. I have a Peterson tuner play A440. I take the student's violin and bow the A string, while holding the scroll very low in front of me. The student turns the fine tuner until the pitch matches. I tell them that if the notes fight each other, or if they hear a waa-waa sound, the string is not in tune. After that is mastered I play the 5th and have them tune the D string until the notes don't fight and sound hollow. At the same time I teach them to bow the 5th up bow at the point while holding the left hand at the fine tuners.
Posted By: Stephen Date: June 3 2003
Re: Vibrato tips July 6 2003 -The key to a good vibrato is flexibility in the first knuckle of each finger (the knuckle closest to the tip of your finger). If those knuckles aren't flexible, your vibrato will never move correctly--no matter how hard you move your arm or wrist. I'm going to try to make an analogy here...it might be hard to grasp in writing, but I'll do my best! If we are talking about arm vibrato (this is the one I know, though a similar philosophy can be applied to wrist vibrato as well), you can think of your upper arm and elbow as your "motor." This motor drives your arm below the elbow, therefore making your hand move back and forth, therefore making your fingers move back in forth, creating a vibrato motion--that much should be pretty straight-forward. Now think of your first knuckle as a door hinge. If your door hinge is rusted over and broken, it resembles a very stiff and unmoving first knuckle. If your door hinge is well-oiled, it resembles a flexible knuckle. Now, if you try to close a door that has rusted and broken hinges, it is very hard to close--no matter how much force you put into that door, the door will barely move, because the hinge is stuck. If the door hinge is well-oiled, you can lightly push it, and it will move easily. The same goes for your vibrato. No matter how much force your "motor" (upper arm and elbow) generates, if your knuckle isn't flexible, your vibrato will not move. That knuckle MUST be flexible in order for your vibrato to work!!! I hope that makes sense, if you have any questions about my ridiculous analogy, feel free to ask!
Another piece of advice I have for you on vibrato is to practice the motion VERY slowly...it is too easy to become over-enthusiastic in the learning of vibrato and try to get your "wiggle" rolling. You will only develop bad habits and end up taking longer to learn it. Over the years, I've seen my fair share of kids in school orchestra that don't know how to properly do a vibrato. All they can muster is a tense wiggle, and it is a painful sight to see, and a painful sound to endure. They really want to be able to create a beautiful vibrato, and they work very hard to play well, but they never learned the proper vibrato technique that is so essential to making that expressive playing possible.
Lastly, like Mr. Masters suggested, after you get the motion down securely, I would advise you to practice your vibrato with a metronome, slowly speeding the metronome up. Do one bow with eighth notes, then do the next bow with sixteenth notes, alternating back and forth. After you can do both very well, move up the metronome one notch. Even though I learned vibrato years ago, I still do this routinely to keep everything in shape. Good luck, Dan
BOWING1 - bow division
That's a wonderful way to do it. The fact that you are thinking now about bow division and working on it is the most important step in improving it.
Make sure you do your bow division exercises with a metronome. Are you playing 3 octave scales yet? If so, use one of the "turn-arounds" at the beginning and end of the scale, either Flesch or Galamian, so that the scale is 24 notes long. Then you can practice slurring (or hooking) 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, and 12 notes per bow, dividing the bow equally. Most people do this at about 35-40 beats per minute on the metronome, with one beat equalling one bow.
If you're not doing 3 octave scales yet, don't worry: you can still practice bow division. Try different combinations of slurred and hooked: for example, slur 3 on the down-bow, hook 3 on the up-bow. Choose a metronome tempo that gives you a good comfortable bow-speed and tone. Also practice scales with 2 notes slurred followed by 2 notes separate, making sure the separate bows each get exactly half a bow.
Kudos to you for working hard at this -- some people don't like to practice bow division, but it will really help your rhythmic and tonal control.
Posted By: RS
BOWING2 - Re: Changing bow direction
Well, you are absolutely correct that the bow direction will affect the smoothness of the changes. You will find that many violin pedagogues have different, often contradictory views on how to achieve the smooth changes. I believe Menuhin, for example, advocated no hand or finger movement whatever, just a reversal of direction from the arm. The advantage of that approach is that your bow speed will stay absolutely consistent (when you add extra finger motion to an already-moving arm, it tends to speed up the bow -- sort of like walking up and escalator that's already going up -- you get there faster.) The disadvantage is that you may be too stiff, and therefore too tight, to make smooth changes. So I'm inclined to suggest just a tiny bit of finger motion just to stay loose.
