Sunday, 4 January 2015

One Year Progress Update

I wouldn't have imagined that I'd go 9 months with no post and little practice.  I allowed other things to get in the way of my goals, but I'm happy I've been dedicating time to my practice again the last month or so! Despite my work travel and other commitments, I'm looking forward to making much more time in year two :)

I've been working on Gavotte Martini from Suzuki Book 3.  It's very rough and needs work.  I have a mute on for the recording, which is the only way I can play in my apartment.  Some would say I should have a mute on all the time anyway!

I seem to still have all the same beginner problems I had in March, including needing to work on:
  • Clean string changeovers
  • Bow Control
  • Using more bow
  • Loose wrist (getting there but not loose enough)
  • Dynamics, although this one's tough with a mute on :)
I welcome any constructive feedback!

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Week 12 with Violin - Swallowtail Jig for St. Paddy's Day

Unfortunately I kind of massacre it, and have a failed attempt at a harmonic, but I still had fun.  It's one of the first times playing my new Ming Jiang Zhu violin and I'm nervous about how loud it is to my neighbors, so this was a one-take only tune :)

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

3 Month Progress - The King's Fiddlers

I'd surely sadly get demoted to the Jester's fiddler were I at court.  Here's my best effort at 3 months. Planning to play a song that uses other positions for my 4th month video.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Beginner Level-Up! - First Time Changing Violin Strings

Following an initial rookie mistake of winding the wrong direction on my G string, I got my strings changed for the first time with no major mishaps.   I had a bit of trouble getting one of the strings strung through the fine tuner but a gentle widening with a screwdriver fixed that.  

I was confused by the bit of plastic on my 'E' string.  One of the helpful folks on a chat forum explained that if I don't have parchment on the bridge I should use this little plastic tube on the bridge so the E string doesn't cut the bridge.  Thanks Dan.  Makes sense.  Hope I placed it ok!

That's another violinist milestone completed!  What a difference already from the factory strings that came with my Cecilio electric to a set of Dominants. 

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Week 9 Recording - Sad Rock Ballad on Electric Violin

More like neurotic rock ballad by the somber look on my face. :)  Some mistakes and backing track too loud, and an awkwardly long intro, but here's my progress!  I welcome any constructive feedback.  

'Toys' for the Electric Violinist

Indulging my inner Metalhead/Rockerchick beginner electric violinist.

Today I bought a Zoom G3X multi-effects pedal and 
an Orange Crush Micro Amp.  My Zoom is a crazy splurge for a beginner, but buying just a looping effect and a delay would have cost as much, and they would have been my first purchases individually.  So although it's much more effects than I'll know what to do with for a long time, I'll eventually learn to make sounds and effects I like from among the myriad options built in, or sure have fun trying!

My last splurge for a long time I think :)

Thursday, 13 February 2014

My Beautiful New Obsession Arrived in the Mail

In these first few weeks I've been playing an unplugged acoustic.  Today my beautiful Ming Jiang Zhu 905A arrived in the mail in perfect condition.  I'm in love.  

Here's fiddlerman making it sing like no one else could.  I purchased it at  

Monday, 10 February 2014

Weeks 6-8

On a business trip to Spain and took my violin with me!  Unfortunately I had little time to practice, spending in one week on practice time, what I'd usually spend in a day.  I learned Minuet 1 by Bach and recorded it for my two- month anniversary of playing.  A few squeaks and my first feeble attempts at using vibrato a couple of times.  I'm smiling because the last take had a horrible mistake.  

I have to keep working on my 'squeaks', and using the full bow among other things.  I missed some slurs that should have been included.  Also I added staccatto to one section that doesn't call for it.  That one was some 'creative license' :)

Playing an unplugged electric.

Week 5

My first recording from Essential Elements Book 2.  Song 152 - May Time.  6/8 timing, several slurs, and staccattos.  I practiced this one for a few hours before it was 'postworthy'.

Playing an unplugged electric 

Week 4

I worked my way through Essential Elements Book 1 over the first month, and learned everything but the Minuet 1 to varying degrees of proficiency.  I recorded 3 tunes on my unplugged electric.  I need to get an amp to improve the sound.

Slurring Practice - Essential Elements Song 155 - Monday's Melody

Slurring is when you continue to bow in the same direction while playing more than one note.

Staccatto Practice - Essential Elements Song 182 - Surprise Symphony

I didn't have instruction on doing staccatto at this point, but my new teacher gave me some much needed pointers shortly after I recorded this.

Fourth Finger Practice - Essential Elements Bonus Song - Pedal to the Medal

I still struggle with 4th finger a few weeks later, but I'm working on it!  This song is fun as it's a bit 'rocker' reminding me of Smoke on the Water.

Day 10

An online community posted a New Year's Eve project. I self-taught by ear and decided to take the plunge do a 'beginner' post.  I had no idea what I was doing but was having fun doing it, though concentrating quite hard in this vid.  I'm playing an unplugged electric.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

About Me

I'm starting this blog of my journey learning violin at the two month mark.  I'll use this blog to post my progress so I can look back and see I'm actually learning (I hope!), for fun, and for any related topic that I fancy.  Maybe it will inspire some other potential student to try it out too.  The beginner posts of other adult learners made me brave enough to try.

I've loved string instruments my whole life.  As a child I wanted to play violin but didn't have the opportunity.  For many years in adulthood I had on my annual New Year's resolution list to learn violin, but I never took that first step.  Intimidation?  The idea that if I didn't start as a child, then it's too late?  Busy career?  So many reasons and artificial barriers that I'm so happy I impulsively removed. I got so much more than I expected as it's much more of a passion already than a pass time.  What took me so long? 

I purchased a Cecilio Electric CEVN-1 from after discovering the wealth of online resources and community at that's there for someone like me, as an adult learner, who wasn't ready to sign up with an instructor from day one.  I also discovered shortly after, starting online lessons with Michael Sanchez.  Between these two sites and the amazing, supportive communities that have built up around them, along with some great new friends from these communities, I have more than enough inspiration and help for years to come.

I also purchased Smartmusic and I'm sure it's helping me learn faster and it makes it so much more enjoyable hearing myself play to a backing track.  The instant score and other feedback (intonation, rhythm, etc) is very  helpful and makes me strive to keep getting higher scores, like a video game only better.

I haven't played an instrument in 33 years, and had 3 years of piano, clarinet, recorder back then.  From day 1 I knew this would become a happy obsession and I'm just loving this journey I'm on!