Violin intonation (playing in tune) does not have to be hard. Learn about what I call “ringy notes” and it could revolutionize your intonation.
Way back in my high school days, someone tried to explain to me that intonation can be improved by paying attention to sympathetic vibrations, and they handed me a complicated graph showing overtones and mathematical relations between notes.
Ummmm…yeah. That went in my file cabinet of horrors.
Later, upon receiving Suzuki Teacher training, this same concept came up, but it was SO SIMPLE that I embraced it immediately. Tonalizations is what Suzuki called it. Ringy notes is another name for it. Sympathetic vibrations is the scary name for it. Whatever you call it, I created a video to explain it to you. I hope it’s a helpful tool for you as you work on violin intonation.
The video explains how to find, listen, and hear the ringy notes on the violin, which can be very tricky. But here is some advice: If it doesn’t blow your mind, then you are not on the ringiest note. It really is striking when you learn to hear this phenomenon.
The video then teaches the Suzuki exercise called “Tonalizations” and my preferred way for students to practice it. But beware: Once you hear it, you can’t unhear it. Your ears will be awakened to every note you play out of tune, compelling you to fix it! Enter if you are ready for that responsibility. 🙂
I have a decent fiddle and bow. I can hear the “ringing” on all the notes in G maj except C and F#. Are there any tips to nail those? I had tape on my finger board earlier, but I took it off a few months ago on advice from my instructor. I have an D’Addario tuner on my fiddle that responds quickly to fishing in slow tunes and practice drills. Is it detrimental to rely on the tuner at any time? I don’t need it for ringy notes but it helps me find C and F# . My instructor doesn’t like me to use the tuner when I play, so I turn it off when playing tunes, but it seems to help with intonation drills. Is that ok to use for drills? Any other tips to get C and F# better?
I love the D’Addario tuners. They are fantastic, accurate, and responsive!
I agree with your instructor: I don’t want my students playing their pieces with the tuners on. In fact, I only want my students using the tuners when they are specifically working on intonation problems, or focusing on intonation entirely.
BUT: I also want them to work on intonation using other means instead of a visual aid…..otherwise….we are “EYE training” not “EAR training”.
So YES, use your tuner as a tool to verify what your ears think they hear.
And you are correct…..the C and F# are not ringy, so you will have to dial those in using the tuner. But in the old days….before tuners….we learned intonation using ringy notes, and then non-ringy notes RELATIVE to the ringy notes.
So, if you get all your ringy notes in tune, it helps your C and F# to be in tune relative to all the other notes.
But yes, I love the D’Addario, use it without fear or guilt. Just make sure you are also learning to trust your ears without the D’Addario.
OH: I wanted to also suggest the awesome intonation tool of practicing scales with a DRONE. So practice your G Major scale with a G drone. (you can get phone apps, or get drones to play online (dronetonetool.com) or buy a metronome with a pitch generator included.
BEST OF LUCK to you Gary!