Lora Staples - beginning violin and fiddle expert
Beginning Violin And Fiddle
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Lora Staples' latest beginning violin and fiddle videos
About Lora Staples
Lora StaplesLora Staples began learning the violin in 5th grade in public school through the traditional system. This system combines reading notes and violin techniques for beginners. Four years later, Lora heard about the Suzuki method and regretted that she hadn't learned the violin using this method. However, this motivated her to practice more to reach the level of and compete with children who had learned through the Suzuki method.
Although music was a challenge to Lora, her father always supported her and told her that if she truly wanted something, she would be willing to work for it. Lora diligently followed this advice, bringing her violin everywhere so that she wouldn't miss an opportunity to practice. She continued her hard work until she received her Master's Degree in violin performance.
Lora was able to achieve her dreams of full-ride scholarships, membership to a professional orchestra as principal second violin, and solos with various orchestras.
Lora received an opportunity to teach another violinist's studio of students. She had to learn the Suzuki approach to teach her new students and became convinced that it is the most effective and advantageous way for beginners to learn music.
The most important advice that Lora learned throughout the years and wants to share with students is that success only comes when you believe in yourself.
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Questions, Comments, Requests:

RENNIE
Hi Laura,
I am 20 years old and I am from India. It has just been 3 months from the day I started my violin playing. I really don't have a Western classical violin teacher. The major problem which I am facing is that my bow is bouncing and shaking. I improved a bit by viewing some youtube videos. But, still I find my bow shaking especially when i do down stroke. So, please give me a perfect solution for this. If you had already posted videos on this please send me the link and thank you for all your videos and support.
reply
Lora * VSM MEMBER *
Hi Rennie,
Here is a youtube video I did on that concept. Have you already viewed it?https://youtu.be/PSBMI1ITe6U
But here are some other thoughts. (I am VERY familiar with this problem, because I struggled personally with it even into my years of playing professionally. It was so frustrating.
Here are two things that contribute HUGELY to the unwanted bounce, (and both of these things are new discoveries since I did the video)
1) too hard of an attack on down bow (it causes your bow to "pop a wheelie")
2) too stiff of a bow hand (our curled fingers and colle' motion helps to cushion the down bow attack)
Things you can do to help, specifically on the down-bow strokes:
1) Use colle' (but not TOO MUCH....too much will also cause a spastic bow change and will cause the bounce)
2) Learn to engage your pinky at the frog....pinky adds balance and prevents those klutzy bow changes
3) Tilt the bow as you approach the frog (just from the lapping to the ferrule). As you change from up-bow to down-bow, the tilted bow gives you a nice blade of hair, and a little bit of cusion, AND IT PUTS YOUR PINKY ON TOP, which assists you with #2 above. This also prevents the problem of too hard of an attack.
Rennie, I think these tips will TOTALLY solve your problem.
Please keep me posted. (I am sorry for the delayed reply! The owner of VSM just emailed me to tell me you had written....I missed the notification)
Marguerite Chippendale
Dear Lora,
When do we shift from 1st position to 3rd position and back again.
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Lora * VSM MEMBER *
Marguerite,
Have you figured out the answer to your question? I bet you have already figured it out! Basically, we can shift from any position TO any position at ANY TIME of our choosing.
But to give you a guideline:
On the E string, you would shift after 2nd finger, (G) and you would play the next note (A) with a 1st finger. That would put you in 3rd position, and would allow you to play two notes that are too high for 1st position. The notes are C and D.
On ANY STRING, the most common time to shift from 1st position to 3rd position is after 2nd finger. So we play 0, 1, 2-shift-1, 2, 3, 4
I hope you are still working on your violin!
Noranne
can't seem to get the tunes that you mention when applying drones in your video
Pam
I have been working on intonation while playing Arioso in G. No matter how hard I work, when I come back to the tune, I make the same intonation mistakes. I can "hear" what is correct, and I can correct the mistake, but I can't convince my muscles to find the correct pitch on the first try. I try to coach myself, reminding myself that on THAT D note I need to stretch my third finger a little further, or that on THAT C natural I need to tuck my 2nd finger a little further, but I can't make it "stick." Is this just a matter of practice?
reply
Lora * VSM MEMBER *
Pam,
What is your instinct telling you now that a year has passed since your question?
Yes, it is a matter of practice.
It's not a matter of just learning the correct spot, and then we are able to nail it every time after. It is a matter of little by little gaining better precision. First, we might miss the note by a meter. Then we might miss the note only by a centimeter. Then, we miss the note by a millimeter. And eventually, we are SO CLOSE to the right spot most of the time, that it is called "good intonation". So, think Precision and Accuracy. (one means that we hit our target more often...the other means our average is closer to our target. It takes BOTH to gain good intonation, and it comes little by little...and requires attentive ears.
margie
how do you do a 2 octave f major arpeggio?
reply
Lora * VSM MEMBER *
Hi Margie
Great question. In order to play a TWO octave F major arpeggio, you will have to shift out of 1st position. There are MANY fingerings you can choose, and I would refer you to the book here on Virtual Sheet Music called "Basics of Violin Playing" by F. Ferrari. It has a FANTASTIC section on scales and arpeggios with fingerings!

