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Hi, I never really post any videos of myself as I do have a teacher and he tells me where I need to work to improve next....I have posted in the past a video as I was preparing to perform a piece to perform to a small audience so in that case I wanted as many people to feedback to me as possible, not just my teacher, not that I don't trust him, but I think it is nice to get many 'perspectives' before a performance is due as after all I would be presenting my piece to many people.

Anyway, after that I never really post any videos of myself as I think I can't really play ANYTHING well enough to come here and post something to entertain you with, this is the honest truth, I am not writing this to get any attention or any 'here here Jo' replies, this is the true honest opinion of my playing.  I hope to be a good violinist one day, but I am really not there yet, far from it.

BUT, I have had a couple of people (one especially, you know who you are) who have been kindly asking me to post a video  as they are very genuinely interested in hearing how I am getting on/progressing with my violin learning.

So here I am posting a video.

How I am getting on?  My honest opinion?  I think I am still at the same stage I was roughly 10 months ago, still STUCK at playing slow pieces (this is a slow piece), still NOT confident in playing fast bits, in fact in this piece I am NOT confident in the fast passage in the beginning (well it's not fast but it's faster than the rest).  I am learning other pieces, including fast ones with my teacher (ie Vivaldi 4 seasons and Bach Allemande etc but they are really too bad to post here)

This piece I only really practiced for 2 weeks, spending approximately 20 to 30 minutes on it per day (5 days a week, so I spent ten days on it). If you wonder how long it took me to play it the way I play it.  So I don't find it challenging, although as you can hear, I still play it rather poorly!!!  It would take me another 6 months to play it 'ok'.

10 Responses
Posted: August 27, 2011
Last Comment: September 1, 2011

Posted: September 1, 2011
I have had moments during practice where I do just that Jo....and it does make a difference !  To tell the truth....I actually got to a place when playing in church...where I wasn't nervous anymore.....but.......then I "realized" that I wasn't nervous anymore...and got nervous about that !!  LOL !!

Back to square one !  x-D   It's a mind game really...just an incredible mind game !

Anne aMaudPowellFan
Posted: September 1, 2011
Jo, that's completely true. I had issues with anxiety on stage, and one of the things I did is self-hypnosis. I have a slightly different outlook, not so much telling yourself something that you don't believe in, but more like creating an image of yourself that your unconscious can accept and strife for. And do it during practice, too, not just in performance. It's enjoyable, too.

Posted: September 1, 2011
Eileen, I was talking to my colleague who I share the office with....
she plays the piano to a standard a little higher than where I am at the moment with violin...

she said that when she plays she always pretends to be a concert pianist....whether she actually sounds like one or not and whether she actually believes she sounds like one or not she said it doesn't matter, she says the trick is that you have to 'pretend' to be one.

She said to me 'don't you know how to be an actor? Even if you know you don't sound like one, you HAVE to be pretend to be a concert violinist! that's how it all starts! If you pretend to be one eventually one day you will believe you are one (whilst you are performing) and then that will transpire in your playing and in your learning!'

That's what she said to me.   I think she might be right!  As I went to an hypnotherapist and that's what she said to me about the brain....she said the brain is very 'foolish' and can 'be tricked', and she did say to me you have to teach it to believe certain things....
at the time it was about indeed confidence in other parts of my life (which now I don't have an issue with anymore) and she said to me to tell myself certain things just before I fell asleep and just as I woke up in the morning, it was along the lines of:  I love myself, I am strong, I am beautiful etc etc (I can't remember it was a loooooong time ago)  I remember the hypnotherapist telling me I HAD TO tell myself these things religiously even though I really did not believe them and HAD to keep doing it indefinitely as my brain one day 'will' believe them and will automatically accept them to be REAL.

Why I don't do something that simple now with the violin?
Please give me a kick in the butt do it NOW every day with the violin Eileen LOL LOL LOL 

Posted: August 31, 2011
Jo, what you said about the "negative" thoughts is right on.  I have the same issue....lack of confidence. I don't think I can..and so I don't.  It's that simple. 

If you ever do find a trick to getting past that....do let me know...and I'll do the same for you !  What a crippling nuisance that is !!  >:-\

Posted: August 29, 2011
Jo - many thanks for posting this.  I used to perform piece this many years ago on the flute and it brought back good memories! 

Slow and fast pieces are both difficult in their own way; fast pieces demand good technique and with slow ones we need great control over tone and intonation.  It's probably true that with faster pieces you can get away with more mistakes because they happen so fast the audience may not notice, which could be why people say they're easier, however with slow pieces there's no chance to hide anything!

I enjoyed your video and liked the articulation and phrasing, and your shifting.  Anne make some good sugestions about trying to relax and enjoy it!  I think this will free up the sound and let it really sing.  I've found reading 'The Inner Game of Music' very helpful in this, but I still get tense when the video camera goes on!

Thanks for sharing.


Posted: August 28, 2011
Hello everybody :)

Anne, perhaps I look in pain because I am?  on a serious note....when I play I am 'not' confident AT ALL, in my head there is constant thoughts of 'I can't play this well', 'I am going to play this out of tune', 'I am going to play this run uneven', 'it's going to sound shaky', 'it will sound overall quite horrible', 'oooh listen to that, that note was quite off, that bow was quite squeaky', 'will I be able to do the next shift cleanly enough?', 'will I hit Fsharp too sharp?' and on and on and on and on.  Therefore I think this transpires in my look, my face in turns will always look quite serious and if I hear anything I don't like in what I play I will 'screw my face', I used to 'screw it' quite a lot and I am learning to control it but 'alas', although I am getting better, I STILL do it!  Guess it will take  LONG TIME AND A LOT OF EFFORT to improve that aspect!!!
So even though I think I am now better in the way that I finally no longer believe I am totally useless on the violin, I 'STILL' have to improve quite a lot on my 'pshyche' unfortunately :'(  and this is HOLDING ME BACK A LOT in my progress too, I am convinced that if it wasn't for this I'd be progressing much better!
It is NOT good to practice/play and tell yourself 'you will make a mistake', you only teach your brain to believe you will and then you WILL do it!

