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  • #2417 Reply

    Michael Sanchez
    Keymaster

    Understanding what type of player you are goes a long way in helping you improve your skills on the violin/fiddle/viola. Some players I would label as “too technical,” while other players I would label as “too musical.” It is quite the treasure as a teacher to find someone that is naturally balanced regarding these two categories. I would say 95% of students (without even realizing it) are too technical or too musical, thus causing difficulty in progressing efficiently. Let me give you some violin technical tips and explain each persona.

    The too technical player…
    This student will struggle to progress to the next level because they dwell on perfection. They want to get everything perfect before moving on to the next song. Although this works in school, too much perfection can hurt you in learning music, as it is important to progress through material at an efficient rate. Trying to perfect things can also cause over frustration that can lead to discouragement. Here are signs you might be too technical:

    1. You have been working on the same song for over 2 months.
    2. You have a desire to backtrack, before moving forward.
    3. You don’t like learning songs because you don’t feel you have the basics down yet.

    Being too technical is great in a way (as the violin is a technical instrument), but only in moderation. My suggestion is to perfect a song/piece to 80% level, and then move on to the next song/concept (usually 2-3 weeks on a song). What you will find is when you go back to learning the same song 6 months later, you will be able to play it 95% perfect. This is because it takes time to develop technique, and you are hurting yourself by not attempting to progress to new stuff when you don’t have something perfected. Remember, everything is about balance.

    The too musical player…
    This student will struggle to progress because they don’t want to take the time to learn fundamentals. They are all about learning that next song, and don’t really think about the technical aspects of playing. Honestly, this sort of persona can be more dangerous as it often leads to quitting the violin. When someone wants to learn a song really bad but can’t figure out how to play it properly, they can easily quit because they get frustrated in the sound quality they produce. What they don’t realize is that they are hurting themselves by not working on technique, and they will always struggle to get a clean sound. Here are signs that you are “too musical.”

    1. You think about nothing else but playing a song. Not many technical thoughts about playing go through your head.
    2. You try to learn a lot of songs through YouTube.
    3. You haven’t done a drill related to the violin in quite some time.

    My suggestion to the “too musical” student is to do a little bit more studying when it comes to learning the violin. Take advantage of this site, and try to understand what it takes to produce a proper sound. You will be amazed at what taking more time on the technical aspects of playing will do for you, even if it is just for a few minutes a day. I know it isn’t “fun,” but it is much more fun to create a better sound and get to the point where you are thrilled with how you sound!

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    #2423 Reply

    stringdiva010
    Participant

    whoa…I definitely fall heavily into category one, the technical player. In my experience, however, I find it necessary to be vigilant in learning a piece. In my earlier years, I was the unbridled musical player with no resemblance of good technique or the composer’s intentions in a piece. I will definitely try the 2-3 week pause.

    #2643 Reply

    Tracye
    Keymaster

    I would consider myself the technical player…I tend to be a perfectionist so have to push myself to try new songs…having a teacher helps with that 🙂

    #2653 Reply

    Madelyn Presley
    Participant

    I’m not sure what I’d be! For me, the song does not have to be perfect, just as long as the timing is correct. I do use YouTube for some songs, but only to hear how it goes and to listen to the timing. Also to just enjoy the song(s). I don’t do this for all songs though, since I have some on my iPod. Some songs I might take my time on, if I’m learning it just for fun, and others I’ll push myself some if I have a deadline for it, like a recital or my cousin’s wedding. The ones that I learn for fun, however, I learned very quickly. Two songs, one five-page and the other three-page, I learned in two to three days. One song, that was also five pages but much more complicated, I learned in three weeks. Other songs have taken me a few months to learn, but it all depends on the song and my eagerness to learn it. What type of player do you think I am?

    Everything that I mentioned was for piano. Technically, I just picked up the violin yesterday…..

    #3966 Reply

    Yinmui
    Participant

    I think I myself am too technical, for about a whole year, I went back to the easier stuff on Suzuki books to work on my basic techniques. Then I found a new teacher, and I think he might just be too musical. He had me jump two books to Suzuki book 4 from book 2 which I was playing. And he also has future repertoire plan for me, which I think might be too challenging, but he says he will help me learn all the song.
    I like him in that he gets me playing all the great repertoires.

    #4025 Reply

    jodi
    Participant

    i am definitely too technical. but then, by this definition, so is my teacher. i think i wish we had more balance. i love that 80% rule. it’s funny though, with all of the drills my teacher has given me i think he uses the 80% rule. but with the actual pieces we’ve worked on since i started again w/him in feb. i think we may be too technical. i had that tullio danerri. piece pretty much perfected… now he wants to hear it again… ah well. at least we’re working on the third movement now. i think it’s time to move on from schindler’s list though. i definitely have it at 80%.

    #4431 Reply

    William Bickerstaff
    Participant

    I also tend to be a bit too technical at times. I tend to want to play a piece/etude, etc., perfectly before I move on. I also try to play a piece too rapidly too early. All the while those two words come back to me…

    “Practice slowly” – Itzhak Perlman

    As Itzhak says it, “If you practice quickly, you forget quickly and if you practice slowly you forget slowly”.

    C’mon metronome… keep me straight.

    I spent a lot of time on scales, arpeggios and etudes every morning for about an hour, then again in the afternoon. I may, but not always, practice on a song. I think it is a matter of balance, and to help out undoing my imbalance I started a practice log. In this log I write down everything I do. This includes scales, arpeggios, etudes, songs and even my stretches and hand/arm exercises for strength and flexibility. As my day progresses I will look at my log and see what I did not do yet today and start working on that.

    When I don’t have a violin and bow in my hands and I am just sitting around, I sometimes do what I like to call the “pencil drill” in which I grip an unsharpened pencil in my right hand as if I am holding a bow ensuring my grip is done properly. I will even go through bowing motions being mindful of my grip and the flexing of my wrist and the movement of my right arm. This has helped to be more aware of my grip, especially my worst “transgression” of straightening my bow thumb.

    #5074 Reply

    Belinda
    Participant

    Prior to reading this I might have categorized myself as too technical or maybe too musical…lol. I think I’m equally both and find I still get frustrated. I think its more because I don’t have a teacher to guide me through the music. That’s a big factor.

    But I really like this post because it helps you realize we need to find the fine balance between technicality and musicality. I too can get really excited about learning a song and quit it if I can’t seem to get it right away. I’ve taught myself to slow down. I can get frustrated from focusing too much on intonation, tonalization, or bow hold that it takes the fun out of the song.

    The advice in this post is super helpful. Thanks for shedding light on this! Helps me stay motivated!

    #6674 Reply

    rgarcia12
    Participant

    I smiled to myself when I read the too musical section. I am way to musical, even though I have been playing for 10 years I need to take time to sit down and learn and develop an understanding on all the technical stuff. The too musical describes me down to the last word. 🙂

    #6795 Reply

    Mariko
    Participant

    Very interesting article. I think before I played a bit too musical, in a short time I wanted to learn many pieces without even playing them very well. Now I take more time to practice with a metronome and pay attention to the harder parts. I play them slowly working on my technique. I’m really happy the way I’m practicing now. The strange thing is that before I’ve played clarinet for years and I’ve never practiced this thoroughly as I’m practicing now with the violin. It feels like a completely new experience in music!!

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