Violin Practice Tips-under construction
By creating this page regarding violin practice, it is my hope that my students will gain understanding on how to practice efficiently.
I hope you find the following tips useful for practicing the violin.
Below are some frequent issues and solutions that come up for students learning to play the violin.
Problem: It’s hard to memorize music.
Try This: Listen to recordings of violin music daily to internalize the notes, rhythms, dynamics and other musical nuances. Daily listening of violin music will internalize said musical details. Another thing that will help memorize music will be to play your piece(s) daily.
Understandably, having sheet music on the music stand while playing is a safety net that is natural for many people. With that being said, taking away music can make a person anxious. One trick I learned a few years ago which would make things easier for violin students to memorize music would be to gradually step back further away from the music with each play through of the piece(s). Using this method builds confidence gradually making it easier for students to successfully memorize their pieces.
Problem: Bow squeaks when crossing the strings.
Try This: Straighten out the bow so the bow is parallel to the bridge. Make sure your bow causes friction with the string. Be sure that you have enough rosin on the bow. The purpose of rosin is to create friction with the string. Make sure when you are playing, the bow hair is flat. In other words, you’re not turning the bow hair away from you but the wood of the violin bow is directly above the hair so all hairs are on the string.
Problem: Tone is scratchy.
Try This: Your best sound is between bridge and fingerboard and don’t press with your right hand for tone. Use arm weight to make tone and do not play too close to the string.
Problem: Tone is not clear on the high notes.
Try This: Make sure to keep your bow close to the bridge when playing the high notes. The higher the note you are playing, the closer the bow needs to be by the bridge. Care should be taken to use plenty of bow when playing higher notes.
Problem: Bow bounces when I’m playing.
Try This: Make sure elbow is relaxed and that you are holding the bow loose. Raising your right shoulder while playing can cause the bow to bounce as well.
Problem: The pitch is too high.
Try This: Move the finger towards the scroll.
Problem: The pitch is too low.
Try This: Move the finger towards the bridge.
Problem: My bow is sliding all over the place.
Try This: Make sure your violin is parallel to the floor and that you have enough rosin on the bow. Be sure that you are bowing straight and parallel to the bridge. When you play, your fingers should be touching the bow. Space should not exist between the fingers on the bow and the bow.
Problem: I can’t play fast.
Try This: Also be sure that you are barely pressing with the left hand.
The following video by violinist Lynn Kuo explains one way to loosen up the left thumb which will help relax the left hand: https://www.youtube.com/shorts/BbWq1L_2Hxw
Problem: Some notes “sing” on the violin, some notes don’t.
Try This: Make sure that you use vibrato on every note. Equally important is that every note receives an adequate amount of bow.
Problem: When playing the violin, I hit two strings at once
Try This: Make sure your right elbow is not moving up and down. The right elbow should only change levels when crossing strings or playing a single note to double stops (two or more notes played together).
Problem: When I try to play off the string, the tone is scratchy.
Try This: Make sure you hold the bow as loose as you can and turn the bow hair away from you when trying to get it off the string. In addition, getting the bow off the string should be thought of as a horizontal instead of a vertical motion. Extra care should be taken to insure that you don’t allow your bow to bounce too high off the string.
Problem: I don’t feel like my practice efficiency is not up to par when trying to improve my intonation.
Try This: For hard intonation spots which require slow practice, it may be most effective to practice them throughout the day in short bursts to maximize repetitions and to keep one’s mind fresher when practicing those spots.