List of easy things to improve your violin playing

By Valerie Malvinni on Aug 25, 2013 at 10:22 AM in Santa Barbara Violin Tips

This is a short list of some fun and easy things you can do to make an improvement in your playing.

1. Listening

The most immediate would be to listen to recordings of classical pieces. I began violin as a Suzuki violinist, and I can remember sitting next to the record player and listening intently to hear how the songs should sound. I also enjoyed trying to imitate what I heard. My favorite violinist was Itzhak Perlman, who became a major inspiration for my practice.

2. YouTube

 Aspiring students today have an added advantage and resource. With You Tube you can listen and see the performer play, and hopefully see how their technique works.

3. Live Concert

Yet there is still no substitute for attending a live concert. I will never forget taking my daughter to see Anne-Sophie Mutter play. We were both completely inspired, and got to meet her afterward. A full year later, my daughter is still talking about that night.

4. Analyze

When you are watching and listening, think about and try to notice how they are playing. If you are working on a certain technique in your lessons, observe how the artist is managing the same issues. Figure out what is working and why.

I think I was a teacher even before I became a teacher. I remember when I was a student at summer festivals, like the Quartet Program at Taos. I would take notes during the concert on my program about certain things that stood out to me about the performance I was watching. It was usually about phrasing, posture, vibrato or bow technique. Often I would take notes on what I liked or maybe how it could be even better. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes sitting back and just listening is just as helpful and enjoyable!

 5. Masterclass

            Try to attend a masterclass if you can--these are so informative and beneficial. Most likely other people have similar issues to you, and you might also learn about some new ideas. I have even attended masterclasses for instruments other than my own and they were just as helpful. I once watched a clarinet class at Music Academy of the West. The instructor talked about moving too much. He demonstrated that if you are moving your instrument side to side the tone and volume will change in the audience. This is also true for string instruments.

 For fun, analyze this short video of Perlman performing a violin arrangement of Schubert's "Serenade." What do you like about his playing? What kinds of emotions does he convey, and how? Does his playing tell a story, and if so, how does he do it? Look at how his vibrato is working, or how he bows double stops, or his lyricism. Is there anything else you notice about his playing that can help you to play better? 




Mar 30, 2014 Arrow1 Down Reply

Hi Valerie.

What a beautiful website! I would like to recommend to all my students to attend your camp. i would like to know if it would work for you for me to observe some classes during the camp so that I will be familiar with the experience my students are having. It makes it easier when the camp is over to segue back into my program with them. Let me know what you think. Thanks.

By the way- I worked with Mr. Suzuki in England when I lived there! What a wonderful man!

Dec 26, 2014 Arrow1 Down Reply

Hi Valerie.

Thank you! I've been doing Orchestra for 3-months, as an elective. I'm really behind. People either: Take lessons, or have experience.I don't. My question is do you have any ways for me to improve? I'm learning to use "8th Notes" and similar things. Is there a way to play them better? When I play- I go to slow.

Apr 30, 2018 Arrow1 Down Reply

@Glen : Hi Glen! I've been playing for about a year now, and what my orchestra teacher always tells us to use less bow when we are doing 8th notes & 16th notes. It helps a lot actually, you should try it!

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