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My adventure into classical mechanics and OT fiddling

Posted by rcc on Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Boy, it's been a long time since I've put up a blog entry.  Part of that is because I'd rather practice fiddle than blog.  Another reason is I was trying for longer blog entries and just couldn't make the time.  So I'm going to see if I can do short(er) entries and let's see what happens.

The popular thinking in a lot of Old-time circles is that classical training is incompatible with fiddling.  Well, I got to the point where I finally understood what I wanted to play and how I wanted to play it.  But my left hand of all things was getting in the way.  This was a real change because for years, the right hand was the issue, not the left.

My technique is pretty close to classical because I was "sort of" classically trained as a kid.  So I hunted down a classical teacher that seemed to really know mechanics and we've spent almost a year now working only on technique.  Life being what it is, I get a lesson every 2-4 weeks.

It's still a work in progress but I'm happy with the results so far.  I've got a lot more left hand control than I used to.  My left-hand mechanics are more consistent under stress.  The left hand has caught up enough with the right hand that I'm starting to work on string crossing exercises to get my bow-rocking technique more consistent under stress.  My intonation on chords (3rds and 6ths) is better.

What's really clear after a year of this is that:

- Good classical mechanics is about adapting a classical approach to fit your individual body.  There's no one size fits all.

- It's amazing what a difference small adjustments can make.  My teacher commented a while back that we've adjusted almost every joint in both hands.

- Relaxation is key.

- Metronome work is too.

- It's amazing what you can do with relatively basic exercises when used properly.  Most of the stuff I do is out of a few pages of Schradiek., book 1.

My goal is to have good tone but play with the punch and grit needed for a good rhythmic OT sound.  It's still a work in progress but the mechanics work is definitely getting me closer. 

4 comments on “My adventure into classical mechanics and OT fiddling”

mudbug Says:
Wednesday, September 7, 2011 @2:20:27 AM

Yes, it is amazing, what small adjustments will do. I'm still working on the basics, trying to fine tune both hands.

stew692 Says:
Wednesday, September 7, 2011 @4:40:38 AM

I agree, I noticed just this week that if I have my fiddle is pointed out a little further forward, my intonation is better.

OTJunky Says:
Thursday, September 8, 2011 @5:08:38 PM

rcc wrote: "Good classical mechanics is about adapting a classical approach to fit your individual body. There's no one size fits all."

I think this is the essential point, and my experience has been that it's a rare violin teacher that truly understands this.


rcc Says:
Saturday, September 10, 2011 @9:47:16 AM

The good classical teachers understand this but they're hard to find. Figure it's like anything else: 10% (or less) are good.

To be fair though, it's not clear to me how much a beginner would benefit. We've been working on fine-tuning. The basics were there.

To get the basics down, yes it would be nice to work with someone really good. But I think you'd do fine if you spent a few years working with someone who could get you in the right ballpark and then switched to someone who could then work with you to fine tune things.

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