Hot answers tagged

43

Possibly putting the cat amongst the pigeons here. An expert (at anything, be it sport, art, science, etc.) is often not a good teacher. A good teacher knows the subject, of course, but maybe hasn't the propensity to perform as well as an expert. Often, when someone is naturally good at something, they will lack the empathy to understand why the students ...


31

I find any learning process goes in cycles: At first, you're pretty bad. And you know it. Then, you start getting better. You're playing pretty well. Everything is great. And then you realise that you're not as good as you thought you were. Back to step one. You sound like you've reached step three. It happens to all of us. I work with a lot of younger ...


28

Your logic fits and, as some of the commentators have stated, I've pondered about this in the past. Usually your dominant hand naturally can handle doing a lot more work, like you've stated. In playing instruments, the dominant hand also should be used for doing the "big jobs": in drumming, the dominant hand would be hitting the hi-hats. In a normal 4/4 ...


28

As a bowmaker, I would like to temper these answers a bit. Yes, if you leave a bow under tension too long, it will lose its camber (bend) faster. So that's true: one should get in the habit of loosening the bow. But- one, all bows lose camber eventually, even if they are loosened religiously, unless they meet some other untimely end beforehand, because ...


28

You could remain directly facing the audience, with the smile gradually dripping from your face to be replaced by something between boredom & abject terror... ...or you may find it a lot easier to just quarter-turn & watch the conductor. You're still up there, looking professional, paying attention, but aren't being subjected to the actinic glare ...


25

If someone is asking about the key of the instrument, I would answer "I play in concert pitch." If when jamming, someone asks "what key are you in?" I would say, "I am playing in (name a key) concert pitch." Then everyone else will transpose appropriately. In a group with many transposing and non-transposing instruments, a discussion might be needed to find ...


24

Is it too late for me to learn an instrument? No. It's never to old to learn anything. Having the determination and persistence to continue is the hard part. It might be harder for you to learn as your brain isn't as flexible as it was. Music is a language and it will take work to learn. Don't get discouraged though! Can I learn it by myself? Hiring ...


23

A standard string section of an orchestra will have: 1st Violins 2nd Violins Violas Cellos Basses One very typical way to think of this is by way of comparison to a four-part SATB choir (sopranos, altos, tenors, and basses). In this scheme, the first violins will have the melody line, like the soprano part of a choir. The cellos will have the bass line (...


23

This is a heavily-researched, and (sadly) highly inflammatory topic. There are some people who swear it takes 50 years for the varnish to reach a stable structure & stability; there are others who say it's due to the wood itself aging and "settling" in at the cellular level. I'm not aware of anyone who's had the time and the cash to put a couple ...


22

If the comment and existing answer still don't make it clear, maybe a picture: As user25119 wrote, the octave numbers change when you go from B to C. So that means the D and the A highlighted below should have the same octave number. The octave starting with middle C has octave number 4, so the octave from middle C up to the B above middle C is C4 D4 E4 F4 ...


22

As Jomiddnz points out, there's pizzicato. You could also bow one string and pluck another at the same time. But if you want both notes played with the bow, and don't want the bow to catch the strings in between, the only way is by playing on the top and bottom strings with the bow under the strings. Here's an example (OK, the only example I've found): the ...


22

The upbeat is where the song starts. Imagine starting the song "Happy birthday to you" without the upbeat; then you would start singing "birthday to you". When you reach the end you don't play the upbeat of the song. Imagine ending "Happy birthday to you" by singing "Happy". So the upbeat is part of the song, starting the song, and should be played at that ...


21

I'd add to Dr. Mayhem's list: You never know when something will interrupt your plans. You might be 20 mins into a planned 1-hour break, and then the doorbell rings, you welcome a friend, ... next thing you know you're going out for lunch and completely forgetting the tensioned bow. By making a habit of loosening the bow every time you get up, you'll ...


20

D4 up by a perfect fifth is A4. The octave number in the scientific note naming system only advances when crossing the B/C boundary, so the C major scale notes available on the violin (notes on open strings marked) are G3(open) A3 B3 C4 D4(open) E4 F4 G4 A4(open) B4 C5 D5 E5(open) F5 ...


