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what is the best way to memorize a piece of music?
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14 Responses
Posted: January 17, 2012


What is exactly a Masterclass? I thought it was where one person plays a piece and gets a critique while others watched and then the others play and get critiqued as well.  My daughter thought it was like a "section " class where like instruments received specific instruction regarding their particular instrument.  Her "masterclass" in summer camp was where all the clarinets got in a room and received tips and such specifically for their section.  What will the Masterclass at the VLR (Violin lab reunion) be like?

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5 Responses
Posted: January 25, 2012

To be happy or not to be happy? That is my question!

I'm so happy today that I have the need to tell others why. I found a well qualified teacher that I hope she will help me to improve faster in this journey of learning our beloved musical instrument. The studio is just a few blocks from my house, approximately 4 to 5 minutes drive including the time to install the violin in the car and open the fence.

Those are in the good part. Now for the bad part, her hourly rate is more than three times of what others usually ask. Yesterday, I went for my first lesson and after a few minutes of playing open strings, she asked me for a note pad and then it took her approximately 30 minutes to write down my homework while I was just standing there, and that was it.

I may be wrong, but I think it was 45 minutes lesson instead of 60 minutes. I hope the next lesson will be more substantial because I really will like to have someone to guide me.


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24 Responses
Posted: January 20, 2012

Hi Beth, and all of my fellow violinists,

I've taken a few shots of my bow hold, from different angles. This is in response to a rather cryptic remark from my new teacher  (I've never had a lesson before! Initial signs are that it will be very worthwhile.) He noted the angle of my thumb (tends to be perpendicular to the stick), and the degree to which it bends when holding the bow, but said it'll do.

I expect he'll pick me up on it at a later date, but for now, can anyone comment?

This is how I normally end up holding the bow after a few minutes. I have a problem with my thumb gradually shuffling in the direction of the arrow on picture 5. Is there something I could change that would prevent this?

Also, I'm unclear about the position of the bow stick relative to the creases of the first finger. I was holding it so that the bow was on the pad between the first two creases, nearer to the crease pointed to with an arrow in picture 2, but I can only get my thumb at the angle shown in the photos by placing the stick pretty much in the first crease.

Which is better?

Thanks for looking!

Richard B
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8 Responses
Posted: January 25, 2012

Have you heard the saying that it is better to play one piece of music really well than 100 mediocrely?

Sadly to say, as much as I want to play one piece very well, I wind up adding more pieces to my practice and afraid that this is not in my best interest to play "really well".  So many wonderful pieces of music, and so little time!  I am on my own here without an instructor, so it is up to me to decide what to spend my limited time on.  In addition, my interests are in several genres of music.

At the moment I am practicing 2 Suzuki pieces, 4 Irish fiddle tunes, 2 old-time fiddle tunes along with a Kreutzer etude and Beth’s finger and vibrato exercises.  I tend to add a few other tunes to this every day, as the mood strikes.  Is this too much?  Or am I on the right track?

My problem is I see myself not stopping there but only adding to it, I keep discovering more music that I want to play and practice.  This has become exceedingly difficult to narrow my repertoire for the sake of quality playing.  Does anyone else have this struggle?  What are your suggestions to “editing out”?    


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7 Responses
Posted: January 24, 2012

Please Help :  Vibrato ..... when my finger touches the neighboring higher string a bleeping occurs from sympathetic tones from that string.   It is worse with the forth finger on D &A.  Should one not touch that string or make sure it stays down?    Cannot find anything on the internet that deals with this

problem.......or is it peculiar to me only.   Both my arm and wrist vibratos and combination thereof are taking shape up to c.320/min and ready for use on suitable sustained notes.  Very frustrating !       Barry

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2 Responses
Posted: January 23, 2012

I have been playing violin for almost 2 years now, and have not been using any method book.

I am considering purchasing Superstudies. However my daughter has Essential Elements that I could use.  Would you recommend Superstudies over Essential Elements?

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1 Responses
Posted: January 25, 2012

Hi Beth and the Gang,
(Hey, that sounds like the name of a 70's band!)

To my question...

In one of your vibrato videos I think I recall you mentioning something like the "natural adhesion of the skin of the thumb" to the neck of the violin. And your point was that this flexibility allowed the thumb both to stick in place, and flex a bit without actually losing its connection to the neck. I'm paraphrasing very loosely, of course.

I don't seem to have this 'stickyness' at all in the skin of my fingers. In fact, the skin of my fingers is so dry that I cannot make them stick to the fingerboard on the strings, and my thumb can slide all up and down the neck with only the tiniest bit of resistance.

However, I can lick the tips of my fingers and the pad of my thumb (much like you would do to turn the page of a book) and viola, vibrato!

Clearly the adhesion of the moistened fingertips overcomes the lack of rubbery-flexibility (which I'll never haver at my age) of the finger-joints. But picture me in front of my audience licking my fingers every couple of bars of the Meditation! People are going to think, "What the... Did this guy come right to the recital from KFC?"

Anyway, although I continue to work on the vibrato exercises, I am anticipating the future-frustration when I can never get my finger-tips to stick while my hand is vibrating.

I've even thought of getting some of that sticky stuff that people use in office environments to make their fingers sticky when working with a lot of sheets of paper.

I'm open to suggestions. Anyone? Bueller?
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3 Responses
Posted: January 24, 2012

My Super Studies for Violin Book 1 arrived today. It is only 13 pages, but I can see from the outset that this book contains many of the note combinations that I have been having a problem playing in some of the Suzuki songs. With your great demonstrations, this book will also help with rhythm until my Rhythm a Day book arrives. Thank you.

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0 Responses
Posted: January 24, 2012

Beth Blackerby
Saw this in Facebook this morning. So cool!!!!!
This discussion includes members-only video content

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9 Responses
Posted: January 23, 2012

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