Saturday, March 29, 2014
Update on the Violin Playing
I have been going to update you on the children's garden at the Club but here I am doing a totally random post just because I just finished practicing and was thinking about it.
As some of you who have held on and kept reading even though my posts have been sporadic for several months now, I played violin for a year as a child and always wanted to get back to it but never did until this last year. I bought one of those really cheap ones on eBay. It was okay to start with. It let me know that I really did want to learn to play. I bought lots of "Learn to play violin yourself" books. And I learned a good bit but there was a lot that was left out of these books. They tend to cram a lot into a little book and you miss a lot. I did learn that I needed a better violin though.
So I bought a Cecilio 300. Still a cheap violin but at least it had an ebony fingerboard instead of plastic. It sounded better too.
This January I saw an add in the paper for violin lessons and luckily the lady giving them is in the next town over. I set it up with her so I come once a week on Fridays for a half hour (it always ends up being an hour) for $20 a lesson.
My violin teacher is a very nice 74 year old lady. You would never know she is 74 to look at her. Had she not told me I would continue to think she was much younger. She has a nice old violin that needs new strings and has a crack in it, but she plays quite well. However, she is not exactly a great teacher. She has no books of her own and she has no plan on how she is going to teach you. She looked through my books and started me with what I already knew which were songs with 3 sharps and she started me out with something entirely too hard and then skipped around to easier stuff and then a few weeks ago gave me several really hard things for the week and I gave up, I did what I thought should have been assigned next and then talked about it with her the next time. She agreed to follow one of the books and do things a bit more progressively. I like her a lot but I don't think she has taught enough. She knows when you don't sound right but can't seem to tell you how to fix it. For example, for the longest time I was very shaky when I played on the E string and she didn't seem to know why but when I looked it up on youtube videos I found out right away that my bow hold was slightly wrong. Once I fixed it, I no longer shook on the E string. Anyway, this was not made to be a rant about my teacher. She definitely is still worth that $20 a week if for nothing more than the fact that I have to go play for her each week and it keeps me practicing hard every week. Plus she has explained several things that I didn't understand from my books.
Still my playing was not so great and I was a bit frustrated. I did get a new bow at Christmas and that helped the sound some and the balance of the bow was much better. The new bow was about $40. But the best improvements came a few weeks ago when I bought new strings and a new bridge for it. Even a cheap violin can sound nice if you improve it enough. I bought the best strings which are Dominant strings. They were $40 for a set and I bought a Teller fitted bridge. My teacher helped me change out the strings though I had done it before and I put the bridge on a few days later when it finally came in. I really believe it was the bridge that made all the difference. The strings are incredible and improved the sound greatly but the bridge is what helped improve my playing. I believe the strings on the old bridge just weren't place well. The new bridge had little slots already cut in it so you knew where to place the strings. Pieces that I had struggled with became easy. Lots of pieces and songs. It was kind of amazing and when I went to her this week we could finally move on to the next thing (pieces with 2 sharps) because I finally could play well the ones I had already been assigned.
I'm sorry I have yet to figure out how to video myself and put it on youtube and I don't feel good enough for that yet. I wonder if I will ever feel good enough. Maybe someday :)