Thursday, May 10, 2012

String instruments are hard to play.

I've had four viola lessons now.

I think I sound worse each week.

The trouble with string instruments is that there are so many difficult technical things to worry about.

Am I holding the bow properly (probably not!) Are my thumb and pinky fingers bent the right way? Are my second and third fingers hanging loosely with their pads in the right spot? Am I gripping the bow too tight? Is the weight of my arm on the strings?

Is my elbow up high enough?

Is my bow moving straight, parallel to the bridge, and half way between the fingerboard and bridge?

Is my left hand wrist straight?

Are my left hand fingers in EXACTLY the right spots? (Millimetres matter.)

Am I making sure all this is right and RELAXING at the same time?

Good. Now I can start playing!

I grew up thinking that the piano was the most difficult instrument to play. I was wrong. I repent.

This is way harder.

If God had meant music to come out of pieces of wood, horse hair and synthetic/metal strings he'd have made violins grow on trees. He didn't. So playing is difficult.

But. I. will. master. this.



  1. There's more than one reason why I play sax. :-)

  2. Turn the bow up-side-down and practise like that for a bit. Harder to control but it's supposed to strengthen the muscles in your fingers and wrist.

    1. After all, you were looking for a way to make it harder, weren't you??

      One of my teachers once was training to teach Suzuki method and it was one of the tricks used to improve technique and one I continued many years afterwards. It was always good to know things could be worse!

  3. And don't worry so much about where the fingers of your left hand are... your ears will tell you and you can adjust.

  4. Try bapgipes. You don't even get to look at the instrument until you've done about 2 years on a chanter.

  5. I think that string instruments don't let you get away with anything - honestly, they sound worse when you're first learning (been there!) than wind instruments. But hang in there!