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Kobe Tsang
First of all, I just want to say that this is definitely the best community on the internet! I'm so grateful for everyone's amazing feedback and encouragement, it makes this adventure so much more enjoyable. 

I also loved this concept of posting videos of myself playing (never done that before). This really helps to keep my motivation up to learn the next song and push on. So that got me thinking, maybe I'll use this as like a progress journal and post updates of my progress in the same thread (that way I wont push other people's threads down) 

It would be interesting to see how this goes in a year time! 
Thank you for everyone whose travelling this journey with me!

Kobe Tsang
101 Responses
Posted: July 14, 2019
Last Comment: October 19, 2019
Replies

Dianne
Posted: October 19, 2019
Nice bow tracking! Bravo!

Your sound is very good, and I do remember the pieces getting harder and longer, but you are performing them well with all the hard work.

I still see perhaps (correct me if I am wrong Beth!) that the left arm over rotates to your left when playing on the higher strings and the hand comes a bit under the neck. On the A string, the elbow should more or less look like it is hanging straight down beneath the instrument. Then just a slight rotation to the left for the E string. More of the rotation occurs on the lower two strings. But this all happens naturally from slow practice, not something you have to think about at faster tempos, as long as your left arm and shoulder are free and hanging. So I would try slow practice to get the feel of economy of movement that still maintains hand frame with no squeezing of the thumb. This will be important when playing at faster tempos later. If you slow the video down, can you see it? If you look at String Crossings for the Left hand from 2:01 you see Beth place 3 fingers down on the A string and the arm almost looks like it is hanging almost straight down. Also this video might help: Left Hand Set Up: part 5 - Inside of Hand.

Kobe Tsang
Posted: October 19, 2019
This discussion includes members-only video content

Hi everyone, 

Its been awhile since I've last posted. Mainly because work got hectic and new pieces are getting sooooo hard !! Its taking longer and longer to learn the pieces. Here is my attempt of Minuet 3 at 80% speed. 

Kobe Tsang
Posted: September 25, 2019
Thank you Sarah ! It can be a big struggle sometimes, especially when work is hectic but its a nice feeling when a piece gets easier after practice.

Thank you Beth, I'll try to incorporate the 4th finger abit more. Interesting that you've pointed out the left hand releasing to mimic the bow. I always thought it sounded strange but couldnt work out what the problem was. 

Thank you Dianne, I've been doing the finger movement practice alot but its so hard to it automatically. I find it easier to do it if I hold the bow with my left hand but when the bow is moving, the bow hold would change alittle after I've moved my fingers at the frog of the bow stroke. 

Dianne
Posted: September 23, 2019
Hi Kobe, so nice to see another post from you! Great job as always, and just a thought I had was to try to really curve the pinky on the bow as you approach the frog to avoid the bow trying to point over the left shoulder. Think of curving all fingers and really bringing the bow into the hand and back out again with exercises, even with a pencil, to get the hang of it. The fingers really curve approaching the frog which allows the bow to track straighter.

Beth Blackerby
Posted: September 23, 2019
Hi Kobe, excellent job! I'm so happy to see that even with all the string crossings you are still opening and closing at the elbow! As you went through the piece, your control also improved. At the beginning you accidentally hit the G string a few times but toward the end the sound was much cleaner. 

Play 4th finger at 1:14. That's a spot where the A string color makes the tone more pleasing. Also when you have those double ups on the Gs in the 2nd measure (and all the other times), leave the 3rd finger down without releasing. I can see that you are releasing pressure because your finger wants to mimic the activity of the bow. This is a small detail, but to play cleanly, the most efficient move in this case is to keep the finger pressed down and only the bow articulates the rhythm.

Bravo!

Sarah Bondi
Posted: September 22, 2019
All I can say is wow!   You are very inspiring.   I am struggling to get one hour a day.  You are amazing!

Kobe Tsang
Posted: September 22, 2019
This discussion includes members-only video content

Hi everyone,

Cant believe its been another two weeks ! Time flies so quickly when you try to pack so much in everyday. Work had been hectic so my practice time got massively reduced. Being making sure I always do scales and bow hold exercises as priority each session. Here is Minuet II again

Timothy Smith
Posted: September 3, 2019
Coming along very well Kobe.
Beth has a few posted. I found this one. I know of at least one other I can't look for. I'm at work on a short break.
Here's one called " Fun With Scales" or something similar. Looks like about the most fun you could have with scales. I am traditionally a sour puss when it comes to scales, so I could use some fun :)

Kobe Tsang
Posted: September 3, 2019
This discussion includes members-only video content

I've looked up scale study and have found a number of exercises but didnt see any downloadable pdf, Timothy, would you mind pointing me to the lesson you are talking about? 

I've made another attempt on Minuet II. I think I've fixed up the bowing patterns. The slurs are nice, makes me feel like a real violist!

Timothy Smith
Posted: September 2, 2019
Scales is something I have been neglecting. Just today I downloaded the .pdf of the scales exercises. Really a unique way to play scales in different keys!

Beth Blackerby
Posted: September 2, 2019
Definitely do other things, Kobe. I have all kinds of things on the site. Start looking down the categories, like scales and such. Put "Scale Study" in the search box on the Video Library page and you'll see a bunch of exercises that you can practice in the context of scales. They are designed for any level of student and can be adapted to any scale. 

Kobe Tsang
Posted: September 2, 2019
Thanks Beth, I've went back to add all the bow markings and high lighted all the slurs and retakes. Will be working on this for the coming week ! Is it normally best practice to only work on one piece at a time? Or should I do something else as well along with it? 

Beth Blackerby
Posted: September 1, 2019

Excellent job again, Kobe. I have to urge you again to watch all those bowings in the parts. There are retakes and slurs you're missing, which are integral for the phrasing. 

