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Violin Lessons: Tools

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As musicians, we have many tools at our
disposal gadgets of the modern world that
can make our lives easier.
The thing to remember about all tools is
that each tool has a purpose.
Tools can't make changes for you, but they
can help you realize those changes.
The ultimate goal when you're using each
tool is to make it obsolete,
to make it unnecessary.
That's the ideal and it will never happen,
because we,
we can't replicate exactly the mechanics
of a metronome,
the mechanics of a tuner or a recording
But that's what strive for to make it
Let's talk first about recording devices,
what we used to call tape recorders.
You don't have to have a fancy device.
The only requirements to really have it be
of use to you is that it has no
In other words, when you're playing
I'd like you to be able to play it back
and hear it quietly.
And when you're playing loudly, I want you
to hear your full range of dynamics or
at least some relative dynamics.
What a recording device does,
it indicates how closely your ear is
corresponding to reality.
That's why most of us are very surprised
when we hear ourselves speak or
play in a recording.
We, we record ourselves, when we play it
back we say, oh, that was awful, you know,
did I really do that?
Or maybe, if you're lucky, oh, well, that
was actually better than I thought.
However, neither of those surprises is
necessarily great.
You want your ear to be telling you while
you're playing exactly what's coming out.
So the more you record yourself and listen
which means not only criticizing yourself,
but listening with awareness of what
you're actually hearing.
When you do that enough, the ultimate
success is that you have no surprises.
You've been hearing all along what you
like, what you didn't like,
what you'd like to change.
Now the metronome, that's a tool that
indicates how your pulse
corresponds to a mechanical or
computerized pulse.
What we might call a, a real pulse.
The ways to use a metronome are to check
spots in a piece.
In other words,
to play, to start off with a certain pulse
from the metronome, turn it off.
Play through to a new section of the piece
and then stop,
turn the metronome back on and see if
you've kept the same pulse.
That's one way, because that tells you
whether your different sections of
the piece have generally the same pulse.
Another way, another effective way is to
turn the metronome on to a slow beat,
what I would call the bigger beats.
So rather than simply playing with the
quarter notes, deek, deek, deek, deek.
Take it a whole note, so that you're
having to feel a much bigger pulse.
That's a faster way to build that, that
crucial internal pulse.
Also, that lets you use musical devices
where you take a little time but you give
it back,
as long as you're big beats match, then
that is a musical solution.
You can also put the metronome, so
that you're playing with the metronome on
the off beats.
That can be a little hard to start, but if
the metronome is beating on the off beats,
that can correct bad habits like accenting
every beat.
So you're still checking that your pulse
is absolutely even,
but you're doing it at, in a new way.
Your mind is being challenged.
When you use the metronome, you should
notice patterns.
In other words, are all your downbeats
early or all your second beats early.
Are you always late after a shift?
Do you all your 16th note passages rush.
Any time you can notice patterns that come
up again and again,
you're gonna be in a better place to make
changes to those.
I think you should limit what some people
call woodshedding or
I'm gonna work it up with the metronome.
That's where you start the passage, slow
tempo with the metronome.
Play it through, move it up a click.
Play it through again, move it up a click.
That can be a good way to learn a passage,
but it's never the most effective way.
Because you're, you're repeating it so
often with only one change and
that's tempo.
Usually, it's not exactly tempo that's
standing in the way of you playing
a passage better.
It may be only part of the passage that's
holding you up.
And that could be because of the
hand frame, bow strokes, bow pressure.
So just doing the sort of the carpet
bombing strategy of working it up,
slowly with the metronome.
That may be wasting a lot of time and
sapping your mental energy,
your awareness.
So success with the metronome means that
again, you have no surprises.
You always know when you're right with the
You know when you're moving ahead on
you know when you're holding back on
Finally tuner.
That indicates how closely your pitch and
your ear correspond to the mechanical
I like to avoid the actual tuning function
of a tuner, unless I'm tuning my opened A.
I've find my open A by the tuner and then
I turn it off,
tune the other strings to that and I never
use the tuner again.
What I like to use it for is as a sound
So, I like to have a tuner that makes
cuz I use those sometimes as drone notes.
So that if I'm playing a passage, I can
play with the drone and
hear how my notes ring or don't ring with
the drone sound.
I don't like to keep the drone on for very
long at one time,
because I don't want it to be a crutch.
I want my ear to be a virtual drone.
I, I want my ear to be able to play any
sound in my head and
then I can compare my notes to that.
So, I alternate periods of having the
drone on and then I'll turn it off.
Repeat the passage, hearing that drone
sound in my head.
And again, success with the tuner or the
sound generator means that you always know
when you're centered and when you're off
and exactly how much you're off.
So you use the tools, but you're hoping at
the end to make them obsolete.