Singing while playing the violin is like driving a car in heavy traffic while talking on the cell phone, and having an argument with your wife, and the kids are fighting in the back seat, all at the same time. Hang up the cell phone. Shut up and play. It takes all you have got.
I don’t know why, but I’ve been receiving a lot of Quora threads in my inbox recently about the violin. Someone asked: “Why is violin considered the hardest instrument to play?”, and in one of the replies given (quoted above), there’s a great analogy used.
The violin requires an absolute amount of complete focus to produce the sound that we want. You have to stay in tune with your fingering, worry about your bow positioning and bow strength to produce the dynamics that you want, in addition to the usual musical requirement of counting beats and staying in rhythm.
I have never ever seen any serious, professional violinist who performs while singing. Lindsey Stirling comes very close with her dancing and pirouetting, but she’s not singing.
Learned how to use the left pinky finger (or “fourth finger”, in violin terminology) to press the strings last week. Naturally, I’m struggling to produce a consistent sound with good intonation on the pinky finger because these are muscles that I’ve never really used before. Who knew that learning violin could help train all the muscles in your fingers? Pretty sure piano players get a lot of workout for their pinkies too.
In other news, I managed to find a full, violin-solo-specific musical score on MuseScore for… Red Like Roses, both Part I and II. Uh oh. There are some scary parts of the song that look way above my current level (one bar alone has like 16 crotchets). But give me enough motivation to challenge myself and I’ll take it on in a heartbeat. I’ll give myself one year to learn how to play both Part I and II decently.
I tried playing the first line of the song today. It sounded like crap, mainly because my fingers are still not used to their different positions for F Major. When my brain is so tightly focused on finger positioning, the sound that is eventually produced doesn’t sound great.
I know that if I keep practising, I’ll get better and things will sound better. Three months ago when I was still a super-beginner, I had difficulty playing continuous notes on different strings. Now it comes naturally.
Discipline is such a chore to maintain. But I’m seeing improvement and results, and that’s good enough for me to continue practicing everyday.
Find your own inner motivation. For me, it’s videogames. For others, you have to find a way to find it.
My violin teacher asked me to choose any song from any genre that I would like to learn, as part of my ongoing violin lessons. Immediately my heart and brain chose Lost in Thoughts All Alone, one of the songs that inspired me to learn this instrument in the first place. I’ve blogged about it before.
She immediately took out her iPad and googled for the musical score. I told her that no official score exists, and that there are multiple versions of the song with different durations. Still, there were plenty of results that came up — it’s the signature theme song for Fire Emblem Fates after all. One of the transcribed scores that caught her eye on Google Image search was from none other than MuseScore, that same website that I wrote about before. 10 minutes later I was learning a crash course on how to play the F Major scale on violin, I’ve only learned C Major and D Major so far.
Unbelievable. One of my future goals in learning the violin has just become an immediate goal. I would like to play the full six-minute version one day, but this is still a good start for a beginner.
Suddenly I’m inspired to go back and finish Birthright and Revelation once and for all on my 3DS. And I am eternally grateful to my friend Joe for recommending me such a chill and open-minded violin teacher.
Here is my own personal goal for playing the violin: I want to learn to play a violin solo for Lost in Thoughts All Alone from Fire Emblem Fates, the full version. “Full version” meaning the entire six minutes, including all the parts where Azura sings the lyrics for Birthright, Conquest, and Revelation.
There is just one big problem: I can’t find the sheet music for a violin solo of this song. The closest I’ve found is h4kase2’s sheet music for a piano + violin duet. Unfortunately, this is not the full version of the song (it’s missing the lyrics for Revelation), and there are too many violin pauses. If worse comes to worst, I think I might need to ask my violin teacher to help me transcribe the sheet music for a full violin solo by ear.
The beautiful part of this song starts from 03:44 as the violins start to crescendo. It is a perfect contrast to the lyrics at that point, where Azura is singing about the dark path of Nohr (i.e. “Night breaks through the day…” ; “… Even the thorn in your heart, in time it may become a rose.”). The violins then take over from 04:08 with a short but emotionally stirring solo. THIS is what I want to replicate on my violin. I’ve only started to learn how to channel emotion and volume on my strings through placement of the bow, so it’s going to take a long while before I can reach this level.
A song from a videogame is inspiring me to master the violin. Sometimes I wonder why I take videogames so seriously.