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Category: Features & Articles

Big Circle Exercises

'Big Circles' are simple, straightforward exercises that you can use as a warm up at the beginning of your practice. They're also useful for improving your bow control, and your feeling for the 'balance' of the bow. Before we get started playing Big Circles, we need to be clear about how the balance of the bow […]

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Long Slow Bows

Long Slow Bows are one of the best - and most straightforward! - techniques that you can use to warm up on the violin! They're also great for improving your bow technique. Practising Long Slow Bows involves playing lots of up and down bows on your violin. But even though the task isn't complicated, there […]

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From Sight to Sound... Why Sight-Read?

All about sight-reading, why it's important, and a checklist to help you get things right first time! From Sight to Sound ... 'Sight-reading' is the term used to describe the reading and performing of music without any previous preparation; to sight-read is to play, or sing, or 'hear in our heads' (audiation) the notated music […]

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Articulation

The articulation of sounds on the violin is much like the production of different consonants and vowels in speech, and the nuance in expression of tone. The many ways of articulating notes with the bow makes them speak in different ways. Articulation in violin music is created using range of bowing gestures. These can give […]

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Listening

  Listening is one of the most important skills you can have. How well you listen has a major impact on your effectiveness at work, your relationships and your musical practice. Listening enables you to learn, to obtain information, to understand and to enjoy, yet it can often feel like an abstract ability. Research suggests […]

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Tempo

One of the most crucial decisions to the performance and interpretation of any piece of music is the speed. Getting the speed right allows room for all the intricate levels of technique and expression to work; it creates the mood, tells the story and allows the music to dance. When we play in an orchestra, […]

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Violin and Age

violin and ageViolin an The beneficial effects of learning a musical instrument are well documented in young children, and the violin has seen its share of child prodigies, but how does the relationship with the instrument change as the player gets older, and is it ever too late to start learning? Even the youngest children […]

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Violin Dynamics

  The word dynamics in music refers to the volume of the sound or note. Dynamics are part of the vast array of musical expression and interpretation marks written into music. Dynamic markings do not represent specific values of volume; they are relative, depending on many factors, from the size of the room in which you […]

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Learn Violin At Home

Search “Learn Violin at Home” online, and you’ll be overwhelmed with resources; video courses, self-teaching plans, books, forums and advice. The violin is a notoriously complex instrument. Is it possible to learn it from home, essentially self-taught, or is there another aspect to learning from home which is more valuable when balanced with lessons? There […]

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Proprioception

Proprioception, Hypermobility and Violin Playing  Proprioception, from the Latin proprius meaning ‘one’s own’ and the word perception, is the sense of the relative position of the joints, and the strength or effort that is employed in their movement. Violin playing requires a highly trained, very specific level proprioception, and conditions such as Joint Hypermobility Syndrome […]

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Electric Violin

  The violin is traditionally built as an acoustic instrument. The shape of the body is designed purely to produce and amplify the sound created by the vibrations of the strings. However, since the American jazz clubs of the 1920s, modern popular music genres have created the need for violins that can be amplified beyond […]

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Using Visualisation In Violin Practice and Performance

  “To rely on muscular habit, which so many of us do in technique, is indeed fatal. A little nervousness, a muscle bewildered and unable to direct itself, and where are you? For technique is truly a matter of the brain.” Fritz Kreizler, violinist and composer 1875 -1962 Visualisation, the process of creating compelling images […]

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Ensemble Playing for Violinists

  “When everyone else has finished playing, you should not play any notes you have left over. Please play those on the way home.” Anon. Making music with other people is one of the best ways to enjoy playing the violin and an important part of developing your skills as a musician. The benefits of […]

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Christmas Songs for Violin

  As Christmas approaches, it is always a nice chance to learn some festive music to get into the seasonal spirit. There is loads of Christmas music available, from carols to favourite pop songs, but before we delve into the Christmas goodies, here’s some improvised fiddle fun from Peter Lee Johnson to get you in the […]

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The History of the Violin

  Bowed string instruments have been played all over the world for many thousands of years. Medieval instruments including the Chinese erhu, the Finnish bowed lyre and the Indian sarangi all had the same basic mechanics as the modern violin, using the principle of a continually resonating string amplified by a hollow body. In 7th […]

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Violin Fingering

  When you begin violin lessons, the left hand finger placement must be learned carefully. The violin has no frets and many teachers put stickers or tape across the fingerboard. Ultimately, the best way to learn finger placing is to train the ear to listen for the pitch and practice the fingering until the correct […]

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The Instrument

  The violin is a string instrument with four strings, usually tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest member of the violin family, which includes viola, violoncello or ‘cello, and double bass, and has the highest pitch. The violin, from the Medieval Latin word vitula, which means stringed instrument, was developed in its modern […]

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Creating Sound

  How the Violin Makes Sound The body of the violin is a hollow space that functions as an amplifier for vibration. The strings are suspended above the body by a bridge, a small piece of maple wood, which stands on the belly of the violin between the F holes and which is secured to […]

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A Guide to Stage Fright for Violinists

  Stage fright is a state of nervousness or fear leading up to and during a performance. It is an exaggerated symptom of anxiety. The hands sweat or become icy cold, the body shakes, sometimes symptoms include nausea, an overwhelming sense of tiredness, a need to go to the toilet or shortness of breath, and […]

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The Body – Awareness of Balance and Movement in Violin Playing

  The sound of the violin is as close as any instrument to the human voice. The ideal for the violinist is that the instrument is almost an extension of the body; it is the violinist’s voice. In order to create this sense, the violinist must learn to use the body without the interference of […]

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Scales Flesch vs Galamian

The scale systems by Carl Flesch and Ivan Galamian are by no means the only in existence, but they have been the most widely used by violin students and teachers for many years. The systems are different in profound ways and each has valid applications for the modern violinist. Both Galamian and Flesch were master […]

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Palladio by Karl Jenkins: A Players’ Guide

  Karl Jenkins is a Welsh composer and musician, born in 1944. He started his musical career as an oboist in the National Youth Orchestra of Wales and studied as a postgraduate at the Royal Academy of Music.  He went on to work mainly in jazz and jazz-rock bands, on baritone and soprano saxophone, keyboard, […]

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Pattern Building

Pattern building studies for the violin are composed around simple ‘building-block’ phrases and repetitive figures, designed solely to build finger strength, agility and facility. There are many such studies in the violin repertoire, the best of which are the study books by Sevçik and Schradieck which, when practiced correctly, build left hand technique and strength […]

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Gloves for Violinists

  If anyone ever says to you, “It sounds like you’re playing the violin with gloves on!” then you can take it they aren’t complimenting you on your performance. But sometimes, especially as winter approaches, we have to practice and perform in cold conditions. Is there a solution for violinists? Something which doesn’t interfere with […]

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The Left Handed Violinist

  I was tutoring at a conference event recently; a slightly unusual one where I was asked to take a room full of delegates, fresh from lunch and expecting some generic team-building exercise, and teach them the basics of violin playing. I stood up and started off with the ill thought-out premise, “Your violin is […]

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