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Oct 5, 2017 - 12:57:17 PM
57 posts
Joined Aug 13, 2017

About 2 months in now. Still sounds pretty scary. Some helpful feedback would be appreciated. Thanks

https://youtu.be/5j_o-C1agto

Edited by - Lowdown TMoe on 10/05/2017 12:58:28

Oct 5, 2017 - 1:10:48 PM
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1755 posts
Joined Oct 1, 2008

Firstly your video does not show your noting hand. Left hand technique is as important as right hand bowing.
On you bowing ... your wrist and fingers are stiff, all of your bowing is from the elbow and shoulder. This will impact your shoulder and elbow eventually. owww .... It is also impacting your tone now. You need to loosen up your bowing, Here is one way to exercise that. Stand next to a post or wall or door frame and trap your elbow between your body and the structure. Practice bowing a tune like that using your wrist and fingers. You will be amazed at how much you can play trapped like that.
For two months you are not doing badly at all. Keep up the good work. Enjoy the journey. R/

Oct 5, 2017 - 1:32:14 PM

57 posts
Joined Aug 13, 2017

Thanks Richard, I'll definitely try that exercise. On my left hand I do have some issues. I had a severely injured hand due to a German Shepherd attack. Mostly the problem there is in my index finger now. Thanks for the advice!

Oct 5, 2017 - 1:57:46 PM

54 posts
Joined Aug 1, 2017

Does it adversely affect violin playing.
Oct 5, 2017 - 2:25:15 PM
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bluenote23

Canada

43 posts
Joined Jul 27, 2016

Hi Tom,
I have only been playing for a little over a year so perhaps I shouldn't be giving advice but here is what I see…

First, for two months, you're doing really good. You're not squeaking and squawking too much, not nearly as much as you think you are. Your intonation is pretty good.

Now I am learning a classical method so I don't know how much this conflicts with OT technique. For instance, some fiddlers play with the fiddle on their chest which is not a conventional way of doing things but it works for them. So what I say may not apply to OT.

I think that you might want to check out some lesson resource for basic technique. Your bow hold is quite unconventional (though I think there was a thread about an unconventional OT grip, the Two Finger bow hold, not long ago) and this may hinder you in the future. I feel that it is best to start the conventional way and then break the rules if need be once you know them well.

As Richard has noted, you're often 'locking' your elbow and playing with a swinging motion from your shoulder. Because your bow strokes are very short, you can keep a straight bow but if you want to get better tone, you'll need to use the whole bow and so you need to unlock the elbow.

You can do as Richard suggests. I would also suggest watching yourself in a mirror and making sure that the movement of the bow comes from flexing the lower arm at the elbow and not from the motion of your shoulders.

Keep your wrist supple and your 'grip' on the bow (you really don't grip the bow but balance it between your thumb and fingers) relaxed as these need to move a lot as you use more bow.

But you're sounding pretty good. No need to panic.

Oct 5, 2017 - 2:37:32 PM

57 posts
Joined Aug 13, 2017

Thanks guys! The index finger does affect my playing somewhat, as it does on my banjo. Movement is limited mostly on the bottom string, and hinders stretching out my hand for the pinky noting. I just have to work with it. Some great advice on bowing. I've been practicing some since this thread started , so I'll give it another couple months and see where I'm at.Having fun most of all!

Edited by - Lowdown TMoe on 10/05/2017 14:38:20

Oct 5, 2017 - 2:52:41 PM
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bluenote23

Canada

43 posts
Joined Jul 27, 2016

Hey Tom,
One thing I would add is to be very patient. Moving the bow by flexing the elbow is really an unnatural movement and it may take some time to get used to it.

I had a very difficult time 'feeling' the difference between my elbow flexing and my elbow locking. I did not perceive the problem until 8 months into my playing and it took me 5 months from then to get to a point where I don't have to worry about this ALL the time (but I do check on myself a large part of the time, still)

Edited by - bluenote23 on 10/05/2017 14:53:29

Oct 5, 2017 - 11:11:57 PM
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6 posts
Joined Oct 2, 2017

quote:
Originally posted by Lowdown TMoe

Thanks guys! The index finger does affect my playing somewhat, as it does on my banjo. Movement is limited mostly on the bottom string, and hinders stretching out my hand for the pinky noting. I just have to work with it. Some great advice on bowing. I've been practicing some since this thread started , so I'll give it another couple months and see where I'm at.Having fun most of all!


As others have said, you are doing really well for only two months! To take up the violin as an adult is challenging from the standpoint of your personal audience. It is merciless, which is tough to push through, but heck, you posted this for everyone here for advice and that is really quite a good sign. 

I would only add to the bowing advice (since we cannot see what is going on with your left), and focus on the tone that goes with it. Like all instruments, economy of motion and relaxing the moving parts so they can move freely. Try holding your bowing hand more lightly, resting it on the strings and focus on relaxing your whole arm so that it feels like it's so droopy that the bow is barely able to stay on the strings with the least amount of effort. Tip your bow hand into the stick a bit so that it is a balance between your middle finger and the thumb. All other fingers are just resting aross the stick, helping balance it between middle/thumb. Practice a smooth bow stroke (a mirror is a good idea) across each string, just going between them. Long smooth strokes, relaxed wrist, relaxed elbow, down by your side at the frog start/end. One string at a time, tip to frog, then move between each string with a smooth transition.

The motion of your bowing arm should be more of a twist from the elbow and wrist as you down bow (out). The middle finger/thumb balance makes that possible so that you are not gripping so much as just putting enough pressure on the bow to control it and put enough weight into it along with bow speed and length to get a nice smooth and even tone.

