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Wow, what a difference a few days make...

Posted by Sassafrassa on Wednesday, June 30, 2010

First, I would like to say thank you for the warm reception here on Fiddle Hangout.  You are all so kind to jump in with suggestions after my last blog posting.  It makes such a huge difference to have support when you start an endeavor like learning a new instrument...

I have been trying out some of the suggestions that you all have had, and it has made such a huge improvement in the way my hands feel, and with the quality of the notes that I am bowing.  Last night, I was able to work on scales without my hand cramping up, and my fingers didn't ache at the end of an evening of fingering notes.  A huge improvement over last week.  With the lighter pressure on the fingerboard, I was able to adjust my intonation on the notes easier, and while I still sound a bit scary, it was amazing the improvement that was made.  I took mudbug's advice, and tried the Hokie Pokey --shakin' all about--inbetween scales, and darn if it didn't help.  There was a thread last week about finger pressure on the strings, and the suggestion about using the lightest touch possible made a huge difference as well.

My bowing hand didn't improve as much, but my fingers didn't lock up at least.  Using the thumb as a pivot point was a revelation, and it helped me keep the tension out of my hands and wrist.  Problem is, now I don't feel like I'm using enough bow pressure.  My bow keeps wanting to skitter around on the strings, and I'm having a harder time keeping it parallel with the bridge.  I'll keep at it...I'm sure it will come in time.

I am using a shoulder rest, which I love.  I've tried it with and without, and the instrument is much "bigger" sounding with the rest, and my neck and collarbone feel much better with it, too.  I haven't found the "sweet spot" yet, so I'm constantly adjusting it.  I can't imagine playing without it, though.

I played a much improved version of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" in two different keys, and a still horrible version of "Joy to The World". I also attempted "Hush Little Baby". While my sweetie couldn't identify the last two as I played them, he recognized Twinkle easily...I played a real tune!!  My dogs no longer look as tortured, either. Can't wait to get my hands back on my fiddle...I'm thinking of naming her, but nothing has come to me yet.  I have to find her personality first--my impression so far is big and bold, so it needs to be something appropriate.  Suggestions are always welcome!


6 comments on “Wow, what a difference a few days make...”

brya31 Says:
Wednesday, June 30, 2010 @9:14:23 AM

Sara I remember when I was at your stage in the game and I took a video of myself and watched it. I was disgusted, I looked like a stiff cardboard cutout tryin to saw at a fiddle. I used that video as motivation to loosin up and relax and make sure I wasnt bowing with my whole arm, but rather more with my forearm and wrist.

Sassafrassa Says:
Wednesday, June 30, 2010 @10:19:46 AM

brya31, that's a good idea about video taping yourself. I think I have a still camera that will take short Quicktime movies..that might be good enough. (I don't have a video camera at the moment...) You are right about bowing from the shoulder, I'm definitely having that problem. Lots of tension in my shoulders by the end of a session. I'll give it a shot and see how it looks. Thanks!

I need to post some pictures of my fiddle. The pics on my page now are of the 3/4 size fiddle I bought on eBay, and while she's pretty, she can't be played, at least by me. ;)

mudbug Says:
Wednesday, June 30, 2010 @4:21:53 PM

Hey, Sass! Happy to hear your relaxing. For the bowing, try watching, in a full length mirror, while you bow long notes. Watch your arm, and how it affects bow tracking. Once again, keep yor joints fluid and loosey goosey. It helps to watch vids of really good players bowing.

KCFiddles Says:
Thursday, July 1, 2010 @6:34:18 AM

The bow skitters because you aren't bowing straight. If you bow straight, you can hold the bow by the button with two fingers and it will track fine. Mudbug's suggestion along with lots of practice, is the cure. Guide, don't steer.

You don't need much bow pressure. A little more than the weight of the bow is enough to produce good tone in the middle of the bow, and you actually have to take weight off near the frog. In general more bow speed requires more pressure. Loose wrist, need lots of flexibility.

Paradoxically, it's easier to play fast with a slow bow. On fast tunes, I only use 2 or 3 inches of bow for the 16th notes. I even marked off 3 inches on one of my practice bows, and stay between them, even when practicing fast tunes slowly - Like "Good for the Tongue" (Bad for the Fingers).

Relax, and then relax more.

Sassafrassa Says:
Thursday, July 1, 2010 @2:49:37 PM

Thanks mudbug & woodwiz. Good advice. I'll try watching myself and make sure to keep my bow parallel. Relax......



cheekee Says:
Friday, July 2, 2010 @2:14:06 PM

i have a three way mirror in my bathroom. i pulled out the two side medicine cabinet mirrors and watched myself doing long bows every day to warm up making sure the bow was straight and that i wasn't keeping a death grip hold on the bow. i still do it 2 years later actually. i find i have good days and bad days with tension. but it's a good way to self monitor. i also have a really shiny black piano that i can watch my reflexion in as well. haha.

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