 Since your piece is fairly easy to learn from a tonality perspective, and because you already have a developed ear, marking the half steps in this case didn't do much for clarification. More difficult pieces, especially where there are passages in higher positions will benefit more from half step/finger pattern analysis. 

The next part of the practice course however, gets into deepening your understanding and command over the right arm. This is where you're going to find the most benefit. If you write a bow line for this piece, you will notice an improvement in overall ease of playing and bow control. Especially because it will force you to factor in bowings :) So go to town with that!  

Kobe Tsang
Posted: September 1, 2019
This discussion includes members-only video content

Cant believe its being another week ! Spent most of this week doing Minuet II. The string crossings is very challenging but I've been doing Beth's practice videos on string crossing. Also being using the skills from the practice course on this piece, labelling all the finger numbers and practice the half steps and full steps first. I must admit that I dont feel like it made the piece any easier to learn, fingerscrossed it will all sink in with time. 

Today is the first day I've memorised the whole piece and being able to play with the backing track at 70% speed. Its so annoying that I could do better when the camera is not on but as soon as I start recording the fingers are all over the place. I cant imagine ever playing with an audience.....

Beth Blackerby
Posted: August 26, 2019
Kobe, you can keep going. The course breaks down into granular levels the process that professionals use. Once some knowledge is figured out, it doesn't require much revisiting. For instance if Im' learning a difficult, modern style symphony part, with notes in high positions, I'll go through and mark half steps. Once I have those markings, I'll be able to glance at them in a heartbeat to remember what patterns to put my fingers in. 

Easier repertoire in familiar styles wouldn't require that I mark half steps in general, unless there's a passage with accidentals. Then half step marks are a nice reminder.

Kobe Tsang
Posted: August 26, 2019
So I've decided to go for the practice course and I've got my half steps marked on Berceuse. Does anyone know how long I should do those half step, full step practice before I move onto the next video? 

Thanks!

Kobe Tsang
Posted: August 24, 2019
Thanks everyone for your support and encouragement, I've had a really bad day yesterday at work and then stayed up late to practice and did the recording which contributed towards the negativity when I saw intonia going blue and red. Feeling much better now after 10 hours sleep and reading all your comments. This road is long indeed and I cant imagine doing this without you guys! You guys rocks ! 

 

James Walley
Posted: August 24, 2019
Absolutely gobsmacked, as the Brits would say. :D  Your tone and overall musicality is outstanding, especially after such a short amount of time.

Frankly, I think I'm going to have to stop watching your videos, or I'm going to get depressed about my progress (or lack of it) by comparison.  Oh, well...better up my practice time to three hours a day!

Gregory Gillis
Posted: August 23, 2019
Kobe your playing is lovely. I like the purity of your intonation as well as your instinct re phrasing. Keep practicing & enjoying this gift called violin.

Ted Adachi
Posted: August 23, 2019
HI Kobe,
I listened to your Minuet from 2 weeks ago and then this one and really, if I had improved so much in just two weeks, I would have been very happy. Your intonation is much, much better now so I don't think you should feel deflated at all.

You've only been at this a very short time. The road is long. Keep on working on it and you will continue to advance.

Dianne
Posted: August 23, 2019
Kobe you are playing this so well. Your first phrase is perfectly in tune, except for a 2nd finger too low in m.7 on the D string, which sets the rest of the notes in that measure a little low. This can be easily corrected by just playing measure 7 in isolation. But starting in measure 8, your hand frame appeared to be set high by a high 1st finger 'B'. You actually have very fine intonation, and would probably benefit from a 1st finger tape for a while, or else catch the higher hand frame as it happens. These are my best guesses. Give yourself a pat on the shoulder for a job well done on Minuet 1.

RE: scales and etudes- these seem to be a longer term project to see results. But playing the problem measures in isolation in your piece is a good idea for fast results on that particular situation happening in that particular measure. (Which finger you are coming from and which finger you are going to in that particular situation).

Kobe Tsang
Posted: August 23, 2019
This discussion includes members-only video content

Its been another week of basics consolidation. Being spending the whole time doing scales and jumping in thirds. Feels like I've made no progress this week, sounds the same as a week ago, still all over the place. Went back to Minuet tonight and find that my wrist is not folding enough at the frog and for some reason the tone is very thin. Is it because I'm bowing too close to the fingerboard? Feeling alittle deflated, was hoping the week of scales would make minuet much easier..... guess I'll do another week of scales and eludes.

Kobe Tsang
Posted: August 19, 2019
This discussion includes members-only video content

Thanks Beth, I've watched all the technique videos on beginner course 2 now and the number of favourited practice videos is building up!

I've also being using drones to tune my violin instead of using a clip on tuner for the past two weeks. I use the 440A on this website to tune the A and tune the others using the fifth. I think I can start to hear the wobble when its out of tune but not when its really close.

Being practicing with intonia today without looking at the screen but review the notes after I've played all the scales to check which finger is out. Im not sure if its just in my head but I feel like when the finger hits the right note spot on, the sound is louder. Almost like my violin's way of telling me it was a good note.  

Beth Blackerby
Posted: August 18, 2019
Lovely, Kobe. Your 4th finger is developing very well. If you want to super charge your intonation practice, use drones frequently. Also you're at the level where my practice course would serve you well. I have entire sections devoted to subjects like fine tuning, bow arm practice, string crossings etc...

Kobe Tsang
Posted: August 18, 2019
This discussion includes members-only video content

Thanks everyone, I'm beginning to understand the idea of hearing the tone in my head now. It had completely changed my mindset about intonation. I use to think if I can get it down to muscle memory and learn the relative distance of the finger placement by heart I'll be ok but I'm beginning to understand its all relative. I've tried singing the notes but my voice is horrible and I cant stand it. I guess I'll just do it in my head :p

Thanks Beth for the new exercise, I've been practicing it for hours today and the third finger seems more confident. Now its just the pinky that seems to vary alot still. I've learnt this tune Lavender Blue off Youtube while I was researching about intonation. This is the first tune I've learnt since taking off the tape. I'm beginning to attempt to "fix" my pinky when I hear something wrong. Overall I think I'm glad I've taken the tape off as it forces me to listen to the note instead of relying on the visual.


