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Timothy Smith
The Violin Compares To Life
I look at this instrument that reveals all flaws in my playing. There is nothing we can hide from it. I think in the beginning some might believe that they can play something that sounds good and that pretends to be done correctly fooling those around us. I have fooled myself like this in thinking I sounded better than I really do.
Everything comes out in the results. It isn't as if a teacher needs to look through layers of detail to find a problem. The violins reflects everything we do. EVERYTHING. It's almost a perfect translator of our movements and souls.
It's this naked kind of feeling I also get in viewing how maybe I am seen. How I might think I've gotten away with something when in reality I haven't. The violin constantly reminds me of this. Like life itself in many ways. Everything we do transmits to something else and in the same way every move we make on the violin shows what we are doing to make that happen. The ultimate transparency.
This is a sobering thought for someone like me who would many times like to cover up the things I am not happy with. The violin is a reminder to me that everything eventually comes to the top in one way or another.

10 Responses
Posted: April 16, 2019

Help With A Sung Piece
Working on bowings with this. The pitch not changing while words repeat represents a challenge for me to make it sound musical. If I can just get the hang of this in this piece, I hope it transfers to other pieces of like challenge in the hymnal. Vibrato work is next in this piece, & needs work. Integrating vibrato in pieces is still a challenge for me, because I tend to over press, as I concentrate on other things. But I hope these bowings work for this piece. If not, could you suggest bowings? All comments to improve this appreciated.
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6 Responses
Posted: April 16, 2019

Karen Grace
bow hold question

Dear Beth/seasoned violin teachers- thank you in advance.

I have a bow hold question. I teach the bow hold in a very specific way, instructing students to ensure that the index finger doesn't creep over the stick further than the 2nd knuckle. This is how I hold the bow and my understanding is that the hand doesn't sit properly if the index finger creeps over the stick any more than this. 

However one of my students seems to have real difficulty keeping the bow hold in this position- she gets it briefly but as she plays, her index finger always creeps over, and the thumb becomes almost straight (see bottom photo). I noticed the other day that her middle finger actually curves in the opposite direction to mine- you can see in the top photo that her middle finger curves in the opposite direction to her index finger (also true when fingers are straight) so I don't know if this is something to do with her bow hold struggles ... ? 

It also occured to me in that lesson that perhaps I am trying to straight-jacket her into how I hold the bow unnecessarily- perhaps her bow hold is right for her hand ?

So I suppose my question is: what are the variations in bow hold that are OK, and are there some things that I should just persist with ? If so, what are those un-negotiables ? I want to ensure that my students have a really strong foundation with their technique, in preperation for future more challenging bowing...

Thanks so much in advance for your help...


3 Responses
Posted: April 16, 2019

Lee Gordon Seebach
Hi Timothy,

My life isn't as complicated as it used to be, and training on my violin isn't a sacrifice.  I would describe it as an enjoyable, challenging pastime - an addition to my regular creative activities surrounding my profession: painting.  I have a lot of freedom and time to pursue my passions, and the violin is one of them.  I also pick the banjo and play guitar.  I set goals and when I achieve them it is very satisfying. But then I set new ones and continue along my merry way.  I don't expect to perform at Carnegie Hall on my violin but I do enjoy the process.  I would like to play with other musicians, however.  I live the full-time RV lifestyle so I may be able to travel and attend jams and festivals when I get good enough.  That's a huge part of being a musician for me, even as an amateur, and whenever I've performed on that level, it was scary but rewarding to share the music.  To me, the violin is the ultimate musical instrument and I'm so glad I finally am able to study it and enjoy it.  I even have a Gliga Maestro Vasile as of October and she's a prized possession!

Keep going,


10 Responses
Posted: April 11, 2019

Timothy Smith
Ashokan Farewell
So here's a rather recent tune called Ashokan Farewell. This is a fairly well know tune among American folk fiddlers.  I think it has that old feel to it. I wish now I had attempted to play double stops in places.I will likely retake in the future and add them next time.
I added some reverb to it to give the tone a larger feel.

I'm not gonna lie. I must have retaken this video 20 times. I still don't like this but it's better than the others. I was getting late here so I decided to call it a wrap.
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6 Responses
Posted: April 14, 2019

Moving While Playing
This video at just less than one minute in, is a discussion of a violinist who presses their head into the violin, and therefore is not able to move while playing.
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3 Responses
Posted: April 15, 2019

Saddest day...😞 # Oremus NotredamecathedraldeParis

I was planning to practice and post a video but I can’t...

Just too 😞 and 💔

Let’s us all pray 🙏🏼

0 Responses
Posted: April 15, 2019


I've started working on Simple Gifts – in the UK we took it, made it much faster and call it Lord of The Dance. I think this is why I'm having trouble slowing it down enough and the timing is a bit all over the place. Just keep wanting to play it faster & faster and sing along 'dance,dance wherever you may be...' 

I've posted video (I think) – apologies about the face, haha, I either look really miserable or like a fish gasping for air - but thought I should keep the pressure up on the recording front. I want to try to do slower, with longer bow strokes and thought doing it with a metronome might help? Also, my fingers have started moving a bit all on their own - I have been just letting them do their own thing but I feel it may be time to start tackling them consciously. I think the reason it isn't flowing/ bow changes are a bit stilted is because I need to work on them and wrist movement? I also obviously need to work on the retake – but yay!!! I remembered to put it in. Any help & advice gratefully received.

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7 Responses
Posted: April 12, 2019

Timothy Smith
How Much Of Your Life Does The Violin Take??
I guess I've been pondering this because that's what I sometimes do....ponder.

People have complicated lives. Does the violin require what you would describe as a sacrifice? How does it fit into your life and how do you see it? How much is enough to invest or how much is too much? How much are you willing to devote to it? What are you willing to loose in order to accomplish it?

Without a doubt those who are best at it have started young and have worked tirelessly for years to get to where they are. It doesn't stop there because they continue to need practice.

And what if you get to a goal? What does that mean to you? Is it personal satisfaction you get from it? Accolades from others? Playing with a group?  For teachers and pros it is obviously an income, likely also a true love. There must be a point though where one would occasionally tire of it if a full time venture. I could see teachers as thinking to themselves, oh no here's another beginner with the same or a similar predicted set of issues. After 20 years of it, I'm sure it becomes mundane to a point.

Why such a love of the violin as compared to other instruments? We live in a big world with lots of possibilities. Why limit to only violin? How will you use the knowledge of playing?  What is it about classical music that so interests a few over other types of music?
Why is music in general so divided over genre? So fragmented? So many opinions?

A violinist is really a narrow specialist in a very broad range of musical activity.  So these questions will answer my main larger question. I would like to hear why you maybe decided to take such a difficult and narrow range of instrument, many beginning at later stages of life. How does it feed your fulfillment as a musician?

I don't ask much lol.

18 Responses
Posted: April 10, 2019

Elke Meier
Hilary Hahn just released a playlist on her Instagram account called "Calming Bach". Unfortunately it is done for Apple Music, which I don't use. So I recreated it for plain YouTube users. You find it here

2 Responses
Posted: April 13, 2019

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