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Elke Meier
Today was a wonderful music day. My guests had left, the other people in the house were still travelling and today is still a holiday in Germany - so I could practice to my heart's delight :).  

And then I decided that I will put Beth's practice method to the test: I have a book by Oskar Reading "Sechs leichte Vortragsstücke" (six easy recital pieces). They are really nice, all in first position. They go from easy to a little more difficult. The first piece, Nocturne, I could always just sight read. The second one, Impromptu, has a couple of spots I just could not get right; I always kind of muddled through. The third one, Romance I practiced A LOT for our virtual recital a year and a half ago - but I can't really do it any more. I get stuck at the same places as I got stuck back then. Number four needs fast fingers, which I don't have, and numbers 5 and 6 I have never tried. They are challenging rhythmically, have slurs and dotted notes in weird places and one is 12/8 beat to begin with - not my favorite... 

So today I practiced the Impromptu with the bow line. It was really interesting! For the first time I could get through the difficult spots without just muddling through! It felt great! It REALLY is worth so much to separate the left and right hand!!

And one thing I noticed right away: working with the bow line makes me use more bow! That was a surprising discovery! I noticed that when I see four eighth notes under a slur, I use less bow because I have to concentrate on the left hand. And they are short notes, so I tend to give them less bow. But after I put the bow rhythm on the bow line I noticed: Rhythmically, there are very few eighth notes here, they are actually often "hidden" in half notes down and up again. When I see a half note I want to use a full bow and all of a sudden, when I play those eighth notes, but think of the half note value for the bow I find that I use the full bow for these eighth notes patterns. It was a really interesting observation! 

So I plan to work through the book and then present these lovely little pieces to you :). I wonder what it will be like to tackle the pieces I have never been able to do with this method - well, you will get to see whether and how it will work. It will probably be close to summer by the time I get this finished and recorded as April is crazy full with work and I should pack my violin away tomorrow so as not to get tempted... But it sure is a nice project to look forward to! 

10 Responses
Posted: April 2, 2018

Elizabeth TeSelle
Re-Learning after a long time away!
Hi everyone--New here! I recently pulled out my violin after not having played for <gulp> 38 years (!!!) and have joined here to get some help. I played from age 11-17, taking private lessons at a very good music school and was a member of the school's orchestra as well. I was never the best, but at one time I was first chair, second violins, and I played the second violin part of the Bach double. So competent, but n it one of the really talented kid. Which is why I quit--had other things to do once I got to college.

Now I feel a total mess! I can barely read music. I did find, once I had my violin (Tony!) worked on, that my fingers remember some things my brain does not, and I'm working my way through some simple fingering exercises, but it's hard to hear. I find I can remember which finger goes where even when it takes me a minute the work out what note it is.

I never learned Suzuki, which I gather is what is taught on these lesson plans. So I hope that's not just more confusing LOL! Right now I figure I will muddle along for a while and seen what I can get back. I don't want to take real lessons at my current fumbling level.

10 Responses
Posted: April 7, 2018

Kenneth Ozimek
bow hair tention for best spicatto
I was wondering if some of you might have sone thoughts on the best bow tention for optimizing bow control when practicing the spiccatto  bow stroke. The elasticity and spring of the bow seems to be a vital factor in controlling the bow. What say you.

Thank you,

6 Responses
Posted: March 31, 2018

Inge Black
"back muscle" - refined
Hi Beth,
In remediating I came up to left arm in "violin hold" starting around 3:30  You talk of using the "back muscles" and I want to get closer, as to "which" because this is part of my ground zero where things went wrong.  I've already worked with this outside violin, after.

Way back, there was a push against hunching up, and it was "shoulders back and down" (which got me in trouble, and with perpetually engaged back muscles).  The shoulders need to be free to move.   Later I learned it's fine for shoulders to move, that the culprit was "tight neck" - in fact, the trapezius that you highlight; this gigantic set: where we hike up the shoulder instead of raising the arms at the shoulder.   But "back muscle" was too broad for me, as it gets me back to the old bad place.  It seems more to be deltoids and some muscles in that area  that seem to hook into the shoulder blades which themselves are still free to move.  There are probably the actual "back muscles" involved, and that keeps the back itself relaxed and loose for me.  ....... Actually at this point I rarely consider the muscles, and instead check that the "hunch-up muscles" that you highlighted are not engaged (hard) and that my arm can still move at the shoulder joint.  I think it's Mimi Zweig who has that check.  I'm just starting very briefly to be able to raise my arm without things going haywire.

My original lifelong posture was lordosis ("swayback") with a kind of "military" shoulders back.   The old "fixes" against people hunching forward aggravated things (and they're not right for anyone).  I've had to relearn in general even beyond violin, and for violin, I have 4+ years of steady daily wrong practise to unlearn in my body.  "How to raise the arm" without "stuff" kicking in is my next task.  When I briefly play the violin to check things, this is the next place where it goes wrong.

19 Responses
Posted: March 19, 2018

My first video on VL
Looks like I'm using the bow tip too much.  What else is wrong here?
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2 Responses
Posted: April 7, 2018

Hi Everyone,

Simple question, "Am I playing musically?"

Critiques are welcomed and needed.  Cheers.


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8 Responses
Posted: April 2, 2018

Beth Blackerby
More Speeding Up Techniques
At this point, be working on building speed and doing very slow practice together. Some people tend to never pull our all the stops and go fast, and others forget about slow practice once they get going fast.
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5 Responses
Posted: March 30, 2018

Janice Branley
I wanted to share this superb version of a beautiful song.  This young boy held the attention of his audience with such grace and his calm attention to so many aspects of his music was inspiring.

4 Responses
Posted: April 4, 2018

Barb Wimmer
Chords related to notes?
Would anyone know the answer to this? Thank you. I know what a chord is but to figure out each note what chord does it belong to? Or rather how in this song do they come up with a b d are g chord and the e note is part of an A chord? Do I memorize this or what is the system? Hope I make sense. I don’t get it. Thank you
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19 Responses
Posted: April 1, 2018

Barbara Habel
Slow practice
Here is my favourite video on slow practice. And it also explains why I, when playing fast, speed up and up and up. I think fast metronome practice is in order too.
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3 Responses
Posted: April 2, 2018

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