Beth Blackerby
Posted: August 18, 2019
HI Kobe, I have an exercise for you and everyone. You mentioned that you were feeling insecure about your 3rd finger. The instructions for this exercise is to take your hand away from the fingerboard during the open Ds, then quickly reassume your left hand position and play all the 3rd fingers. The goal of course is to improve consistency, striving for secure, in tune 3rd finger placements. I found this music recently and coincidentally created this exercise today!

When you feel improvement, try and do it without glancing at all at your hand or fingerboard!


Sonia Lancaster
Posted: August 17, 2019
Hi Kobe,
I asked a similar question of my violin teacher the other week. Iím playing the Beethoven Romance in F https://violinsheetmusic.org/files/download/classical/beethoven-romance-2-violin.pdf and there are a couple of places where the high notes are in the middle of nowhere. Sometimes itís a matter of just checking the finger is in the right place by gently plucking the note and checking with an open string if possible, I saw Christian Li, winner of 2018 Yehudi Menuin competition do this. So if top players can do it, itís certainly ok for me! Or use the bow to bow a double stop (2 notes at once) and check how they blend to see if they are right. Other times mechanics can help us get where we need to be. In the above piece in bar 24 the A to the high G, I actually play the A in 4th position on the D string. This makes the shift to the G a much shorter distance and less prone to error. Further on in bar 28, the low G to the F, I use mechanics and set this up bar 27, finishing the D in 2nd position using 2nd finger, I think move up 2 positions with 1st finger now on E on the A string (4th position), move it over to E string playing B, stretch the 3rd to the D and stretch to the high F. My fingers are now all in place for the start of the demisemiquaver run down.
Now I know this is above your playing level at the moment (though the way youíre progressing youíll be there in a couple of years 😏) But it shows there are different ways to do things.
I have realised I play very much by listening. If it doesnít sound right then I adjust. Sometimes if a piece is a bit discordant Iíll play it down an octave if itís high, or even on a piano etc, or sing it as others have said. Iíve heard it said that professional players donít always hit the note in tune, theyíre just super fast at adjusting it, so the impression is of it being in tune straight away.

Sorry for the long reply, got carried away!

Sonia

Dianne
Posted: August 17, 2019
I've seen three videos in the past week (one was Itzhak Perlman) of players singing the first note of their piece or excerpt they are about to show us even as they are finishing a sentence while talking to us in the video....aaaaaaaaaaaa. Something like that. I've never noticed this before.

Ted Adachi
Posted: August 17, 2019
Hi Kobe,
I used to feel that if I could just find the B on the A string, all my problems would be solved!

Here is a video that was really enlightening for me about intonation. Essentially, he says we need to listen as we play. It seems obvious, but our minds are so occupied with so many technical things (bow hold, violin hold, straight bow, lifting fingers, not lifting fingers, elbow flex and on and on and onÖ) that we forget to actually listen when we play. But if you can sing it, you can play it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJO_00_ixr4

Kobe Tsang
Posted: August 17, 2019
Thank you everyone for your insights, experience and encouragements. I think my weakness is that Im not very patient and always wanted to move at a faster pace. But I certainly recognise the importance of taking it slow and establish a strong foundation. 

My friend gave me a short lesson today and encouraged me to take off my third finger sticker. I feel so insecure right now without having that only point of reference. He told me to just go by feel and listen harder to see if its right instead of relying on the visual. I really hope his advice is not going to destroy me. 

I think I'll stay on scales and basic Eludes for the coming week before moving on. I've lost all sense of where the pinky goes now. Its the only finger that is massively out of tune at the moment. I think the biggest stumbling block at the moment for me is that the notes seems to be in tune until I hit an open string. Upon checking with intonia it seems like I play every note sharp by the same amount so its only noticeable when I hit an open string. Is there a way to attack that to ensure my first note is right if its not a note on the open string?  

Sonia Lancaster
Posted: August 16, 2019
Hi Kobe,
I donít think there are hard and fast rules for how long things should take. Yes, take long enough for the basics, but every piece you will be using the basics anyway. I would think for someone who is new to music playing (and I know this isnít you) it would perhaps be difficult to spot errors or areas for improvement until your ear develops. I know in my own playing Iíve become much more picky about intonation, rhythm, dynamics etc that I couldnít  have hoped to have noticed when I was just starting out. It always good to think about these things even when doing more difficult pieces because they are the foundation of our playing. Recording is a great thing. To listen back, because often we think weíre doing this or that, but the recording reveals the truth.

At the end of the day, if youíre happy then thatís what counts. We do this for pleasure.

Sonia

Dianne
Posted: August 16, 2019
Hi, I think you are playing well according to the rubric for advancement and should move along until you hit a piece that presents challenges for you. Each of these pieces gets harder and harder and you may find that at one point you hit  a wall (or maybe not!). Your intonation looked good to me in a piece earlier on when I used the Intonia to check. Did you set the key for the piece and make sure tuning wasn't checked at the bottom of the screen? But yes, intonation is something always to be worked on and monitored for sure as you move along.

I just want to say that I played literally hundreds of pieces so far, mostly pop songs, and they did not teach me technique even though some were challenging, but the Suzuki pieces are great because they bring you along step by step incrementally and yes, book 4 is hard but when I can play all these I know I will be a much better violinist than I was before so I keep at it, and it is getting better! We can do this! Nice playing!

