Scottish Air

I wrote this a few years ago, one of a set of six 🙂

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Improve your Violin Playing Fast

me violin

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Did you ever feel there is never enough time to get all the practice done that you want to do? Here are the most important things you should be doing.
First of all:
Write down your weakest points.You must be really honest here! And be as detailed as you can.
For instance, if you think your bowing arm is weak, or a certain stroke, then write this down, and if you can, what you think is wrong with it.
Does your vibrato need work? Is it wobbly and weak? Write that down.

Continue until you have written down all of your most important weaknesses.

Next, decide how much time you have, really, to practice each day.

Write down everything you wish to practice. This will include your weakest points from above!

Now for the most important things you should be practicing each day:

1) Scales. Yes, everyone hates scales, but that is because mostpeople practice them the wrong way. Scales are a brilliant way to totally control every aspect of your playing. They are not just empty repetitions – they are musical ladders, leading to the heights of control.

Practice your scales very slowly! Really slowly! And play them as if they were (which the are) units of music. Scales are found in every type of music – play them as music! Practice in as many octaves as you feel comfortable to play – ie, start with one, then move on to two, then three etc.

Play your scales with long , slow bows, one note to a bow, then, at the most 4 notes to a bow.
Listen to your sound, and take note where things “go wrong”.

Listen to your intonation. Hear the notes before putting your fingers down. As you are playing really slowly this will be possible. “Aim” your fingers to match the sound in your head – and if the note is out of tune, take off your finger, “hear” the note again, and try again until you get it right.

Sing everything you play!  And if you can’t, for any reason, sing out loud, then sing internally – but sing you must!
Playing the violin is just using that instrument to express the music you have inside. You have to get that music onto the violin. If you cannot hear your own music how can you expect to transfer it to the violin?
Divide up your practice time into short segments covering all your weaknesses. Even if you then only have five minutes per weakness, practicing 5 minutes every day, slowly, will improve your playing much faster than doing one hour of work where you are not listening, singing and correcting everything you play.
Try to get through all your weak points once per day, and if you cannot, then start the next day where you left off.
Listen, concentrate, and never, ever, just play without directing your every move. In time these moves will become more and more automatic and your playing will improve greatly.
Leave at least 10 minutes at the end of every practice session for just playing. In this last session, after all the work is done, you get 10 minutes to “play”. In this session you don’t worry about anything other than expressing yourself. Try if you can to play with a backing
track – there are many, many of those, midi and audio, for free on the internet.

Play along in time to the track and have a good time. And in time your hard work will bear fruit. Intonation will improve as will co-ordination and sound.
Then you will be playing the violin!

1) Long slow bows.
2) Keep the bow parallel to the bridge.
3) Make as even a sound as you possibly can, with the same speed of bow from frog to tip to frog.
4) “Hear” the bow change. Don’t try to change the bow, let it happen because your ears demand it.
5) Be aware of any tension and relax it. In time this will become automatic.
6) Enjoy you playing. Violin playing is a pleasure, not a chore.
Have fun!