But, let me try to convey the fingering I would use for a 2-octave F Major arpeggio:

F-A-C this is the 1st octave, played 2 on D, 4 on D, 2 on A

F-A-C-F this is the 2nd octave, plus the top "F" For this octave, I jump all the way up to 1st finger on the A string in FIFTH POSITION!!! That's a leap from 1st position to 5th position, but it is remarkably easy with a little practice

Once you are in 5th position, you just play:
1 on A F
3 on A A
1 on E C
4 on E F

Then take the same fingering down. So here's the whole thing:

2-4-2 BIG SHIFT 1-3-1-4

Then read that backwards to come back down.

But really, if you get the book "Basics of Violin Playing", it will explain scales and arpeggios very nicely!

Good luck to you!
Ivan
Lora I was wondering if you give personal violin lessons, or do you just do the online lessons? if you do teach violin one on one then I would like to know how I can sign up? I am not really interested in taking online lessons.
reply
Lora * VSM MEMBER *
Hi Ivan, I do teach private webcam lessons. I have a bit of a waiting list, but I am very diligent about working my way down the list! Please email me at info@reddesertviolin.com and I will get you on my waiting list and give you all the details. I appreciate the faith you place in me! Talk to you later.
Dave March
Hi Lora,

Just watched your YouTube video on "tonalizations". Been LOVING your lessons! You impart such wisdom and warmth. BTW, I think you're being poetic when you refer to finger placement in "nanometers". Because, literally, a nanometer is a billionth of a meter - at the molecular scale of things. But it gave me a chuckle :-)
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Lora * VSM MEMBER *
Dave, it is a rare person who even understands what a nanometer is! Maybe I exaggerated a wee bit....perhaps it's only micrometers....but we are still talking VERY SMALL! -
Helen Robson
Hi Lora,
I have difficulty on the G string on my violin with relaxing my hand and reaching for notes, any tips you can give me I would greatly appreciate. Grade 3 standard.
reply
Lora * VSM MEMBER *
Helen, I'm so sorry I did not see this comment until now! I sincerely hope you are still advancing your musical studies! I have just the video for your question. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8w2fiaoUa88
Paste that into your browser. It's my youtube video about playing on the g string. You can also search my channel for "Playing violin with short arms" if you are a short person like me! You will find that helpful!
Again, SO sorry for this delayed reply!
Scotia T. Nutt
Lora,
Your video lessons are great. They're very thorough and present the material in a clearly understandable format. Would you please consider doing a series of videos covering the Bach A minor Violin Concerto BWV 1041. The only video we've been able to obtain that covers this piece is a 'master class' video by a Russian violinist. It seems to be mainly a 'brow beating' session where he's trivializing the interpretive efforts of his young female student and doesn't help us viewers in the mechanics of internalizing this beautiful masterpiece by Bach. Thank you for your lessons, and keep up the good work.
Scotia.
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Lora * VSM MEMBER *
Hi Scotia,
I cringe at the description of the video you are describing. It's all too common. So sad. But times are changing.....even classical music educators are realizing that it doesn't kill the students if you use POSITIVE feedback instead of abuse and belittling!

Bach A Minor, I absolutely love that masterpiece too. (you have good taste!) I cannot predict when I"ll be able to get to it, as I have a long "wish list".....but I will definitely consider it. Thanks for the suggestion!
Mickey Teising * VSM MEMBER *
Good morning,
I haven't played my violin in forty years. I miss it and would like to start again. I am 67. Am I too old? I used to be pretty good (turned down a position with the Toronto Symphony and even attended Congress of Strings in '66).
Thank you for your time.
Harold Teising
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Lora * VSM MEMBER *
Harold! Are you kidding? You are not too old, and there is no time like NOW to get back to it! I like to tell people, "Yesterday is gone, tomorrow is too late, but TODAY is the perfect time to get started!"

Just think in 5 years, you will look back and think, "Man, I am sure glad I started when I did".....whereas, in 5 years, you might also look back and think, "Man, I wish I had started 5 years ago!"

May I suggest you visit my lessons page at www.RedDesertViolin.com/onlinelessons to get started
That page will show you my whole line-up of lessons from total beginner to high intermediate.
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