Beth Blackerby
Posted: August 16, 2019
Kobe, I'm glad you're taking the time to be careful and learn things well, concentrating on basic technique and intonation. I certainly sprinkle that sentiment all through the website. However, as far as learning schedules, that will vary IMMENSELY from person to person. So many factors play into how long it takes someone to learn a piece: prior musical experience, music reading level, innate physical coordination, amount of time spent practicing, quality of practice, and then age to a degree. I would say given these parameters, you are on a fast track. 

Lesley
Posted: August 16, 2019
Kobe, I haven't chimed in before but I've watched your progress and you're doing amazingly well!

Your friend is right about spending lots of time on the basics. Just this morning my teacher, who is a professional musician, told me that he regularly (as in, nearly every day) goes back to basic bowing and scale exercises to work out trouble spots with whatever piece he's doing. And I've heard other violinists say that those who don't do their scales all the time lose their intonation. So it's really a lifelong thing! But you're doing great on all fronts. Don't be in a rush: violin is a very picky, demanding instrument and you'll be surprised, as you progress, just how much the "basics" come into play every single day. :)

Ted Adachi
Posted: August 16, 2019
Hi Kobe,
Here is my experience after three years of trying to learn this instrument.

I think adult learners need to find a balance between fun, seil-fulfillment and actually learning how to play. It is a lot of fun and very rewarding to learn a new piece. When I first started I ripped through the Suzuki books and felt I was going 'at a good pace'.

After about a year, I was working on the Book 2 Gavotte and I thought it sounded pretty poor. In fact, I realized, everything I was playing up until that point sounded pretty poor. So I went back and started at Perpetual Motion in book 1. Rather than 'move forward' I worked on trying to make what I already knew sound better.

Now, sometimes I play a piece for months before taking on something new (and I still play Minuet 1 every day and it still isn't right!). If I had done that at the start, I may have gotten too frustrated and bored to continue but now I find a lot of pleasure of going over and over and over again the same passages, getting them closer and closer to right.

So your friend is probably right in the long run but for now, do what you need to do to keep interested and to keep practicing fun and something to look forward to.

You are much better than I was at this early stage so you should advance faster than me. Keep on practicing.

Kobe Tsang
Posted: August 16, 2019
This discussion includes members-only video content

Thanks Frieda!

So its been awhile since my last post, thats because I've shown my videos to a friend who had been playing for years. He told me to stop rushing through the pieces but instead focus on the basics and get the intonation more consistent before moving on. He also mentioned that with the suzuki book I'm suppose to spend a month on each song and typically it takes a year to finish a book. Is that right Beth? 

So I've went back to basics once again and spent the whole week on just scales and some simple Eludes that he taught me to consolidate the first finger pattern. Its hard to judge if my intonation had gotten better overtime as intonia still shows red and blue at random places. In general, is it true that I should spend a month on basics before moving on to minuet 2? 


Frieda
Posted: August 11, 2019
Wauw Kobe! And that after a few weeks?!?!
Fantastic!

Kobe Tsang
Posted: August 11, 2019
This discussion includes members-only video content

So I've been really concentrating on intonation for the past week. The new thumb position is definitely better I feel like it improved my tone or maybe its just all in my head. I feel like progress is alot slower now comparing to the past few weeks. Went back to Elude and managed to do the double time part at 75% speed. 

Ray
Posted: August 9, 2019
That is what I am working on.  As I work on Minuet No.1 I start out alright but then I get hung up on focussing on some other aspect of learning the piece.  Then I remind myself the heavy light light.  HAHAHA

Beth Blackerby
Posted: August 9, 2019
Exactly, Ray, Dianne and Alan. I love how Alan's experience as a professional dance instructor brings the history of the Minuet to the discussion. Yes! The down bow corresponds to the "demi-plie". In music these down beats particularly in ĺ time establish our perception of meter. Otherwise we might not detect triple meter right away. So those nice heavier down bows clench the deal.

Alan Barnicoat
Posted: August 7, 2019
Well, I'm going to go out on a limb and mention that the 3/4 time signature suggests that the footwork in a Minuet may have been performed something like the steps in a Waltz. And as formal dance developed into Ballet, the first step of a Waltz is be performed - starting with a small demi-plie on the right foot and then alternating half-pointe (tip toe) with both left foot and right foot (down up up, down up up.) Then, repeat but start on the left foot. It ends up looking something like a limp on the down beat(down bow)  and then two successive  tip-toes with the up bow(hooked bow).  The music, bow articulations, and dance steps all complement each other.

As for the retake, since the dotted half note in measure 8 is on the down bow and very likely ending at the tip, there isn't much room left at the tip for another down bow unless it is done as a retake.

Ray
Posted: August 7, 2019
Hi Beth,

At the risk of being wrong, I would like to take a stab at why we have hooked bowings in m.1.  The note values are equal length so in order to achieve the heavier first beat you need to use, at least a little, more bow when compared to the second and third beats.  And because you are using less bow and less pressure you achieve the heavy light light needed for the dancers.  

As for the retake at m.9 I am stumped. 

Dianne
Posted: August 7, 2019
Hanging Left Elbow Beneath Instrument
Hi Kobe, if you look at your left arm in the still shot of the video, you can see your elbow is swung to your left as you play on the A string. Your elbow should be dropping straight down on the A string, and even the E string, and then allowed to pivot slightly to your right for the D and G strings. Because your elbow is slightly to your left, you are having to reach for the lower strings and you don't get that nice easy swing of the elbow. It will be so much easier if you drop your elbow directly beneath the instrument for A string, and then the movement to the lower strings will be a small swing. Glad you posted this camera angle so we could see your elbow position. Great playing BTW.

Beth can I venture a guess that bow retakes setup bow direction, and hooked bowings allow rearticulation of a note, but also set up bow direction for the following note?