Make sure you understand from your teacher what it takes to draw a completely straight bow. The motion is especially complicated at the frog, where bow changes tend to be bumpier. Your wrist will be involved there, just to keep the bow straight (think of pointing your wrist a little toward your nose as you approach the frog on an up-bow.)
In the long run, the way you achieve smooth bow changes doesn't matter -- I've known violinists who looked quite different, and yet had similar results. The end result is what's important. Just keep in mind the following: bow perpendicular to string, consistent bow speed on either side of the change, consistent pressure (weight) on either side, and no tension in muscles. Also, at the frog make sure the hair is tilted toward you -- flat hair tends to be scratchier. If you're doing vibrato, make sure it is continuous from note to note -- all the good bow technique in the world doesn't counteract a vibrato that starts and stops again on each note. Posted By: RS Date: January 27 2004
I think a lot of books have helpful exercises. But you can learn to trill without a book. Make sure your finger is doing all the work -- no vibrato motion with either the wrist or the arm. Otherwise you'll have different "cycles" going at the same time, and your trills will be uneven. Also be sure you're set up well with your shoulder rest and chin rest combination -- it's hard to trill fast while you're supporting the instrument with your hand.
You'll probably find it easiest to do fast half-step trills on fingers 2 & 3, whole-step trills on 1 and 2. So start with those. Here's the key: use your metronome! Start at a very slow tempo, back & forth once per beat, several whole bows' worth. Then raise the tempo notch by notch. As soon as you start to feel tense, drop your hand and rest a bit, then start back at a little slower tempo. Another way, if you get tired of moving your metronome beat, is to keep the same beat and switch from 8th notes to triplets, to 16ths, to sextuplets, even 32nds on the same beat. Also practice trills with different rhythmic patterns (many scale books, such as Galamian, have lists of practice rhythms.)
Just realize you shouldn't do the same trill over and over too many times -- you'll get ridges in your fingers, and risk a repetitive motion syndrome. I think that's where the trill etudes really come in handy -- you'll do a variety of keys and fingerings. And they will be more interesting, so it's easier to perservere. The Kreutzer etudes, in most editions, have several rhythmic ways to approach trills -- start with the slowest rhythms and build up to the faster versions. As with anything worth learning, there are no shortcuts! Be patient. Posted By: RS Date: March 2004
I've just consulted some lexica's and...
Martelé is French, meaning Hammered. (Professor Erdlee wrong, RS right)
Martellato is Italian for the same thing. (Bachmann wrong, RS right)
Marcato is italian meaning marked. (Professor Erdlee wrong, Bachmann right)
Playing wise, Martelé (or Martellato) is a hammered playing and the note do NOT sound during the entire duration of the note.
Compare Mazas, etude book 1 no 2. It is the 8'th notes with the dot on that should be played on the tip.
Marcato is played the entire note with an sf on the start.
More like the quarter notes in the same study. Mattias Date: May 20, 2004
It's spelled "mezza". As you say, it's a crescendo followed by a diminuendo; it's a vocal technique, but no reason not to use it on violin (but sparingly!) A great exercise is to practice scales with long bows, each bow making a certain dynamic shape. You could do a "hairpin" or the reverse on each bow, or you could alternate crescendo and diminuendo bows. Try to control the shape with bow speed only, with bow pressure only, or with a combination. Then once you have great bow control, do the dynamics with your vibrato. Pianissimo = tiny vibrato (probably finger vibrato); as you get louder the vibrato gets wider and more intense. When you can control a "hairpin" all the different ways, then you have the tools to play a "mezza di voce." I'd suggest listening to singers to get a feel for the sound and timing.
Posted: Wed Aug 11, 2004
Posted By: RS
It takes a lot of determination on the parts of both the teacher and the student to fix a flawed vibrato. And yet... I think it's better to fix it earlier rather than later -- the longer he plays that way the more ingrained it will be. If there's tension involved that can't be good for his playing, or for the future health of his muscles, wrist, etc, so it may be important to change. I'd probably have him go on and start slow vibrato exercises , even while he still actually does the old vibrato. Then at some point, once he is successful with the technique of the new exercises, he'll need to stop doing vibrato entirely to prevent the old one from creeping back in. Then gradually incorporate the new vibrato.