20

Some performers prefer the "look busy" approach. I once attended an oboe concerto performance in which the oboist swabbed out his instrument every time he had more than 4 measures' rest. I suppose a violinist could rub down excess rosin, pretend to tweak the bow tension, re-set the comfy rag under the shoulder rest, etc. In any case, looking attentive, and ...


19

It certainly takes most people quite a long time to achieve the kind of fine bow control that's required to make a smooth sound. It's not straightforward at all - you've got to dig in enough at the start to make the sound full, but not so much that you start each note with a scraping sound; you've then got to master the complex balance of bow speed and ...


19

The example you gave, Shostakovich's Gadfly suite, gives you quite a lot of the answer: music is often written for several instruments at once, only one of which is a violin. The Bb clarinet is no doubt thinking "whew, this score's key signature no longer looks so crazy". Maybe Shostakovich associated his initial idea for that Romance so strongly with D ...


19

The octave your violinist suggested is fine. Another possibility is the following: Why did Beethoven not write the above chord in his piano sonata? Because that major tenth is rather awkwardly wide for a pianist's hand. The chord he did write spans only an octave and so fits the pianist's hand. People writing for the piano prefer what is easier (and prefer ...


18

The wood type in any stringed instrument matters a great deal, especially on acoustic instruments. Some parts of the violin contribute more to the overall tone quality than others, but all the parts make a difference. A stringed instrument is a case study in engineering trade-offs. After all, how does a violin produce its sound? To begin with, note that ...


17

Be sure not to wait too long. Reattaching a sound post, or at the worst, refitting a new one is a pretty standard operation. It is important for the sound quality and it also carries quite a bit of tension originating from the strings and the bridge. While some of it is also taken by the bass beam (running in parallel to the strings under the cover) in ...


17

The two different scores are in two different keys. The "piano" score is actually for SATB chorus/choir, and is notated in the key of Bb major most likely because it is more comfortable for most singers and/or the original version of it was written in that key. The violin score is written in C major, probably because it's an easy key to read, write, play, ...


16

There may be a small amount of "performance practice fad" about that, but for the most part it does serve a purpose. Breath is used in many styles of music as a cue. If you think about wind instrument players, for example, every phrase is preceded by a breath, and experienced players will take that breath in rhythm. As a rhythmic gesture, it can be used to ...


16

There is a shortcut, yes. The secret is to practice smart. I used to tell my students there is a difference between practicing and playing; between cleaning up all the difficulties and going into the small details, and playing just for fun or for others. The more time you spend in cleaning grey zones, being careful with sound quality, with fast exercises (...


16

It's very common to write 3 or 4 note chords for strings, and the implication is to play it as two gestures in quick succession. Here is the first page of the first movement of Beethoven's first symphony: On the fourth bar, there's a 4-note chord (mercifully, with two open strings). The standard way to play this is to quickly play a double stop on the ...


15

I will throw in my own take as I differ from the other opinions on a few points: Like everyone says: go for it. If you put in the time and attention to it, you will get rewarded. You mention "3 hours free time on weekdays and whole day on weekends for practice". I'd suggest that you start slow: practicing is tiring. Practice a tiny bit but regularly, ...


15

My go-to approach for this is just to let your eyes guide the audience to where you believe their attention should be. If you look at the orchestra after you have been the center of attention for a bit, they'll do the same thing. Lead the audience to where you want them to be...both with your music, and with your body (and eye!) language. Edit: Once it's ...


15

This actually happens more than you might think. If you Google it you might be surprised by how many results you can find. The reason is usually to do with the overall standard of the competitors. In these prestigious competitions they don't just give the first prize to the one judged to be the best: they also have to show sufficient talent to be ...


14

Many things can enter in. Bow pressure can force a string out of tune. Try this: tune the open string bowed, then play the string with excessively heavy bow pressure. You'll go out of tune. Depending on the quality of the instrument, the bridge&soundpost setup, and the phases of Jupiter's moons, you may find that a perfectly tuned (bowed) open string ...


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