Beth Blackerby
Posted: August 7, 2019
Bravo Kobe!! Those bowings are there to create natural phrasing. Here are a few questions for everyone:

Why do you think there are hooked bowings in the first place? And why do you think there's a retake in measure 9?

Kobe Tsang
Posted: August 7, 2019
This discussion includes members-only video content

Spent another 3 hours correcting my bowing! It is definitely easier to get things right the first time then to correct it later indeed. The new thumb position is feeling more natural each day and I think this new thumb position has helped with my intonation. In my mind I thought I was swinging my elbow quiet abit as I move across the strings but the video shows bearly any movement ! Does that mean I'm not moving enough as I change strings? Or am I gripping? I dont feel like I was gripping though .....

Kobe Tsang
Posted: August 6, 2019
Hi Beth, thanks for the reminder for the bowing, I've completely forgotten about it after the first day. So the hooked bow happens in the 1st and 3 measure, does the retake happen on the 9th measure after the repeat? 

Hi Kristan, I dont really have a set practice routine, but on most days I just start with Beth's bow hold exercises follow by scales and then practice the pieces slowly and then speed it up. I must admit the shoulder and back do feel some discomfort after the long sessions but I think its more just tiredness (I hope!) 

Beth Blackerby
Posted: August 6, 2019
Excellent job, Kobe! I want to point out the bow markings in the part. Are you using the Suzuki book? Since you're going at lightening speed I don't want you to skip any technique. In the part you'll see hooked bow strokes and retakes. It would be super if you learn all the bowings in the part, because they are preparing you for advanced bow techniques later. The hooks and retakes are such a big deal in violin music.

Urban Kristan
Posted: August 6, 2019
2-3 hours! Impressive discipline and it shows! What does your practice session look like in terms of what you practice and for how long? 

Also, and I'm sure you know this, I just want to emphasise to be careful that you don't injure yourself. I don't think 2-3 hours is a dangerous amount at all, but you do have to be careful about any pain. 

Kobe Tsang
Posted: August 6, 2019
This discussion includes members-only video content

Thank you Dianne and Kate for your encouragement! I realised today that I'm getting a bruise looking mark where my shoulder rest sits, managed to squeeze in 2-3 hours of practice every day after work for the past week.

The new position is starting to settle in, the pinky at the moment has the worse intonation follow by all the notes on the E string. I'm very conscience of not scrunching up the fingers but its just so tight to fit the F# and G together. 

Anyway here is my attempt on Minuet ! Will try to add the dynamics in the coming week. 

Kate
Posted: August 6, 2019

Hi Kobe and a belated welcome, your progress is amazing!. I am having to make big changes on a regular basis. I've been working on my set up and left hand for weeks Ė getting much better but still needs more work (and just as I think one thing is improving something else gets worse!). Speeding up, working on new pieces, introducing new finger positions etc all cause me to have to concentrate even harder to make sure I keep focused and don't slip backwards. You seem to pick things up very, very quickly so you may find it easier to correct things. For me progress is painfully slow but I have begun to accept that it is time well spent even if it is (very) frustrating at times because there is improvement if you persevere.



Dianne
Posted: August 5, 2019
Kobe this is perfectly normal and in fact I went through the same thing with vibrato rehab. I also constantly guard against a pronated left hand when reaching for a 4th finger (easier to reach without pronating, too!). I use the reflection from my IMac to see what's going on. It is easier to start out right, but it is possible to change things over time with constant monitoring. Since you have not been playing for that long, it probably will correct itself quickly.

Kobe Tsang
Posted: August 5, 2019
So after some extensive reading and loads of youtube videos, I've decided to relearn my left hand position. This is a big change for me as I've been putting the thumb underneath the neck but now I'm putting the thumb on the side. It seems to give me more consistent intonation and I feel like the elbow pivots more effortlessly when switching strings. However, my mind keep drifting back to the old position especially when I play at a faster pace. Does anyone have similar experience in making a big change mid way?

Kobe Tsang
Posted: August 2, 2019
Thanks Sonia ! I'll move on to my first minuet and come back to the double time variation later 

Sonia Lancaster
Posted: August 1, 2019
Haha Kobe, I was listening to this thinking it was your recording from the other day and wondering why I couldnít hear the issues! Thatís cos youíve fixed them! Yes, certainly the way to go is to play it perfectly slow. As they say if you canít play it slow, then you wonít be able to play it fast. Time to move on to the next piece I think. Great job again.

Kobe Tsang
Posted: August 1, 2019
This discussion includes members-only video content

Oh man...spent 4 hours recording this song and still couldn't get it perfect. Its so difficult to coordinate everything and not make a mistake. I can get it right when its slow or if the backing is not on but Im so nervous when the backing track is on. Cant even imagine how I could play at double time with variation B!

Nicolinette
Posted: July 31, 2019
Thank you Sonia, see also this video of Ros Stephen
https://youtu.be/3rUrwE6i1v0
(Pause) 3:41

I was thinking lately that a little child learning the violin may have more ease of doing these "robot" practices, because it will just see a fun game to do ... and will not see the time pass :)

Sonia Lancaster
Posted: July 31, 2019
Hi Nicolette,

This is the link https://youtu.be/cP9cI0AC6wA talks about how the fingers are placed at different times depending on the bowing used. Iíd never thought about that before.

Kobe Tsang
Posted: July 31, 2019
Thanks Sonia, I didnt actually realise I could slow down the playback until now ! That is so useful! I will try to practice with that in mind and see if it would come out cleaner. 

Hi Nicolinette, I havent practiced finger placement and bowing separately before. I do start slow really slow and work my speed up with a metronome though. 

Hi Dianne, I havent tried variation B yet because I've been concentrating more on memorising the piece but I'll give that a go tonight and see if it helps. The fingers are feeling stronger and snappier now than a few weeks ago which is a good thing :) 

Nicolinette
Posted: July 30, 2019
coordination
Hi Sonia, what is this link that talks about coordination that you mentioned last?


