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Timothy Smith
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I heard this song and fell in love with it because according to the author, when he was a child, soon after his grandmother departed this earth, she came to him in a dream and they danced together. This is the music he heard in the dream.
Issues I am working on correcting-
- that 4th finger Eb on the A string isn't on target. Intonation in general needs work.
- Some cross string noise
- Probably the most annoying thing though is when I move up the 6 16th notes. I only seem to get maybe 4 on on one bow. The whole thing seems off and is throwing my timing off.
I need some way to more smoothly get across those 16th notes. Suggestions welcome! How would you transition 16th notes on one bow? What bow techniques do you use?
Here is a link to the Stella's waltz in pdf format. can be downloaded if you wish to look it over or try playing it.


Timothy Smith
19 Responses
Posted: June 30, 2019
Last Comment: July 7, 2019
Replies

Dianne
Posted: July 7, 2019
You may be doing that with your thumb when you are playing though.

The square depends on the length of your arm. When you create a 90 degree angle with the bow arm, that could be higher on the bow with a longer arm or right at the middle of the bow with a different arm length. Then from the square is the easiest for faster playing, atleast that is what my teacher had me doing last Christmas in lightening fast passages. I kept moving a little bit toward the frog as if it felt better for me though. As far as the balance point of your bows, I just read an old thread toady on balance point that was very informative.

Someone please correct me if I am wrong on any of this!

Dianne
Posted: July 7, 2019
Thank you for posting the picture Tim. It's hard to do holding the bow in the air, but totally upright it may be easier or else on the strings. The thumb should be curved and the inside left corner of the thumb rests between the thumb leather and the frog, the pinky on the top of the stick, more specifically described as just behind the top, but I don't always do that, it rests right on the top sometimes depending on what I'm playing.

Timothy Smith
Posted: July 7, 2019
Revisiting this issue once again. I believe I have figured out a way to do exercises using only my fingers. Now if I can just keep at them for awhile maybe it will help. This is the danger in staying at the upper 1/3rd of the bow all the time. I don't believe the fingers see as much action. No action no improvement.

Dianne, I'm not sure what you mean by the 'square'. I did a test on the weight distribution on two of my bows. The balance point on one wood bow is at 28mm from the frog end. On another CF bow that measurement is 24mm. The wood bow is much heavier too making bow bounce more of a possibility.  I plan to learn all technique and make no concessions for music type. In reality I think I'm probably closer to just above the balance point when typically playing. I might have made my example a bit extreme. It is true I have seen many "fiddlers" play on the end of the bow more. My teacher had commented that they were being lazy lol. Bow bounce seems to be minimized past the balance point toward the tip. Any movements on or below that point usually trigger lots of bow bounce.

I posted a pic of my thumb position in the bow hold here.

Ted. It seems we are or were going through many of the same struggles. It isn't shown here, but I also "reposition " my chair. When I play sitting , I spin the chair to the right with respect to where my bottom is. This usually clears the right chair arm for those long bow strokes.



Dianne
Posted: July 5, 2019
Tim, can you shoot a view of your thumb on the bow hold?
On the bow hold, make sure your pinky is curved when you are at the frog, and throughout the whole bow stroke.
Playing so high in the bow is unfortunately not as good for tone, but since this is a fiddle tune, playing at the tip is probably fine. If you are doing detache in classical playing, I believe at the square is where you want to be for tone and great control using wrist and finger movement for really fast playing. I kept moving toward the frog and my teacher would ask me to move more toward the square for those really fast passages. I saw a great player play lightening fast toward the frog but it was a habit they had and it was tiring for them. At the square, it's effortless.
Hope this helps.

Ted Adachi
Posted: July 5, 2019
Hi Tim,
Your ideas about wrist movement is good but you need to incorporate finger movement as well. Beth's videos 85 and 86 will show you more what I mean.

I am a little bit wary about that chair you sit in with the armrest. I spent the first year and half playing sitting down and I realize that my chair really constricted the movement of my right arm. It was much more comfortable sitting down and playing standing up introduces, for me, whole sets of posture problems but when I was sitting down, I could never extend my lower right arm without hitting something (my leg, a table top…) and so I got used to playing with short strokes which I had to unlearn.

Again, take a look at Beth's performance video of Suzuki Bk 1 Minuet 1 (video 144) and watch her bow arm. You can see her lower arm extends while her shoulder remains quiet and how her fingers flex as she plays at the frog and tip (put it in slow motion).

More about the chair. I can now play and sit down (though I don't often do it). I make concessions to how I sit in order to be able to extend my right arm. So I'm not saying that you can't sit and play but you need to be conscious of the negative affects that sitting may have on your technique.

