Awesome Search Terms

OK, so where was I? Oh yeah, search terms. I was going to comment on some of the more serious search terms that have led people to this site.

First up: Fix fuzzy violin G.
Try the following, in this order:

  • Scrape the string between the bridge and fingerboard with a house or car key, then clean the string with rubbing alcohol. Be extremely careful not to get it on the varnish
  • Check all of the fine tuners — sometimes the base of the tuner will come loose and buzz; tighten it with a pair of needle-nose pliers
  • Check the string for dents or places where the winding is unraveling, especially at the bridge and nut, and the places where your fingers connect with the string most often (usually first position)
  • Check for an open seam on your violin. This often happens near the tailpiece and/or around the shoulder area during cooler, drier weather. If the wood moves when you pinch it together along the edges of your violin, you have an open seam. Take it to a luthier for regluing.
  • Finally, replace the string. G strings are expensive, generally, which is why it’s the last thing on the list.

FYI: depending on how much you play, new strings should be installed at least once a year. Even steel strings will go false (or rust) when overplayed. Wound strings generally need replaced every six to nine months. Professionals often replace strings every month or two.

Next: Pirastro Aricore reviews; Goldbrokat E.

[Official notice: No one paid me to write this “review”. I do not receive, nor have I ever, free strings or any other consideration from Pirastro, Goldbrokat or any other musical equipment entity or supplier in exchange for anything. In other words, I pay my own way.]

I chose this search term because this the string combination I use on my acoustic violin. I like them. They wear like iron, stay true to pitch for a long time, clean up nicely and, most importantly, sound good on my violin. They are about the same price as Dominants, but I think that for my violin, they are a better value.

FYI: there is no law that says you have to buy strings in packages of four. If you have graduated to peg tuning, try mixing up the strings you use. Stay with the same manufacturer — Thomastik, Pirastro, Corelli, etc. — but try different brands. It is best to use steel-core strings if you have fine tuners. I advise not using perlon, composite or gut-core strings with fine tuners.

And then we have this: rhythm timers for violin.

I’m guessing that the piece of equipment you are looking for is a metronome.  A metronome measures time in beats per minute (bpm). The range on most is generally 40 bpm to 200 bpm or more. There are battery powered, electric and keywound metronomes. They come in all shapes, smallish sizes and price ranges, and many include a tuning tone. Check out large music stores for the best selection; best price will probably be somewhere else, like eBay or Amazon. There are free ones online at many music websites (search “online metronome”).

And finally, this: smooth slurs.

Great term! A slur is two or more pitches that are connected smoothly in a single bow stroke. Single-string slurs normally are pretty easy to do. It’s the slurs that involve string crossings that can be problematic for many students. To create smooth slurs, regardless of their context, this is what I recommend doing.

  • Speed down the music — go slowly.  The mantra is “Fingers first, then bow, then play” — the fingers always drop into place a hair ahead of the bow. Otherwise you get strange noises and extra notes, and the sound is heard as being late.
  • First, take out the slur and play the notes, staccato, with separate bows until your fingers have them memorized.
  • Then do a hooked bowing (a slur with stops after every note). The hooked bowing allows you to train your bow to time the string change; it also helps your fingers learn to drop evenly and cleanly on the string.
  • Then do a hooked bowing with a different rhythmic pattern, like long-short long-short, or short-long short-long. (Think about the “gently down the stream” part of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”: the rhythm is long-short long-short long, right?)
  • Finally, try the slur as written.
  • If there is still a bump, burp, or unintended noise in your string crossing or it still feels awkward, go back and try the first three steps again. Your left hand and right hand need to be perfectly coordinated for it to work right, so make sure your passage is correct before you try to speed it up. Otherwise you’ll spend too much time correcting mistakes and not enough time learning new music, which is what you really want to do, right?

I’ll continue this topic on Fridays, in lieu of commenter questions. Do you have any cool solutions or ideas for practicing slurs? What are your favorite strings? Do you have a question? Feel free to leave it in the comments.

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