Updated: Feb 17, 2021
The violin is a wonderful but very difficult instrument. It requires endless hours of practice in order to master it and even longer to have it produce a beautiful sound. Its strings are to the violinists what vocal cords are to the singers: tools to express and share emotions. Some people enjoy natural facility, while others need to practice more, but our bodies are all designed the same. We all have two hands and ten fingers, and we all need to find ways to make things easier for ourselves, whenever possible. Here are Professor Rodney Friend’s five top tips to make the most of your daily practice: 1. Find the method that works best for you There are many great teachers out there, and even more great players to whom we can turn for advice and inspiration. But, in the end, when we practise, we are by ourselves. Ultimately, we teach ourselves to play. Each player needs to find their own “best” method, the approach that works for them and helps them overcome their specific challenges. Therefore, you need to practice and experiment and observe yourself in the process. "The violin in 5ths" method is added support to your daily routine. 2. Position your arm correctly Finding the right arm position is crucial. One can cover the full length of the fingerboard in just two or three arm positions. If your arm and shoulder are correctly placed, then the wrist will be soft, and the fingers will acquire a high level of facility. To find this comfortable position, you can follow Dounis’ advice: hold your violin as if it was a mandolin, align your fingers on the strings and then lift the instrument and place it under your chin. You should now feel more comfortable...
3. Tune your fingers With the arm and wrist in a comfortable position, you will have more flexibility to deal with possible complications because the hand will fall naturally on the strings. In order to position fingers correctly on the strings, play scales in fifths as a warm-up. Playing fifths is difficult but you can’t make a beautiful sound unless your arm and hand are in the most natural position. Always remember that the violin is tuned in fifths.
4. Play with vibrato Vibrato should always be kept inside the note. I always recommend playing the fifths with vibrato. This locks your finger pads into the fifths and you simply can’t wander outside the note. 5. Always practice with a beautiful sound and rhythm To me, music is all about singing and dancing. You need a beautiful sound and a great rhythm. I see no point in practicing a sound if you won’t be able to use in a performance. Always practice with a strong pulse, both for the music and also in the vibrato.
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