Barb Wimmer
Posted: July 5, 2019
That is so true what Elke said control and looseness.  Sometimes I practice a phrase or a few  notes over and over to where I want it and then rhythm goes out the window. Very well done Tim. You play with such ease and sounded great

Timothy Smith
Posted: July 5, 2019
This discussion includes members-only video content

Dianne, I will look at these suggestions to hopwefully help in this and thank you. Lesley, My teacher has told me this time and again lol. I guess if I can't play it slow I have no business trying to play it fast.
Ted, Thanks for your comments. I posted another fast video to this thread to show better how I'm trying to hold the bow. My little finger does tend to go off of the bow at times though when I'm on the distant strokes.

Ted Adachi
Posted: July 3, 2019
Hi Tim,
I don't feel that comfortable giving advice as I have so many technical problems I'm still dealing with but…

Maybe you could shoot a video from your bow hand side. That way we could see the flexibility of your elbow and see how much your lower arm is moving, the stillness of your shoulder and your bow hold.

Like I said, I spent a lot of time watching Beth's perfomance videos of Minuet 1 and 2 from Book 1. You can see how her fingers and wrist and lower arm move in unison to make a flowing bow movement. This is the motion you want to try and replicate I think.

I will add though, that I think all those 16th note runs sound good played as upbow slurs. I play them like that as well as all the three note figures (DBD and BGB in bars 2 and 4, for instance) as slurs as well.

Lesley
Posted: July 3, 2019
I think, in general, you should maybe try going a lot slower. Especially those fast passages. If you were to practice them verrrrrry slowly, trying to get everything "right" before upping the tempo, and then only upping it a bit and trying to get everything right at that tempo before raising it again, and really not attempting performance tempo until you were ready -- I know that probably sounds tedious as all heck but it's really a good way to practice. Going slowly gives your fingers and your brain and all the other bits the time they need to really absorb the complexity. The brain needs time to make all those connections so that you can -- eventually! -- hit the notes exactly right in rapid sequence and get your finger over onto the other string before the bow and use just enough bow in the right spot and so on.

Dianne
Posted: July 3, 2019
Hi Tim, Not sure if I'm seeing your bow hold right, but is your bow hand thumb curved and not straight? It may just be the way you are holding the bow up in the air. That will help with the wrist flexibility. Also, you might want to check out the video on collé or any of the bowing videos that contain discussion on finger motion. The fingers and wrist flexibility will work together to give you that flexible, fast bow with tiny bows for faster notes. I spent an entire summer on finger motion, about 2 or  3 months, but it was worth it. Not only did it help me on my journey to fast playing (still on it!) but it changed my sound. Once you get that flexibility in the bow hand fingers, then you can work on using dotted rhythms to speed things up. Or you could use them right now as well. This can help to train the speed of the string crossing and coordination of the hands. These are all just guesses, but there are great videos in the practice course on fast playing, but I think the bow hold and the finger flexibility might be the next step to getting there.  But this is just a student's guess. You are right to always disengage the shoulder. As you go faster, the movement changes from open/closing elbow to just the wrist when playing super fast.

Timothy Smith
Posted: July 3, 2019
This discussion includes members-only video content

Elke, Thanks for this. Good luck to you as well in finding the fix for these issues. I have posted a follow up video I hope will lead to a correction.

 I think one of the issues I have  is too much tension in my upper arms/shoulder. I believe Beth recently mentioned the timing between the fingers and bow seem perceptually the same in timing to our senses yet in reality things aren't arriving art quite the right times.

In thinking about this I asked myself which is faster the bow or the fingers? I would say the bow is faster by a long margin, so even if we have good bow movements the fingers have a hard time competing with the efficiency of the bow as compared to the fingers in speed.

If I understood Beth correctly, she indicates that if we make the same moves at the same time with both bow and fingers the fingers will arrive late by fractions of a second. In order to offset this problem the fingers need to begin slightly early or the bow needs to lag for the fingers. I'm still not exactly sure how to train my brain to move my fingers ahead of my bow slightly. I also think bow pressure and tension have an effect on faster playing. One thing I have learned is I can't play faster if I am in any way tense. I'm trying to see my arm/wrist as more fluid and not firm. Smaller free moves for faster notes.  Maybe a step above a rubber band. Like a controlled rubber band :) I was told this violin needs some work on the fingerboard since it is worn. I'm wondering if this is throwing my crossings off a bit.

If everything worked the way I dreamed it would hearing a messy attack or tone would signal an automatic response to either speed up finger action or slow down the bow in relation to the fingers in order to better align bow with fingering hand.



