Sunday, September 25, 2011

Five Things You'll Need to Start the Season Off Right & Sound Your Best

It's the end of September and the weather and temperature have settled into the next season: Fall. Auditions everywhere are being held, and orchestras and ensembles are beginning to start again as well. There are a few things you can do as a player to create better sound, and keep your instrument in its best mode. Now is the perfect time to do it!
  1. Straighten Your Bridge.
    Check to see if your bridge is still on correctly.
    I was preparing for an audition the other day, and while practicing I noticed that sometimes my strings gave out a false sound. With an upcoming audition, I wanted all the sound I played to be fluent and pure. But my bridge was leaning forward, out of position and preventing me from creating that sound. The vibration of the bridge is what translates the vibrations of the strings to the instrument. After I straightened my bridge, my violin played much more like its old self. I didn't have any more distractions for my audition, which helped me focus on playing. If you're not comfortable adjusting your bridge, bring it to your violin shop, where your luthier should be more than happy to help. You'll need your luthier for the next few steps as well.



  2. Change Your Strings.
    Violin strings should be changed every year. The beginning of Fall is a perfect time to get new strings because it gives the strings time to settle on your instrument. As the season continues, the strings will be in their prime for a concert. While you're at your violin shop, your luthier can check over your instrument to make sure all else is going well.

  3. Rehair Your Bow
    Your bow hair should be changed about once a year. And the best time to do it is now! The transition seasons (Fall and Spring) are the best time to rehair your bow because hair stretches and shrinks with humidity. At a moderate temperature (like Fall and Spring), your bow hair will be cut at a perfect length to stretch and shrink with the year ahead of it. Rehairing your bow creates a fuller sound, better sound, and better articulation.

  4. Train Your Ear
    A violinist, like all musicians, needs to have a good ear. Practicing intervals and intonation is a great technique to become a better player. Practice tuning by keeping a tone, say A440, and keep it at a continuous sound (with a tuner). Adjust your A string up and down to really hone in on how perfectly you can match the sound. It will also help you quicken your responses to out of tune notes you might play. (Who me? Out of tune??)

  5. Practice!
    Steps 1-3 are about helping your instrument to create a better sound. Although they certainly do help create a better sound, the majority of making good music is up to the player! Practice, practice, practice. There can never be enough emphasis on how practicing makes you a better player. The more time you spend practicing, the more guaranteed you are to perfect a scale, etude, song, audition piece, or performance piece. Even if you feel you can't practice for a long time, taking your instrument out for fifteen minutes a day is better than just waiting for a large chunk of time to spend time to practice. And your instrument will sound better too! Instruments that are played every day sound better! You can also read renowned violinist, Hilary Hahn's thoughts on practicing.

Other Helpful Posts We Think You'll Enjoy:
How to Prepare For an Audition
The Little Things That Count
Ten Things To Do Today To Make Your Violin Sound Better

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