We acquire skills in one way when we get comprehensible input in a low-anxiety environment.
The low anxiety environment, means you know you are in control of the playing by knowing how your body muscles work.
That’s why we practice slowly.
I will share how to practice the violin consciously.
Practice the Violin - Major Tips
If you practice slowly thinking about why you didn’t like the sound you make, why your fingers are not the way they should be, and which muscles are not properly working, you will save so much time and improve every day!
I’m going to talk about body muscle roles and this is what we already know. But if we relate this to violin playing, I can assure you that you can have the most effective practice skills ever.
So, please do not skip this! You will regret it if you skip it!
What I am going to share will improve your tone production, relaxation, vibrato,
Understanding Major Muscles
There are about 600 muscles in the human body.
We should make natural sounds by using many muscles.
In order to do that, we have to hold the violin and the bow with natural angles
where body muscles can be easily and naturally used.
There are some major muscles you need to know in order to play the violin.
The abdominal muscles support the trunk and allow body movement.
The trapezius muscles help support the weight of the arm and move the shoulder.
The pectoralis major is a thick, fan-shaped muscle, situated at the chest of the human body.
Its functions are flexion, adduction, and internal rotation of the upper arm.
The deltoid is the prime mover of the arm.
The bicep is a large muscle that lies on the front of the upper arm between the shoulder and the elbow. Its main function is to flex and twist the forearm.
The latissimus dorsi is the largest muscle in the upper body. It’s responsible for the extension, adduction, and rotation of the shoulder.
Finger extension muscles on the forearms extend the hand and fingers.
How to replace fingers naturally?
How should the left and right fingers be placed to use those major muscles to make the sounds you want?
First of all, fingers do not contain muscles. The muscles that move the finger joints are in the palm and forearm. Please think about the major muscles I just mentioned earlier.
Find the body core, and use the left upper arm to support the violin.
To use the upper arm muscle, your chest, back, and shoulder muscles should be balanced out.
Place the violin neck between your thumb and the index finger then move your upper arm around.
Those fingers touching the violin’s neck should be the axis of the left arm’s movement.
So, make sure this touching feeling is always soft to be free of your fingers’ movement.
Let’s talk about the left hand
The feeling should be like clenching a fist softly.
The fingers can be slightly leaned towards the violin scroll.
Where does the thumb go? [The Thumb’s location]
You can see the muscles under the first joint of the thumb.
The rest of the four fingers will be supported by the thumb muscle.
And! The thumb is supported by the forearm which is also supported by the UPPER ARM!
And the upper arm is supported by lots of upper body muscles!
That’s why good posture is very very important! So, practicing without a bow is one of many practical ways to practice
This logic applies to your vibrato. The movement of your finger joints when you do vibrato should be starting from
Correct the angles of your fingers
Thumb muscles supporting fingers
Arm muscles supporting hand muscles
Upper body muscles supporting the entire of your arm and hand.
I’m sure you have heard of finger vibrato, wrist vibrato, and arm vibrato.
Subjectively, I think it’s hard to separate clearly. Moving fingers even need muscle support on the arm.
I’d rather look for vibrato styles getting along with the music and phrasing than deciding between finger wrist or arm vibrato. I will talk more about vibrato in another post later.
Let the upper arm which is the strongest and the biggest muscle in the arms help the forearm and the hand movements.
So if you think “Oh, I have to shift, I’m going to use my finger to move!”, That’s already late.
So, you have to think you are going to move your finger from here, the big muscles because fingers do not contain muscles! Always from big muscles.
Drawing can be compared to playing the violin. The majority of left-hand techniques can be drawing tools, and the bow can be drawing brushes. The white sketchbook can be the pure and natural sound the violin has. Then, sketching and applying colors can be the bowing technique and making music.
1. Pure Natural Sound
pure natural sound means the resonant sound naturally coming out of the violin with the minimum effort. When you can make the natural resonant sound, you can make various colorful sounds you want.
Fingers should naturally fall down the bow from the base knuckles.
The middle finger is the core of the bow grip and the thumb gives only minimum pressure to support the other four fingers.
Grab the bow with the minimum effort with the palm muscles.
The upper arm muscles help the palm muscles to hold the bow lightly.
Upper body muscles also help the upper arm to be able to feel gravity so that fingers can naturally sit on the bow. For the down bow, you should feel leaning into the index finger.
For the down bow, the pinky muscles get lighter like riding a seesaw.
For the up bow, you still lean into the index finger though, feel the ring finger and the pinky receive the weight of the bow by curving it.
2. Colorful Sounds [musical dynamic]
Each string has a different thickness. You should be able to control the pressure of the bow
because the required tension depends on where your left fingers are on the string, and where the bow locates(various sounding points between the bridge and the fingerboard). You always have to listen carefully to the sound you make for sounds you want to make.
Let’s say the pure natural sound’s dynamic is mp or mf.
For p, pp, or ppp, your bow pressure gets lighter, further from the bridge, and the bow speed could be faster.
For f, ff, fff, your bow pressure gets heavier, closer to the bridge, and the bow speed could be slower.
Using different frequency vibrato makes the sound even more colorful and differnt.
3. Seeing a big picture [phrasing]
Why do you hear a music piece differently from different players?
It’s hard to understand if someone keeps stopping while he’s talking. It’s hard to appreciate the music if phrasings keep breaking. If we compare it to reading a book, how we make voice, pronunciation, and breathing can decide fluency.
Fluency in music can be made with good intonation, rhythm, the color of each note, how to make connections between notes, and where the connection ends.
The ideal practice is thinking about everything at the same time,
Like you are comfortable enough to fix technical issues while you express your music.
So if you become your own teacher, and observe yourself consciously and continuously, you can always have effective practice time!
Thanks for reading. Also, if you have any questions or requests, please leave a comment below.
Photo credit: www.muscleandMotion.com