Violin Journal: #1

This is my first progress update since starting my violin journey. After a week or so of practice, this is where I am…

This week, I aimed to simply get used to the instrument; stringing it, tuning it, getting a feel for it, and listening to it.

I learnt the pitches of the open strings and worked on simple bowing technique to achieve a smooth, continuous sound. Correct bowing technique (not demonstrated in my video!) relies on keeping the bow perpendicular to the strings and making contact with the strings midway between the bridge and fingerboard, as shown below:

Next, I practised playing one octave major scales off of each open string. I found the key here to be listening carefully. Working out the correct interval by ear and training the fingers to make the correct positions without looking takes some patience and perseverance but I wholly recommend it. It allows the musician to better understand their instrument and make an aural connection with it.

When I was comfortable with this, I moved on to reading very simple violin music. I have the advantage of already being able to read the treble clef as a pianist, but for those with little or no experience, it would be helpful to learn the notes of the stave (particularly those of the open strings; G ,D, A, E) and begin to understand intervals in relation to the fingerboard. I found The Sight-Reading Sourcebook useful as it approaches reading music in a very gradual but thorough way. Importantly, it starts with rhythm alone, and this is where any new musician should begin.

I found that I was able to advance through the book at a decent pace. The placement of fingers came naturally due to the practice of the major scales on every open string. Rhythms were not demanding at this stage, and the bowing was largely alternating up/down for each note.

I have to admit that the sound wasn’t the most pleasant, but as I practised through the week, the intonation definitely improved and it almost started to sound like music!

Top Tip #2

Listen to your instrument and try to hear if your intonation is correct.

It is important to know how the scales that you are practising sound so that your ear is trained to recognise errors in intonation. Therefore, listen to what you are going to play (use a recording or play it on a keyboard if you have that luxury). Actively listening and having a good reference point will really help you to develop good intonation.

Next Time…

Over the next week, I will be learning my first simple violin piece and I’m very much looking forward to sharing it with you. Until then…

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