Dianne
Posted: July 30, 2019
Hi Kobe, that reach from 1st finger on A string to 3rd finger on D string might feel like a long one, and it might help to use the variation B double note pattern on the whole piece a few times to get the coordination for the finger lifts. That is what worked for me. Just a guess. Great intonation on this, and very fast clean playing.

Sonia Lancaster
Posted: July 30, 2019
Yes finger placement coordination with bowing is not as simple as it sounds because it depends on what bowing you are doing! I posted a link about this the other day, itís an interesting watch.


Sonia

Nicolinette
Posted: July 30, 2019
Kobe, do you practice, very slowly, the placement of the finger BEFORE the placement of the bow?
I'm working on it right now and my game has become pretty "clean" soon enough... ... yes I know it's a monk job ;) 

Sonia Lancaster
Posted: July 30, 2019
Hi Kobe,
Youíre making great progress. Do you realise you can slow down the playbacks and itís easier to hear whatís going on. I hear a couple of things. The first few string crossings arenít quite clean as youíre still pulling the down bow when you are crossing from A to D  String so I can hear an extra D still on the down bow and again when you change to up bow. I think I can also here a slight touch of the D string as well.

To fix the first make sure you can coordinate perfectly at slow speeds before speeding up. For the second, bow open strings to see where your bow is, again slowly until you donít get that extra sound.

Well done again

Kobe Tsang
Posted: July 30, 2019
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Thanks Beth and Sonia, I've tried to prevent the thumb from moving too much and relax my bow grip more. Still find the new finger pattern rather challenging, in fact when I played the previous songs I'm getting mixed up between the two finger patterns....

Etude is a very difficult piece, I've spent the last 4 days just memorising it bar by bar and slowly speed it up. I'm hearing a ping on the D strings sometimes when move to the A string, is my bow touching it during the string crossing or am I releasing the strings too hard effectively pulling it off making a sound? Managing the string crossing, new finger pattern and one note on each beat is driving me crazy!!

Beth Blackerby
Posted: July 28, 2019
Nice work, Kobe. I think you're low 2nd fingers are doing extremely well. As for the thumb, it does move, but to the extent that it is wiggling and pivoting inside the skin as well as moving further under the neck for low strings. But it shouldn't change it's primary contact point because then you'll be shifting outside of the position. We need that consistent thumb placement to help with intonation. However, if you were to be playing in a keys like Ab or Db, we would move the thumb back because we'd be playing lots of flat notes. 


So when I say it pivots or moves around inside the skin, it does exactly that. For instance when reaching for the 4th finger it pivots around to the inside edge more because we're rotating the arm so much. Try that on the G string and you'll feel it in a more exaggerated way.




Sonia Lancaster
Posted: July 27, 2019
Hi Kobe,
Re the moving of your left thumb. I think itís good to have a mobile thumb as long as the position doesnít hinder your playing eg you moving it back so it makes placement of the fingers more difficult. A mobile thumb shows you donít have tension in the hand.

I did notice that the last section of your right pinkie is tending to curl backwards, ie hyperextend, this may cause tension in your bow hand.

You definitely have very good rhythm and intonation. I look forward to seeing you progress over the coming months and Iím sure with how you set up your practice you will move pretty quickly.

Enjoy.

Sonia

Nicolinette
Posted: July 27, 2019
Thank you Kobe for your answers to my questions. :)

Kobe Tsang
Posted: July 27, 2019
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Started practicing the new finger spacing pattern, it was very challenging at first because the ring finger and the middle finger doesnt really want to separate but its getting better. I've been practicing the one octave C major scale and the 2 octave G major scale to help remember the feel of the new finger spacing. Is it ok if my thumb positioning changes depending on what string I'm on? Would that hinder my intonation because the reference point keeps changing? 

Moon over ruined castle sounds so sad, practiced it so much that I think I might cry in my sleep picturing the scene tonight.

Kobe Tsang
Posted: July 25, 2019
Thanks Beth, I'll move onto the next finger spacing pattern now 

Hi Nicolinette, I've been following Beth's syllabus quiet closely. For my practice sessions, I start with the warm ups with the bow hand and then do 1 octave scales of A and D with intonia and then I practice all the suzuki pieces from the beginning with long bow strokes, short bow strokes or random bow strokes to see what it sounds like. After that I would focus on a goal, such as getting the pinky to play more in tune or keeping the bow straight or play a song to the backing track. I kind of memorised every piece just by repeating them every day. Strongly recommend that you should post videos of your playing, I've learnt an amazing amount from everyone's feedback. 

Nicolinette
Posted: July 25, 2019
Congratulations Kobe for your progress  :)

So far, Is your violin learning only about suzuki volume 1?
   In your practice, do you also look at other partitions of studies or scales?
and do you memorize every piece of Suzuki music?

I'm asking you these questions, because it's been a year and a half since I started studying violin, and maybe I've been too "deconcentrated" to try different things, with the result of lack of concentration ?

Beth Blackerby
Posted: July 25, 2019
Kobe, it's totally ok for the 4th finger to be straighter. If it's bent, then yes, absolutely it will pull the hand up. If the very last knuckle is bent, and the middle knuckle is straight, it will be strong enough. That's what mine does. In higher positions, you'll naturally be able to have more bend. 

Kobe Tsang
Posted: July 25, 2019
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Spent the last two days doing pinky exercises with intonia, finally got rid of the old habit of crossing strings and forced myself to use the pinky instead. Its starting to feel more natural and I think overall intonation has gotten better (still alot of red and blue on Intonia though).

