Practice Coach posts here at Red Desert Violin are my responses to photos or videos that students and others have sent me.

This post features one of my students from Fabulous Fundamentals who sent videos of himself playing one of the Suzuki Book 1 songs, “Oh Come Little Children.”

I hope his videos and my critique are helpful to you.
Video #1, without Piano:

BEAUTIFUL REPEAT!!! You took the bow off the strings, and re-set it for the repeat….you did it silently and smoothly (like a little bow circle) with a BEAUTIFUL landing. It gave this song a little “breath of life”. I have not taught you to do this. You are just figuring out how to do things artistically!

Perfect Greasy Elbow, perfect Highway, CLEAN STRING CROSSINGS!!!! Nice!

I LOVE how your feet are balanced, and you are swaying with the music. This shows great comfort on the instrument, and shows you are starting to experience some freedom in your playing. Movement is GOOD….it keeps us relaxed, helps us breath, and helps with balance.

Be careful with finger glue… got your second finger set just a little bit flat, so it was flat most of the time. If you glue your finger and it’s out of tune, go ahead and move it so it’s in tune. This is why I rarely use finger glue…I have a hard time playing in tune with it. But it’s a GREAT skill to have.

MOST IMPORTANT TIP: This tip will improve your playing a TON. You need to work on your SLOW BOWS. Your rhythm is perfect, but you are “burping” the bow on every “hooked” bowing. You keep your bow speed more or less the same, so when it’s time for the hooked up bows, you have to slam on your brakes, and then there’s a big, rough silence inbetween the “hooked up bows”. Go back to the video “Things to Know About Oh Come, Little Children”, and review the exercise I did in the toilet paper core (or scrub a dirty doggie) and pay special attention to where the SLOW BOWS happen. If you can learn to CHANGE YOUR BOW SPEED, your playing will jump to another level!

Video #2, with Piano:

Same comments as video #1.
I noticed you using exactly the RIGHT amount of Colle’ to help with string crossings. Again, I did not teach you this…it must just come naturally to you.

Video #3, Front view:

Thanks for including this view.
For some reason, this video was more out of tune than the others. I think you got your glue set in the wrong spot, and just didn’t move it. When we use finger glue, we still have to listen and make corrections if needed.

Steve, your form looks beautiful, and if you are perfectly comfortable, then don’t change anything AT ALL! However, by looking at this view, I wonder if your left shoulder muscles get tired from cranking your elbow to the right?

Violinists use a trick to help to “rest” their muscles. If your muscles are tired, go ahead and move your elbow to the LEFT when you play on the E string. You’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to relax. Then, when you have to play on the A string, your elbow must move just a little to the left…..and on the D string, it has to move even more to the left, and the G string even more to the left……but after playing on a LOWER string, don’t stay paralyzed in that position! Return to the nice, relaxing E string position as soon as possible.

But if you are perfectly comfortable, then don’t change anything. Just keep that little trick in mind, because as your songs get more and more demanding, your muscles will need little breaks.

CONGRATULATIONS on sounding so darned good. Keep the videos coming. I’m enjoying them immensely!