September 2020 Fiddle Progress Report
Posted on October 2, 2020
Let me start this post by saying: September marks 8 full months of consistent practice!
What hasn’t been so consistent is remembering to write progress reports. Trying to do them in the middle of the month doesn’t seem to work out so well. So I’m trying to move them to the beginning on the month instead. I really do still want to keep up with practice reports.
So what’s been going on?
Well, I got a new shoulder rest. Yes, again. And I need to write a post about what I learned and why. This time, I picked up a Wolf Forte Secondo shoulder rest which was quite affordable at Shar and actually pretty comfortable. While I liked my Play on Air shoulder rest, I had reasons for making a change back to something a bit more traditional. I like the Wolf far more than the more rigid shoulder rests I was using before, and I’ve been experimenting with different height settings to find what makes playing easiest for me.
I also got a new set of strings! The Thomastik Alphayue with Magic Rosin bundle was on sale at Southwest Strings, so I picked that up. I’m still working on breaking in the new strings, and haven’t quite formed an opinion on how they sound or feel in relation to the last set of strings – they were Obligatos and cost more than twice what these did.
I figure it’s time to experiment a bit, trying different price ranges of strings. Not that my playing skill actually brings out anything in any of these brands, but you never know!
I am noticing this pinging sound when I move from an open string to a slur on my D string. I don’t know what causes it. At first, I thought changing my strings would fix it, but it didn’t. Then I picked up my old Bunnel and tried the same fingering – that fiddle makes the sound, too! So it’s not just something with my Master Fiddle. I tried resetting the bridge, changing the strings, resetting the chin rest and different shoulder rests. None of it changed it. I just wonder what it is.
I’m overall pleased with my progress through my EEI book. These are generally easier exercises, but I’m happy that I finally got back to where I was in the book when I was first working in it last year. I’ve now moved beyond that point, though not hugely much. I’m not trying to rush through it, and I do spend several weeks on each tune.
Thanks to these exercises and the scales exercises from the I Love My Scales book, I’m happy that my 4th finger reach and usage has improved quite a bit! This isn’t perfect, of course, but far better than where I was several months ago.
I continue to work on colle exercises, and am slowly trying to integrate the motion into actual tunes when I play them.
I’m also still working on the vibrato exercises, though this has taken me sooo long. I watched a different video about vibrato, and think that maybe I haven’t been doing the motion exactly right – so I’ve been fixing it. I’m still only to the point where I’m making warbling on a string with one finger. I still have issues trying to bow and roll at the same time – my bow keeps wanting to stop when I need it to keep going! More practice, I guess!
Something I don’t talk about very much is my sight reading exercises. I’m really glad that I chose to add these to my practice every day, as I’m seeing improvement in my sight reading after several months of working on these random tunes at Sight Reading Factory. Lately I’ve been thinking about increasing the difficulty of the exercises just a little — adding more strings, that kind of thing. We’ll see.
I think that’s really all I have for this progress report. There’s several topics here I’d like to touch on in posts on their own if I ever get the time to sit down and write about them!