I find the student needs to understand why we're changing it in order to be motivated enough to fix it.Posted By: RS Date:May 04, 2004
B0W REHAIR 10
The bow will begin to not perform as well. The hair, even with rosin, begins to slip and not create as nice a sound.
Sometimes hairs will break. This is normal, however when the hair become too thin for good performance sound, then it is time to rehair.
The bow hair can become very dirty, near the frog. This can sometimes also creep up the hair, then it perhaps needs rehaired. I prefer to have a rehair when this happens. However, some do wash the hair. I figure if it has been on long enough to get that dirty, then it also has worn.
It depends on how much you play. I have students who are in Youth Orchestras and also have their lessons, school orchestras, and practice who need a rehair at the least once a year, some sooner.
If you do not play a lot, then rehair is seldom, however the hair can shrink up over time and cause a problem with the bow end screw tightening.
Be sure to get a good professional bow rehair person to do the work. Bows can be ruined with too big a load of hair or too short a load of hair. I have also seen damage where the hair goes into the tip and the frog.
If you need a new thumb pad? Then rehair time is the time to do it.
Type of hair, if you do not know what you want then let the rehair person choose. There are different types. I am uncertain of their names, but for my best bows I always get the best.
Here are some pictures.
I really dislike the sound of the wrapped E strings -- very harsh. I like the sound of the gold-plated, although they are prone to that "squawk" that happens when going to open E from the A string. But they are warmer than, say, the Dominant E string. I'm currently using the Visions Titanium E, and I'm very happy with it. Younger students think it's "cool" looking -- because of the gray color it blends in with the fingerboard, so you can hardly tell it's there! ~RS
What I often find missing in the "new" strings is depth and variety to the sound. They can make a violin sound different in a nice way, but then that way turns out to be the only thing the violin can do. I'm putting Tonicas on everything from my shop. ~Michael Darnton http://www.darntonviolins.com/
Aluminum do have a faster response. People like the sound of silver, but to me though it's got a nice sound, it doesn't match the other strings. Aluminum does. ~Michael Darnton http://www.darntonviolins.com/
The most important difference is the wood quality--generally the wood in cheaper bridges is too soft, and often the grain in the wood runs at a slight angle through the blank, making it harder to plane the blank to proper dimensions. In addition, much of the pricing is often on appearance issues which don't really affect tone. Generally more expensive bridges have a design from which it's easier to cut a good bridge, too. ~Michael Darnton http://www.darntonviolins.com/
Several things come to mind. One thing that I dread is people bringing me back a violin and saying that the pegs don't work.
a.) Notice if the person wraps a finger around the scroll. We all know what this is about.
b.) Too much peg dope can be worse than none. Dry 0000 steelwool on a peg with no solvent works pretty well.
c.) Remove the worst peg and look to see if the wear pattern seems uniform on BOTH surfaces. Oftentimes they appear to rotate OK, but the tapers of hole/peg are not quite the same. Especially if it is new or carelessly setup.
d.) Even if the wear patterns look good, a shoulder might have worn on the head end of the peg shaft. Lay a good straightedge along the axis of the peg and hold up to a light.
e.) Strings can get bunched up at the small end of the peg.
f.) You know all about these so far..........
g.) It is possible that they have come in from taking the violin to school and the humidity is changing (over a period of hours), causing the maple to expand more rapidly than the peg material.
h.) Buy an artist's pastel chalk pencil with a dark color. You might be able to smooth a peg with 0000 and put a few marks of the chalk on the peg. But if you see a shoulder, forget it. A shoulder can also usually be felt with the fingers if it is large.
i.) Don't do what I have seen many professional players do...
That is, hold the body on the knee with a hand on the upper bouts and try to turn and push the peg. This exerts a sideways torque on the neck and is the weakest direction of the neck joint.
Well, not much to say........ My biggest suspicion is that this time of the year has perhaps the largest humidity swings. Still, a little stronger left hand, with finger around the scroll, should work fine if the pegs fit. Once again, too much dope is not good for you !! If a couple of marks don't work, something else is wrong. If the pegs feel waxy or too smooth, you may have an excess.
Oh, one more thing....... if the violin has 4 tuners, it may have been some time since the pegs have been worked. Readjust the tuners to the middle and retune. (You knew this one too ...........)
~ John Masters