Keep up the good work. I have known several people who started fiddling as adults and they all turned into very good fiddlers in the end. As long as keep having fun and making incremental progress, you will improve! AND have fun!

Oct 5, 2017 - 11:25:55 PM
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751 posts
Joined Apr 6, 2014
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hi Tom just watched your Video, your doing fine, i think you may be locking your right thumb under the bow? ( thumb joint should be relaxed and slightly bent, like an "OK" hand sign, have a look at some youtubes of bow hold and movement of the different joints)

i would try resting the tip or middle section of the bow on the strings and try to get the bow moving up and down using ONLY YOUR FINGERS,  (and thumb obviously :O)) it will only move about 1/4"-1/2" at first (or not at all), i can get my bow to move about 11/2" - 2" using only my fingers after a lot of practice, don't use any other joint in your arm, not even your wrist,  just to find out what the different fingers have to do to get the bow moving up and down, (don't worry about the sound )and concentrating on not letting your thumb lock, i think this locking thumb, stiff bow fingers thing comes from using plectrums....maybe? (i had the same problem )......then wrist...elbow....shoulder..etc but always uber relaxed, and keeping the bow on the sounding point and at right angles to the string.( youtube is yor friend, if you are discerning enough)

i found that i had to think one joint further up my arm than the joint i was trying to move...but that maybe just me

BTW well done with the video, i reckon you'll get a few good tunes under your belt in a matter of months...

Oct 6, 2017 - 5:58:08 AM
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55 posts
Joined Aug 10, 2017

Wow, two months and you sound like that? I'm impressed.

Advice I have been given in the past is to 1) accept and embrace the fact that you will be terrible for a long time. (You aren't terrible, though.) 2) Just keep playing. 3) Try to make it sound like what you hear.

That last one is hardest. I think I played mandolin for many years before I started to even hear the things I needed to do to make it sound like old-time music. I wasn't bad at mandolin during that time, I just didn't do those little things that give it the sound. Same with fiddle, which I did even before I took up the mandolin. Now that I hear those little things, I feel I can return to the fiddle and get somewhere with it. It's still a struggle, but now I'm back to my number 1) above.

Oct 6, 2017 - 6:28:46 AM

57 posts
Joined Aug 13, 2017

Thanks for all the encouraging words of advice! I'm doing g these bowing exercises, but having trouble with the bow moving out of my grip after min. I'll just keep a hammer'n on it till I get it👍

Oct 6, 2017 - 6:59:01 AM
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bluenote23

Canada

43 posts
Joined Jul 27, 2016

Pete has mentioned this but one of my struggles with holding the bow was keeping my thumb curved. If your thumb is straight, you're probably gripping the bow rather than having it balance on the thumb so watch out for this.

Edited by - bluenote23 on 10/06/2017 07:05:22

Oct 6, 2017 - 12:16:47 PM
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1294 posts
Joined Oct 22, 2007

Yup. Ditto what UP said.
If that's the first take for somebody that's been playing for 2 months, you have half the gift. The other half will be delivered if you keep it up. Lastly, keep recording yourself. You'll get an appreciation of how far you've come, by reviewing your progress. Trust me, It never gets completely painless. Best of Luck!

Edited by - farmerjones on 10/06/2017 12:17:22

Oct 6, 2017 - 2:07:29 PM
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boxbow Players Union Member

USA

2163 posts
Joined Feb 3, 2011

And if you find yourself forcing your hand to co-operate, it's time to stop and shake out for a few minutes.

Oct 6, 2017 - 2:29:18 PM
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boxbow Players Union Member

USA

2163 posts
Joined Feb 3, 2011

Another tip I haven't seen in any other post is the long, slow bow. It's exactly what it says. Frog to tip. Tip to frog. Each string. Pairs of strings. You can stop notes or just play the open string(s), which might be best right now.
Do what they've always told you about posture.
You should be getting a good couple/three inhale/exhale cycles with each long bow stroke. If you're hyperventilating, you're doing it too fast. If you turn blue, you're catching on. Fainting is considered bad form.
I like the tone you're getting. There's more in there, though.
You're right to focus on bowing at this stage. It's almost like learning two instruments simultaneously, the fiddle and the bow. The bow is the hardest one. You can't fight it and play music at the same time. It's the single hardest mechanical skill, in my opinion.
I'll always have room for improvement. My greatest improvements have been associated with less tension, less effort, more fine musculature recruitment, all of which takes time and the kind of stubbornness we seem to share.

Oct 8, 2017 - 1:12:25 PM
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54 posts
Joined Aug 1, 2017

Everyone has given great advice. Your intonation, as said before, is pretty good, though there were a few minor issues. Your sound was rather choked. I would use more bow. Also, the amount of bow used is also dependent on the length of the notes. For the piece you're playing in the video, you really only need half the bow. I also agree with others on being relaxed and proper movement techniques.

Oct 8, 2017 - 8:59:26 PM

57 posts
Joined Aug 13, 2017

Thanks. I appreciate all the good advice. Very encouraging.

Oct 12, 2017 - 2:15:21 PM

5919 posts
Joined Mar 19, 2009

There are plenty of good fiddlers who have a bow hold similar to yours, BUT, I'd suggest getting the bow under the second joint of your index finger.. That way you'll be able to 'engage' the strings a little more firmly .. Just a suggestion.. For having only played two month you are doing VERY WELL.. You Will be a fiddler..

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