Kobe Tsang
Posted: July 24, 2019
Thanks Beth and Dianne, its nice to watch the wrist moving more freely. The daily exercises really help. And I'll keep working the fourth finger, I think it pulls the hand sharp if I force it to bend while hitting the note, otherwise if I leave it flat it seems more in tune. Moving the left elbow did help too but I need to remember to do that as its not second nature yet. 

I've been playing the guitar for a few years but nothing serious just strumming the same chords with the same strum pattern all the time. My parents forced me to play piano when I was small but I gave up after a month because I didnt want to practice. Always regretted that since its so much harder to find time now. So violin is kinda my first serious instrument, mainly got inspired by TwoSetViolin channel on youtube. Really hope I could play in an orchestra some days but that feels like a very long term goal.... 

Beth Blackerby
Posted: July 23, 2019
Bravo, Kobe! I think your 4th finger is doing great! It will always feel weaker and "less than" the other fingers. I didn't see that it was pulling your hand sharp. Did you notice that when you did Perpetual Motion doubles, that not using the 4th finger made the string crossings even more disruptive to the sound?

Your bow arm looked better and particularly free in Andantino. Your progress is quite stunning. I have to ask. Are you an accomplished musician on another instrument?

Dianne
Posted: July 23, 2019
Kobe just really nice playing here. In your latest video I see much better isolation away from the shoulder. For the G string, it might help to experiment with more bow pressure to see what that particular string requires for the best tone. For the 4th finger, you can allow the left elbow to move a little as you change strings and help orientate the 4th finger in place rather than reach with the 4th finger. See if that helps. And daily finger taps for strengthening - it will eventually happen but will always need to be worked almost daily to keep the 4th finger strong.

Kobe Tsang
Posted: July 23, 2019
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Finally able to play andantino with the backing track

Kobe Tsang
Posted: July 23, 2019
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Hi Beth,

So I've spent the last two days working on the 4th finger, the problem is that my pinky is really weak so when I reach over to play with it, it shifts all my other fingers forward making them sharp. I've been just playing scales including the pinky with intonia and its finally getting somewhere but its hard to resist the bowing hand not to wonder into the high string instead. 

I've also been practicing fast detache with the shaker, I think the bow is alot straighter now when played fast.

Beth Blackerby
Posted: July 21, 2019
Congratulations, Kobe! You're going strong as ever! I just want to encourage you to force the use of your 4th finger more. I'd hate to see some things be left behind in terms of your technique. In Perpetual Motion for instance, use 4th finger on that 1st E that you come to. That's an important use of 4th finger: when crossing over to the E disrupts a long succession of notes on the A string.

Also, I want you to watch these videos: #121, #123. This has to do with what Dianne was referring to when she noticed you were moving the bow from the shoulder. These will help you develop the right bow arm mechanics for faster detachť strokes like the ones in Perpetual Motion.



Kobe Tsang
Posted: July 21, 2019
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I love doing slurs ! 
Played around with Andantino trying to slur as many notes as possible before I run out of bow. 

Kobe Tsang
Posted: July 21, 2019
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The level of difficulty escalated quickly in beginner course 2....
The A string and the low G string sounds very wooly (if that makes sense...) itís as if I need to give it a faster bow stroke and more hair closer to the bridge to get a clear loud sound out of the lower strings. Itís very difficult to play Allegretto with accents. Does anyone have any tips or hints on doing accented strokes on lower strings?

Kobe Tsang
Posted: July 20, 2019
Hi Barbara, thank you for your kind words. Itís a lot of fun playing faster pieces and it feels so heart pumping to see the fingers move fast!

Hi Dianne, I think I understand what you mean now after YouTubing a few videos on bow speed. Itís really hard to keep everything consistent but it does look nicer.

Dianne
Posted: July 19, 2019
Hi Kobe, after looking at your video again, and really listening, I think you are doing fine because your sound is consistent at the changes at the tip. You appear to be doing two different kinds of bow speed changes at the tip, 1. going into the change slowly and coming out of the change slowly and 2. speeding up into the change and speeding out of the change at the same rate. Sometimes the speeding up at the tip can be caused by complexities going on in the left hand (or gravity) and are unintentional and cause a swell in the sound. That is what happens with me. But for you, I think your are doing fine because I don't hear any unintentional swells in the sound. I just didn't expect to see two varied bow changes at the tip like this! Carry on!

Barbara Habel
Posted: July 19, 2019
Dear Kobe

You have very nice coordination between left and right hands.

This is not an easy piece to play and you are doing very well. Especially for playing the violin for such a short time as you have.

Congratulations.

Kobe Tsang
Posted: July 19, 2019
This discussion includes members-only video content

Hi Dianne, I'm alittle lost on what you mean by having the bow speed the same at the tip. Before you change direction, wouldnt you have to slow down? I've tried to keep the same speed but it squeaks as if I'm yanking it too much. 

I ended up spending hours on perpetual motion determined to play at the speed of the recording. Finally got one thats close enough, still stuffed up the ending abit due to mental stress. Just knowing you are almost there was enough to throw me off..... I'm very aware of my shoulder now in relaxing it.  

Dianne
Posted: July 18, 2019
Hi Kobe, this is really, really well done. I had no idea you could do the full bows like that. You are doing my daily full bow exercise that I do on every string! What you could look at now with that if you wanted was bow speed changes at the tip- try to come out of the bow change at the tip at the same speed as you started the bow change, and make the change at the same bow speed used throughout the entire bow. Gravity can make the hand drop and sometimes whip the tip bow change. I am working on this very thing for myself when Beth pointed it out for me.

Kobe Tsang
Posted: July 18, 2019
This discussion includes members-only video content

So I went back to basics today and just tried to do long full bow strokes while keeping the bow as perpendicular as possible. I've been trying to remind myself to relax the shoulder as well. 

