You will find here some questions about the violin. And because of the many requests additional about my hair.
Here now a summary of the frequently asked questions about playing violin.
I am often on tour, so I can´t give a definite answer for that. But I guess this questions means, how much is necessary to practice, here the guiding lines I learned from my teachers:
- 2h daily is the optimum to stay fit. Beginners start with half an hour and increase the time, as soon as they can and as soon as their bodies work with it (Like in sports you need to develop your muscles and to stretch your tendons etc.. Not to forget the cornea at your fingertips.)
- “moderately, but regularly” – but too less work does not help you to expand your skills.
- if there is really no time to practice one day, you will be fine with 30minutes.
- 5h the day are the absolute optimum. Better to practice in two units of 3h and later 2h.
- IMPORTANT: do little breaks in the practicing units. Do some stretching and moving. To play violin is an unusual posture for the body, so it must become used to it and stay in a healthy position. And your muscle want to stay loose.
- you will practice a lot, when you will prepare for examinations and competitions. I was once practicing 8h a day for to consist the entrance examination at my academy of music and theater. But I am sure, that was not effective. Your muscles do have their own load-bearing capacity and I remember, that I was often feeling their fatigue the next day.
That is up to anyone himself. I started with the age of six and have now a academy degree. So I invested a really long time. But I know a lot of great people, who started (much) later and reached a high level. I suppose a child may “sound good” after around 4years. An adult much faster.
Not to play one day a week is no problem yet. But here some of the rules I learned:
- “A break for 1day you will feel yourself; a break of 2days will be recognized by your colleagues; 3days will be felt by your audience”
- some times their is no way to practice, because you are for instance on a travel. If this is only one day a week, it is even positive, because you can free your head and relieve your muscles. So I usually take the Sunday completely free of violin and practice.
- if you are in the middle of something and fear, you might forget everything, if you are having a break of one day; do not mind: you remember everything new for 2days. And start to forget details on the 3rd day. So just go one the next day. That is especially a good hint, if you have to practice really a lot of stuff. Then split it into a 2day unit of 2programs.
- even a 10minute rehearse with high concentration is a good version. But try to take 30minutes minimum.
- if you have not much time, practice the really important things just to stay fit. Like a unit for the bow holding and the contact with the string; afterwards a unit to stay fast and easy with your fingers.
No problem. Do it like that:
- I create a practicing plan oriented to my day´s plan (When do I return home? How long need my breaks to be, that I have the full concentration again? etc.)
- I spilt the units into a program of 2days. So I do have enough time and power to concentrated on everything as necessary.
- I want to play many hours a day, I split them, too. For example 5h: 3h, then a longer break, then again 2h practice. You can also practice some hours in the morning and some in the afternoon. So you are always fresh to start the units.
I feel like that, when I am tired. Or my head feels like exploding, because it is full of other ideas.
- free your head. I write everything down, what goes around in my head. I will settle these things after my practice units. It is very important to be COMPLETELY WITH YOUR VIOLIN while practicing. Of course there are also “bad days”. Then I try to do my very best for that day; sometimes it becomes better then, but sometimes I have to go on the next day. No problem, if this happens only one day a month. If this problem becomes a bigger one, you will have to search for it´s cause.
- motivation. I do have some idols that influence me. Like musicians I want to sound like (Jerry Goodman or Stéphane Grappelli as example). Or like people, who´s power for work and artistic output impress me.”Always look for someone, who is stronger than you and pull you in the right direction.”
- take care for your energy level. If your are tired, refresh yourself (sport, sleep, cold shower…). Make your practice units always in a time, where you have power. So you need to know, when is your “dead point” in the day and how tired you are after work, school or a shopping tour.
- just start. Also if you are not in the mood o practice. “The appetite is coming while you are eating” and often all comes itself.
- have a target. To practice only for yourself often is without fun or sense. Look for people to make music together; ideally someone, who plays on a higher level. Or give concerts. There you have a target for your musical pieces and you can try out your skills in front of an audience.
- approach playful. This hint I would like to give parents with their children. These little ones do not want to do thing, because the parents just want it. The more fun they have, the better their connection to the instrument and the better they will learn.
In general yes. But it is a bit “dangerous”, because there is a high possibility to learn a false technique or you do not have any idea, how to learn in an efficient way. A control and the help of a teacher are better in any case. For children I would look for a good teacher in any case, because you want to held all doors open for them! Adults, who only want t learn for themselves I can recommend youtube. Of course here is also the danger, that people load up their unqualified stuff. Therefore here a channel of a musician, who´s ideas I can support (in englisch): Professor V bei Youtube [I only checked some videos; so I can not fully guarantee for their quality. But if you have any questions, you are welcome to write me!: mail[@]ally-storch.com] I am planning a book for people, who want to learn violin by themselves…
This is a clear: “no”! For me there are these points:
- children should start as early as possible with some musical education and later with violin lessons. Today an age of 5 is “normal”, there are also beginners in the age of 4 or 3. But you should not exaggerate it! I would start in the age of 5, better 6. So everything looks good for the children´s future. With good teachers, cool parents and fun with music and the violin.
- adults only need to know, that a great classical world career is not anymore possible for them. In the age of around 17 the body is “grown up”, from around 19 the tendons loose their ductility. So the stretchability of fingers and tendons like in the childhood stops. But most of the older beginners want to play for themselves or outside the classical scene. And here all doors are open for you! The musical world is wide and will be explored, so please do it! By the way: I only had positive experiences with my older pupils.
Holidays are holidays.
- you need holidays. So leave your violin at home. Or take it with you, f you wan play some music with friends or with your family But do not practice.
- How can I start again then? With small steps. With loose exams and with the knowledge, that your fingers feel terrible stiff for 3days minimum (so plan these days, if you want to play any concerts after your holidays). Never play too much of violent. Later increase the units (Not to take care for your tendons and muscles can cause irreparably damages. So the violinist´s “favorite desease” is the tenosynovitis.). It is like in the sports: after a break you start with little units and increase them.
Of course I am often asked something about my hair. Although their lengths is not unusual in some countries (Russia, India…). But they seem to cause lots of questions, so here are the most asked ones.
Yes, it is.
I can not say it for sure. I only know, it took about 6 years to grow from 6cm to a length to my waist.
I cut them regularly, because I do not want them to look frayed.
I guess there will be a huge part of heritage responsible – my mother´s hair had nearly that length; but in a dark color (black-brown).
Of course it is and meanwhile I think, I would cut them, if I would be just a “private person”. Nature just wanted my hair be so long – I didn´t recognize, how long they grew, because I always wore them tied up. Then I have seen, how catchy they are and use them now as a kind of “brand”. People in the audience often do not remember or do not get the chance to know my name; but they always remember my hair. By the way: I am NOT a part of that long hair fetishism; I am often asked for more fotos of my hair, but I do not want fotos just of my hair.
I took a few years for a better control. In the first time it often happened, especially due wild playing. But who ever has seen a show of “Ally the Fiddle” knows, that I do not have the full control and have to free sometimes my hair from diverse instruments.
I use simple no name shampoos. But I need a good conditioner.
- do not use a dryer.
- do not use colour.
- no chemistry (no brighteners, no hair sprays… ).
- cut them regularly. (Some people swear on cutting the hair in the full moon.)
- due the winter time I use oil content conditioner; in the summer time nutrition.
- do not think too much about it – sometimes nature does not want to be influenced.