Category Archives: Violin

Violin Lesson Update

I’ve now been playing violin for two years and four months. It feels much longer. I’m on Gavotte from “Mignon” which is in the last third of book 2.

My teacher started me in Double-stops by Trott. It’s a challenge. It’s like playing two note-chords on the piano combined with the fingering of violin. I have to warm up a little and if I’m tired it becomes exponentially harder to concentrate enough to play the exercises well.

I’m about half-way in my shifting book. I’m learning a violin duet arrangement of Pachabel’s Canon in D for the Christmas recital. My teacher is also having me play violin with my youngest daughter’s violin group and guitar with my middle daughter’s guitar group.

I started fixing a bad habit today that I noticed last week. I’ve been using my index finger to support the violin neck, like I would use it as a chair for flute playing. Changing my violin hand more into the backwards “C” shape it’s supposed to be stretches my thumb. I have more flexibility and movement in my fingers, but I also have the sense that I don’t know where I am on the fingerboard because I was using my index finger as a reference. Bad habits are so hard to fix!

How long have I been playing violin?

The teacher who wrote the musical, that I conducted the pit orchestra for, asked me after one of the performances, “How long have you been playing the violin?”

I answered. “Two years.”

She looked at me funny, “I thought you had played forever?”

I shook my head. “I’m a flute teacher. I’ve played the flute forever, but I’m a violin beginner.”

She was surprised because I arranged the music for the orchestra and seemed to know what to do with the violinists.

I found that being a beginner was helpful in arranging the violin parts for the elementary students. I didn’t write parts that I couldn’t play.

It was fun that she thought I had played the violin for longer than I had played. Though if she had ever heard me play violin, she would have known I was a beginner.

Conducting an Orchestra helps my Violin Intonation

I’m getting to the part where I need to practice more, my violin progress is getting bogged down. With the musical rehearsals in February and March, I haven’t gotten much practice in. My violin teacher noticed an improvement in my intonation after I spent three days conducting the pit orchestra in rehearsals. I guess listening intently to the elementary school players and correcting wrong notes helped my pitch.

I’m getting to the point where I have a gut feeling if there are wrong notes being played, but I can’t always tell what section they are in. When I have each string section play separately then I can find the notes and fix them.

Lessons Go On

I’ve been taking lessons for fifteen months now. Slurring with a bow instead of tonging feels more natural now.

It’s easy for me to sight-read. My years of playing other instruments really helps in this area.

I’m starting to learn shifting. There’s nothing like shifting in flute playing. It’s like using a capo on guitar. I use shifting when I play piano, but on violin there are no black keys to use as guide posts while I’m sliding my left thumb around. I have to memorize the muscle movements.

In June I moved off my student 3/4 violin, to my newly repaired full-sized violin. The repaired instrument is a student violin owned by my great-grandfather. It was purchased before 1945 because it says “Made in Germany.” I don’t know what year it was manufactured. It has a richer sound then my 3/4, but all the spacing is different. I’m still having trouble placing my right hand’s fourth finger far enough down the neck. Sometimes my D’s on the G-string and my B’s on the E string are a little flat.

I enjoy playing violin, it feels so different from flute, clarinet or piano. I especially enjoy the challenge of sight-reading new music that’s at my level and seeing how quickly I can progress. I wish I had more time to practice.

Starting Suzuki Violin Lessons

I started my ten-year-old in Suzuki Violin October 2010, my five-year-old also wanted to start so she began November 2010. I was feeling left out so I started in June 2011.

I’m a Suzuki Flute teacher and active in my state Suzuki music teacher group, so I’ve observed violins in joint recitals since 1998.

It’s easier to teach an instrument then be a Suzuki parent. As a teacher I get paid to work with a student for a short time each week. As a parent I have to pay her (my now six-year-old) to focus and work with me on practicing. My eleven-year-old practices independently, but she finds it tough to stay motivated when she meets a new challenge on violin.

I love playing the violin. It’s much easier for me to memorize on violin then on flute. The finger patterns make more intuitive sense. More fingers down equals a higher note. I played on the spring recital, it was strange to feel nervous and not have to worry about having shaky air support!