Dianne
Posted: July 17, 2019
You open and close from the elbow for the dťtachť bow stroke, with a fluid wrist and eventually fingers. It may be that your wrist needs to learn to flex passively just a little, to work with the elbow opening and closing. That way it becomes an isolated movement from the shoulder. You have nice coordination between the left and right hands in this by the way- this is not an easy etude.

Kobe Tsang
Posted: July 17, 2019
Now that youíve mentioned it, I can feel my shoulder tensing up a fair bit. In fact my shoulder is sore today from all the playing yesterday. So when I do the accent at the beginning of the bow stroke, does the pressure come from only the wrist of the bow hand?

Dianne
Posted: July 17, 2019
Kobe I meant a video on frog to tip bowing as a separate exercise from these pieces, because yes context matters, so that it will be there for you when you need it.

One thing to watch out for as you play faster note values, is to guard against bowing from the shoulder. I think I see just a little bit of that in the last two videos. It is perfectly normal to have that happen in the beginning, and it takes a lot of focused practice to disengage the shoulder on faster notes. If you keep mindful of this you may even be able to feel it when it is happening, as a tightening or stiffening of the arm, or else mark the faster notes sections, and just play those as an exercise, and watch your recording to gauge your progress in this area.

Kobe Tsang
Posted: July 17, 2019
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I have a feeling that this balancing act will take years to become natural at, Ive watched Beth's lesson on speed vs pressure vs placement vs amount of hair but while I understand it in my head I cant seem to control all those things while playing. I've tried to accent the beginning of Allegro by using more pressure but maybe I could try to go closer to the bridge as well for the effect.

Absolutely loved this song Perpetual Motion ! Cant do the double time variation yet. But I'm starting to feel like an actual violinist ! And I'm graduating from beginner course 1 ! Starting beginner course 2 ! yay ! (Will come back to double time variation later :p)

Elke Meier
Posted: July 17, 2019
Kobe, you don't use whole bows for short notes. The amount of bow has to match the notes. If you make the bow speed to fast just to be able to use a whole bow then you loose tone. It is a balancing act :)

For this piece I would use shorter notes in the beginning. The beginning and the end are bouncy parts, in the middle you have the flowing melody. That comes out better if you have more accentuated staccato in the beginning and the end.

Kobe Tsang
Posted: July 17, 2019
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Its so hard to use the whole bow with the speed of the backing track. I can do whole bow if its only half the tempo. Really enjoyed Allegro, this song is very nice to play, I like that bouncy feel to it.

Dianne
Posted: July 16, 2019
Moving right along! Enjoying watching your journey.

If you wanted to, you could post an update of frog to tip bowing to see if the bow arm mechanics are coming along. This is very hard to do, especially the transition at the frog, but I do notice Beth talking about the long bowing in the tutorial Whole Bow Strokes in the level for this piece. But again, at two weeks of playing you are doing SUPER.

Kobe Tsang
Posted: July 16, 2019
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All the pre-practice workout and warm up exercises are slowly adding up to almost 30minutes ! Hope the list doesnt get any longer other the warm up would be half the practice session! 

Today I've got the hang of the slur, it looks so cool to change notes while not changing bow direction. I really like this song, perhaps my favourite song so far in the course. Its very hard to control the volume change though. I understand playing closer to the bridge with more hair is louder and playing towards the fingerboard at an angle is softer but in the moment of playing I just cant think of it. Hope it will come in time. 

Dianne
Posted: July 15, 2019
Good job with the dotted rhythms. I like how you are using the amount of bow that you feel you can control well at this point- not too little and later you can work on using more bow. I also see some finger flexion in the bow hand index finger. Nice! Straight bowing, good sounding point, almost everything exactly in tune. Yes, working on 4th finger strengthening everyday for ever. I think finger taps would work well at this point since you are not yet playing etudes.

Kobe Tsang
Posted: July 15, 2019
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May song is soooo difficult !! 
Its either my pinky making the E too flat or it pulls my index finger forward making my B too sharp !!
On top of that, the staccato bowing in the first part is very difficult to control with the pinky. 
This is so far the most difficult song I think.

Kobe Tsang
Posted: July 14, 2019
Yes, I've been following the syllabus, up to the purple videos now on beginner course 1. Did kinda skip over May Song because the pinky is embarrassingly weak and couldnt do the high E on the A string. Guess I'll come back to it today. 

The stickers really helped with the intonation, I wonder when I could go without them but I'll keep them on maybe for a few months. I played guitar for several years but never got as serious as I am now with violin. Having no frets really made it so much harder. 

Dianne
Posted: July 14, 2019
Very nice sound. I think your bow hold is looking even better than before with the fingers closer together, and the sound you are getting reflects a relaxed bow hand. What I also like is that you do not lift your bow after every phrase but keep it on the string for a connected piece. You make this piece sound very musical. It's lovely with that piano accompaniment.

I agree @ posting videos. I post videos for the same reason- it gives me goals so Beth & my peers can give me feedback and I have a goal to reach.

Michael Baumgardner
Posted: July 14, 2019
Wow Kobe.  This is certainly very good for someone at 3 weeks in.  What I find most impressive is your intonation at this stage.  Sounded like about 90% of these notes were spot on.  Not sure if you mentioned this in earlier posts, but have you played other instruments?  At three weeks in, my intonation was about +/- one semitone if I was lucky. :). Nice work.

Elke Meier
Posted: July 14, 2019
Do you follow the syllabus, Kobe? You are progressing very fast and very beautifully. However, make sure that you do not concentrate only on learning the pieces. This will backfire very quickly. When you follow the syllabus you can make sure that you do not miss important technical information that should feed into this certain step of your violin journey. 

Kobe Tsang
Posted: July 14, 2019
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Beginning of week 3 of this wonderful adventure! I've learnt O Come Little Children, the bow stroke of going up twice was alittle tricky and took awhile but its a beautiful song. My wrist is starting to feel natural.