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Elke Meier
Lully Gavotte
I have decided that I really should continue with Suzuki and not just work on the things I love... After all, there is a reason why they introduced the pieces in a certain order, and so far Suzuki has been very helpful for me in improving technique. I realized that I did learn some things even though I had this long hiatus from Suzuki: It was much quicker than I anticipated to learn Lully Gavotte, my next piece in Suzuki 2. 

But maybe it was much quicker also because I worked with the bow line and with Beth's practice instructions... Working on the bow line sure is effective for me - to the point that I find my right hand doing the right thing but the left had "forgetting" that it also needs to do something... 

Today I had a small window where I could do some recording, so I decided to go ahead, even though I am not comfortable yet with the shift in the fast passage. My plan to present to you a nice, clean, and relaxed recording did not work very well, though. Normally I just start the camera, then start playing with the accompaniment on a loop - and after a while I forget the camera, my bow arm relaxes and I can concentrate again on the music instead of the camera. This time I realized afterwards that I had forgotten to delete previous recordings,  and because my little old ipad was full, the camera had stopped after a few minutes. So you get the version with still a rather tense bow arm and several mistakes... 

The recording is by Steven Maloney, from the Suzuki version of Accompany Music. I just love this website and use it a lot during practice - especially the loop and slow down functions. Another thing I really like about his playing is that he often also plays the first few notes of the violin part, so you know where you are, and then only he goes into accompaniment mode. Really well done!  He has metronome clicks in certain places, which are wonderful for practice, but for a recording they are a bit of a nuisance as I cannot cut them out. Sorry. Hope you can enjoy it anyway :).
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13 Responses
Posted: June 3, 2018

Juan Pimienta
Song from secret garden 1st try
Hi folks at violinlab here I am sharing my first attempt at song from secret garden. I quite liked it although I know that I have to work on some descending shifts that have caused me to go slightly out tune. Hope you all enjoy it.

Thanks for all your kind comments.

This discussion includes members-only video content

13 Responses
Posted: May 27, 2018

Elke Meier
Happy birthday, dear teacher :)!
Well, Beth, in your part of the world your birthday hasn't quite started yet, but in my part of the world my calender already tells me that today is your birthday :). Correct?

                               H A P P Y   B I R T H D A Y !!

It is such a privilege to know you! Thank you for being who you are! I hope that in spite of what happened the last few days you will still be able to enjoy your birthday and have a chance to celebrate with some friends and with your family. 

I wish you God's blessing in this coming year and that some of the joy you give to your students will also come back to you as the teacher!

19 Responses
Posted: June 8, 2018

Practice Course pieces
Maybe a stupid question, but I assume it's better to choose a piece I haven't played yet?
Ought it to be a challenge, or something comfortable?  I know, you said 'at your level', but I'm not sure how I'd define that (e.g. play something beautifully, so in a way very easy, or something, that stretches you and helps you grow). 

2 Responses
Posted: June 8, 2018

Gerri Hynes
Hello from Canada!
Hello VLabbers!
I'm back. I tried to post a hello yesterday but it doesn't seem to have registered anywhere that i can see. If it did, then i apologize for the repeat message!  I just wanted to say hello and say how excited I  am to be back in the Violin Lab world! I missed reading everyone's comments and seeing the progress.  I'm most excited about the new practice course! I've already watched a bunch of the videos and have picked up some great tips! I love Beth's teaching! Thank you Beth!!! I'm doing a recital on Sunday playing Rieding's Concerto and your tutorial has saved my life! I couldn't get that high B in tune!!! Thank you so much!!! 
Look forward to catching up with everyone!

5 Responses
Posted: June 7, 2018

Juan Pimienta
Practice course guidance
Hi Beth, I am really happy to let you know that I have just purchased the practice course!!! Im really excited to start but before I go willy nelly choosing music, I really would appreciate your orientation on what music would suit me best since I am uncertain about what level of playing Im actually in. Thank you so much for having spent time developing this awesome course for us.