Enough of that now....

As for the rest, thank you everyone, these are all things I have addressed with my teacher already.  Beth, just the things you mentioned, hehehehe my teacher picked me on that already, not on this piece as I have not done this piece with him at all!  I have done this piece all by myself, he doesn't even know I have looked at it as he's been on holiday for the past 6 weeks!  But he has pointed out to me in other pieces the exact same thing you have about the rhythm, that I hold onto the 1st note a little too long LOL

And yes, my control at the frog is not as good as at the tip, I knew/felt this already, but that is my fault as I have not done the exercises my teacher 'prescribed' in a very long time (one of them would be to do kreutzer 2 with bow variations, he wants me to do it with tip only then middle of bow only then frog end only, with different types of slurs: first slur 2 notes and 2 notes detached then 1st detached 2 middle slurred last detached and finally first 2 detached and last 2 slurred, then first 3 slurred last detached and then first 3 slurred and last detached, of course also all of them all detached and all slurred, all combinations LOL).

Many people tell me fast pieces are easier but I am sorry to disagree...in 'my case anyway' (and my teacher agrees with me), I find slow pieces much easier.  Ok, here you can say: 'But look Jo, you can't play the slow pieces well, see how difficult they are???' and you are right, I can't play them well! But you have not seen me/heard me trying to learn a fast piece have you?? I struggle A LOT MORE!!  I still have NOT been able to achieve ONE fast piece yet!  Ok, you can play them a little slower, but I can't even achieve a pace acceptable enough!  My teacher knows my 'strong point' is slow pieces so now he is giving me a 'diet' of fast pieces, he does not want to do slow pieces with me!! if he knows I've spent time on the Melodie and Sarasate Playera he'll get mad at me as I was supposed to practice Summer from the Four Seasons (which I can only play at 50% of the speed :( and Allemande from Solo Bach (which is actually not fast but we have just started it before he went on holiday! and I have only done it twice in the 6 weeks he's been away LOL)

Anne aMaudPowellFan
Posted: August 28, 2011
Hi Jo,

nice to hear you playing once more. There is definitely improvement with intonation and straight bowing, also vibrato at the beginning. Congratulation on your progress!

If you are looking for constructive criticism, I have two points. Take them with a grain of salt, of course: First, I feel you could aim for more sensual bowing, with more bow weight, better contact between fingers and bow and more finger flexibility, particularly at the frog. I know that the dynamics of this piece are soft, but anyway, it shouldn't sound whispery or tentative. Perhaps try it out with another piece or scales first. Second, we all need to mix the emotion we want to convey into our practicing and our practice performances, right from the start, not later kind of as an icing on the cake, but right from the beginning. Honestly, Jo, you look like you are in pain. This is beautiful music, and you are presenting to your friends where you are with it. Granted it is not perfect but whose playing is? You've worked on it and you are going to develop it further, so I just wish that you enjoy yourself more!

As others have said, I think slow pieces are harder to play well than more lively ones. Eventually, I did not include this "Dance of the Blessed Spirits" in my little program of dances earlier this year, because I found it much more difficult to bring off than the others. So you've set yourself a difficult task.

I hope you find it worthwhile to have asked for feedback here, and I hope that we'll all have the courage to use this forum the way it was intended to, without apologies for our shortcomings, in the interest of advancing our playing.

Hope to listen to your playing again soon!

Posted: August 28, 2011

Hi Jojo,

First let me join in the chorus of saying well done.  You have the courage to post and that is the next large step in getting the most from this site and there by Beth and her 40 years of experience. 

Nice straight bow and it looks like you are glued to the sounding point.  And to think that level violin is without a shoulder rest.  Cool.

One of the things that I need to learn and one that you already have is no looking at either your right or left hand but at the work.  

Keep up the great work.



Posted: August 27, 2011
Thank you for sharing Jo !  Nicely done !

We're all at different levels of learning and abilities and it's wonderful to hear one of my friends here post of their progress.  Please don't be shy about posting or feel that you have to apologize for your playing !  None of us are where we want to be, but coming here and learning from Beth and from each other is part of hopefully getting where we desire to be in our abilities !  I'm glad you took the leap !!  ;-)

I do find slower pieces harder to play than those with a quicker tempo and I believe, for the reasons that Beth mentions.  Not only in timing/tempo wise, but in keeping an even tone through the bowings.   Nice shifting BTW !   I'm not going to pretend to be competent to teach anyone, but one thing I noticed, though you do keep that bow nicely in the sounding point.....I think that you are moving your upper arm more than you aught and are not "throwing those darts", which was a way Beth used to try to explain or describe how the bow arm is supposed to move.  I too still have that issue myself and am always reminding myself to "push away" with that bow arm....so that's probably why I noticed that in your vid.

Beth Blackerby
Posted: August 27, 2011
Hi Jo, thanks for sharing! I personally enjoy watching you all progress! And I think you have, particularly in your tone and control near the tip of the bow, as well as your shifting technique.

Here's my feedback:
Be careful with the rhythm. Slow music is much harder to play rhythmically because there is so much expanse in the space between beats. In particular the figure:

should be even. It sounds like you are wanting to nuance the first note a little, which is ok (sometimes), but not all the time.

Lastly, how are you feeling at the frog? Do you feel you are in complete control (a relative term I know) there?