Elke Meier
Posted: July 3, 2019
Timothy, for me one of the biggest challenges in violin playing is that you simultaneously need complete looseness and complete control. I spent more than an hour yesterday just playing Schradieck and scales, concentrating on exactly that. Here is what happens when those two are not present simultaneously:

As long as it is nice and slow I can play it nice and even. But as soon as it speeds up the fingers of the left hand start to take on a life of their own. In a scale, finger number 2 often goes down involuntarily, right after number 1 and a split second before it should. In a slur this unevenness leads to a break in the rhythm. And in detaché this split second is enough to then have lack of coordination between the left and right hand and leads to an unclear beginning of the note. This I feel does not remedy itself. My arms have to learn: fingers first, then bow - and that with consistency and complete relaxation. 

In slow playing my intonation is pretty secure. As soon as I speed up the fingers don't find their distances any more and intonation becomes shaky. I am not sure how to fix this. Much practice has not been able to really remedy this. Maybe it also has to do with my rheumatic fingers - or that it just is not enough practice yet... 

And in fast playing in string crossings the bow often does not attack the new string properly, leading to a change in tone quality. This again I find is a field where deliberate isolated practice really, really helps. This is something I approach with bowline practice.

I hear some of the same problems in your recording... 

Timothy Smith
Posted: July 2, 2019
Lesley, you certainly seem to be coming along well in your playing from what I have heard. 
I'm glad you can relate to this. On the other hand I wish it was an easier journey sometimes.I believe many players suffer from "clunkiness".
When I think of experienced players I think relaxed, in control, confident. My teacher could pick this up and play it better sight reading than I could in a month. I think my gig with that teacher is over though since she is moving :(  
In contrast, inexperienced players have to think more about what they are doing. I am certainly still a beginner at this. I'm sure that you can look back and see where you once were and you see progress. This makes me feel a bit better about the journey :) If I come as far as I have came thus far in a few years I will feel a lot better about this.

Ted, Thanks for listening! Cal Scott wrote this tune. I played the Eb on the A string, however I took the rest to the E string. I'll look more into this. Thanks!

I still plan to post a followup, but I was distracted by an amateur video editing project tonight :P. 

Ted Adachi
Posted: July 2, 2019
Hello Tim,
Thanks for this. It is such a lyrical tune. Who is the composer?

After playing this a bit more I have to revise what I said before.

For the Eb, I find the phrase makes more sense if you shift and play it all on the A string

For getting the smoothness between notes (in general) I think that finger action (and wrist action) is the key. I don't know if Beth really did videos about this but I watched her performance videos from Book 1 and tried to copy her hand and wrist movements to get a feeling of what finger action meant.

Lesley
Posted: July 2, 2019
"Clunky" -- I totally know what you mean. This is to me one of the trickiest things about mastering the violin: making it all sound flow-y. And while there are a lot of things going on that feed into this, string crossings seem pretty key. Right now (in my quest to find the perfect bowing weight+pressure) I'm experimenting with putting a little more pressure as I cross from one string to another, whether as a slur or as up-and-down bowing. Seems to be helping. I think that aspect (pressure) may be discussed in one of the videos...

Timothy Smith
Posted: July 2, 2019
I want to thank you all for your responses and comments. It should be such a simple thing, to "transition" the notes. Lesley, I guess I mean the way an experienced violinist makes it look so seamless and easy to move up faster passages. I tried more of a slur instead of the way Dianne explains it by the example. I was chaining all of the notes on one bow. I was able to do that but it isn't correct.
Last night I tried to play the notes in fast succession. I can do it but I was getting some bow bounce. If it were graded I would have been a D+ or maybe  a C-. Kevin Burke does it in A fashion.

If I get the chance I'll try to post another video of the run done in the different ways I do it to see which is best. It should be a simple process. For me it sounds very clunky. I want smooth not segmented lol.

Lesley
Posted: July 1, 2019
By "transition the notes," are you referring to the string crossing? If so, have you checked out Beth's videos on the topic (Video Lessons Library > Topics & Tag Words > String Crossings)?
Nice bowing btw -- you're bang in the middle of both the bow and the sounding point and you stay there, not wander all over the place like me!

Maria
Posted: July 1, 2019


Tim,

What a beautiful piece! I thought it sounded familiar as if I've heard it in one on the Korean dramas I've watched, perhaps not. Most likely because it stays in the heart once you've listened to it for the second time.

Not to worry, you'll get in no time and will look forward on your completion of this beautiful piece.

Thank you for sharing the PDF and Dianne thank you for sharing the link...

7-1-19
4:10am
[just finish cooking meat Korma to go with Basmati rice, going to sleep]

Dianne
Posted: June 30, 2019
What I hear in this recording is separate bows for the (6) 16th notes. Also, be sure to hold out the dotted and tied quarter notes.