3 Responses
Posted: June 6, 2018

Liv Ferrari
4th finger and Flexor Digitorum Superficialis - are you missing a muscle in your pinky?

Hi everyone, Iíve been here a month and itís nice to see learner videos Ė I hope to put one up soon and join a web live session too. 

I have a question about the flexor digitorum superficialis (FDS), one of two muscles that control your 4th /pinky finger.  It is quite common to have an Ďabsent FDSí in one or both hands Ė supposedly missing in around 10%-18% of people! I only just found out about it!

You can read about it here:


Here is a discussion about it on, with a link for a test to see if you have yours:

In the above discussions, quite a few people said that missing theirs doesnít affect their playing at all, so donít worry just yet!

It seems like it could be a problem for professional violinists Ė this interesting article talks about that a bit more:


I am missing mine in both 4th fingers, but only found out recently! I started playing again this year after learning very sporadically in the past (I have never really got out of the beginner stage). I remember teachers telling me to do things with my 4th finger that I found quite hard even though I practised.

Does anyone know the ways in which having an absent FDS might affect violin playing?


If you donít have one then you canít bend your 4th finger properly when your other fingers are held straight.

Obviously you would never need to put your hand in this position while playing, but I find my 4th finger to be weak, unwieldy, and difficult to control.  It also aches quite often even though I only practise for half an hour a day at the moment.


Here are 3 things that I find hard. I wonder if itís because of this, or if they are hard in general:

1)      I am starting to learn vibrato and while I have a decent amount of flexibility in the 1-3rd finger joints, my 4th is completely rigid when I try.

2)      Possibly linked to the above point: In this (weirdly amusing) video there, is an interesting vibrato practise technique - you grip a straw or pen with your middle finger joint while relaxing the top one.

I can only do it for fingers 1-3; my 4th curls up on itself into a tight ball!

Video: (go to 6.30)

Beth Ė is this technique useful?

3)      A third thing is one I noticed today I was trying to figure out the 2nd octave of C major in 1st position.  I tried to do a pinky slide from B to C on the E string with my other fingers held down, but found I canít.


I think all these problems can probably be worked around quite easily in the future with shifting and maybe by just not relying on my 4th finger too much. Itís interesting that top players seem to lack this problem Ė is it absolutely necessary to have this muscle to be a pro/reach a high level? Or do players lacking one just get frustrated with their teacher telling them to practise harder on something they canít do, and are more likely to give up?

I think itís better to know so that you can work around the problem!

It would be interesting you hear your thoughts, experience and advice!


P.s. sorry for the essay Ė I see not everyone is a native English speaker and I tried to make it not too long

3 Responses
Posted: June 7, 2018

Fabiano Formiga de Carvalho
discourse on the violin method - II


The autodidact is born by necessity and grows up within an addiction. Self-learning becomes a vice.


Getting used to the search of solutions through a trial-and-error approach, perhaps overvaluing intuition, the autodidact has difficulties following a teacher. The ease to find out a new method to achieve something turns against him.


Here is a draft of the announced reflexions on Beth's didactic and the self-learning.


A starting point.


The background is the old problem of the method - accross the way, the road, in Greek. It'll be a little discourse on the violin method, parodying Renť Descartes.



1 Responses
Posted: June 7, 2018

Seitz Chords

You play these chords with much lightness even though they are being played out. Can you suggest a change I can make to duplicate that articulation that you are getting? Mine seem to be too horizontal, but I can't seem to effect a change that works.

I'm trying to play the chords both with a spiccato like generous sound, but also with some vertical movement to give it a little more lightness. Suggestions welcome.

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2 Responses
Posted: June 6, 2018

Beryl Nyamwange
I just want to say THANK YOU to Beth for these resources. 

I am 9 months old in my violin journey and I have been using Suzuki books and Essential Elements. I am so glad to see some of these in the resources page. 

We have recently moved from South Africa to Asia, and I am so glad I can learn from home. 

Thank you again. 

3 Responses
Posted: June 7, 2018

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