Interview with Todd Ehle

Virtual Sheet Music Interview No. 2 - November 4th, 2010

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Vasi Klinker on July 17, 2020 @12:06 pm PST
Great video but why can't the screen not be enlarged for better viewing?
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on July 17, 2020 @2:35 pm PST
Thank you, Vasi, glad you liked this interview.

And thank you for reporting the full-screen issue, that was a temporary bug, now fixed. Try again and let me know if you still have problems with it.

Thanks again!

All the best,
Vasi Klinker on July 19, 2020 @10:44 pm PST
Excellent. Thank you so much. I really appreciate the wider screen.

Best Regards,
Jackie C * VSM MEMBER * on July 20, 2020 @9:24 am PST
You are most welcome! Thank you for reporting this issue, we really missed it.

Ramu on June 16, 2014 @8:03 am PST
How to print your how read music on G clef you explained on you tube please. Can you reply
FCO. JAVIER NAVARRO on September 21, 2013 @12:26 pm PST
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on September 23, 2013 @9:22 am PST
Hi Fco. Do you know that piece composer name? Thanks!
FCO. JAVIER NAVARRO on September 23, 2013 @3:20 pm PST
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on September 24, 2013 @10:06 am PST
Thank you for your reply. Yes, that's a copyrighted piece so we cannot currently make our own high quality digital edition, but you can find several different versions of it from the link below:

And possibly more will come!
Will on July 31, 2013 @4:42 am PST
Methode elementaire du violon - Volume 1, Maurice Hauchard
Will on July 31, 2013 @4:40 am PST
A great lesson for a beginner (in addition to etudes of Schradieck, and of course a good teacher) :
Méthode élémentaire du violon - Volume 1 de Maurice Hauchard (in French
Carlos Rocha Medina * VSM MEMBER * on April 14, 2013 @7:44 am PST
I have been violin and viola Teacher at several Universities and Conservatoires in Germany and Colombia, where i am from, and VSM member. I find this kind of information very important and useful. Professor Ehle does it very clear and entertaining.I enjoyed very much watching at.
Linda Ford * VSM MEMBER * on April 2, 2013 @11:55 am PST
This is really great. Thank you FF. What a great place for a 'meeting'!.
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on April 2, 2013 @12:06 pm PST
Thank you Linda! Please, feel free to ask any additional question you may have.
Rajan * VSM MEMBER * on February 23, 2013 @12:12 pm PST
A very wonderful interview with two great violinists! Very clear explanations and detailed explanations. Thanks for this great interview. It is really a masterclass I should say. Experienced Violinist will benefit greatly from this as well. Thanks again.
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on February 23, 2013 @4:21 pm PST
Thank you Rajan, I really appreciate that! Please, feel free to ask any questions you may have, just reply to this posting. Glad to help any time!
Bjorn Insulander on July 23, 2012 @2:01 pm PST
Playing cello since I was 11.
Playing violin since 59.
Now I am quite clever at 60 !!!
Thanks Todd.
Lift on October 5, 2011 @3:31 pm PST
What a cool post! I am just a beginner in community management/marketing media and trying to learn how to do it well - resources like this blog are very helpful. As our company is based in the US, it's all a little bit new to us. The example above is something that I worry about as well, how to show your own actual enthusiasm and share the fact that your product is beneficial in that case.
Questions selected for this interview: 10
 1. Is there a method for memorizing sheet music?by Jose
 2. Are there any good exercises you can suggest to aid relaxation in the bow arm or hand?by debndevon
 3. What exercise do you use to stretch your 4th finger so it is not flat?by Carole Silva
 4. How many hours a week should a beginner violinist practice?by Greg Ronalds
 5. How can one reteach a student who has developed bad bow-hand habits under someone else's instruction?by Member
 6. What is the best way to approach and practice double, triple and quadruple stops?by MTsui333
 7. How do I regulate my vibrato so it remains even? I know it's all in the relaxation of the arm, but do you have any other tips?by sarah powles
 8. What is the best way to teach independent fingering?by NellieVic
 9. Is there any specific book you can suggest for learning violin basics?by Tony De Rosa
 10. What do you consider to be the most important daily violin exercise?by John Parkinson
Other questions posted but not selected: 46
 1. I'm without a teacher, can play beyond intermediate level. Any sugesstions 4 furthr self teaching?by Kevin
 2. Ca you discuss tendonities and other muscular diseases? How can we avoid them?by Spyros
 3. How does one do a fast up-bow and a down-bow staccato?by V
 4. Until what age do you think the Suzuki method is suitable for students?by Hilary Fins
 5. What kind of repertoire do you suggest for a beginner student?by John Walters
 6. Any suggestions to tune the instrument easily?by Jenna Finland
 7. what percentage of time should I dedicate to working on technique seperately from pieces?by sarah
 8. Have your Youtube videos and their reception affected your teaching and playing methods? And how?by Daniel
 9. How do you teach sautille?by Gail Tivendale
 10. I play the piano, what is the best way to accompany violinist? When I practise the music on my own?by dora96
 11. The best daily excercise for left hand warmup?by Jack K.
 12. When we see trill for the double stops, do we have to trill on both strings.?by Vorachai
 13. What exercise would you use for proper bowing (proper movement of arm and wrist)?by Cindy
 14. How does violinist improve their musicianship and their understanding of music theory in general?by MTsui333
 15. Are there the best exercise to increase the bow speed?by Jose
 16. Can a 50-something adult ever get a good violin sound?by Elizabeth
 17. are there any tips on how to play a bunch of staccato sixteenth notes without squeeking or croaking?by Member
 18. Is it better a carbon or a regular bow to start learning?by Nick J.
 19. how to improve speed and quality of trill?by Volodimir
 20. How did you start making videos for YouTube?by Fabrizio
 21. Do you make any money being on Youtube as Professor V?by Rob
 22. Tips to figure out the sound/intonation of the high notes of the fingerboard (E string) quickly?by V
 23. What violin do you play?by hackb0y294
 24. After how long would you advise to move up from the first position?by Jonas Pitt
 25. What relaxation exercises would you suggest during practicing sessions?by Diana Soy
 26. How would you check intonation in all positions?by Kendra Akers
 27. What is the best way to approach a new piece?by Josiah Akers
 28. Any tips on playing the Introduction & Tarantella (Sarasate) and Wieniawski Concerto #2?by V
 29. How does one keep going (practicing 4-5 measures a day) until one finishes a piece?by V
 30. Do you find more difficulty in teaching a beginner from a non-musical family background?by A. H Wilson
 31. In your Wohlfahrt No 1 is your elbow a little stiff in order to keep the wrist still?by Bud Scott
 32. How do you overcome the loneliness of practicing for hours by yourself?by Carole
 33. How to avoid to have tendinitis?by Jim Tor
 34. What is the best way to memorize notes when you are switching from Violin to Viola on aregular basisby Veronica Halhead-Schopp
 35. Do you recommend Sevick for double stops ?by Harvey+Wechsler
 36. Do you have any tips for motivating a students that are experiencing a bottle-neck in their progressby sarah
 38. How can I convert an "airy"sound to a "full" sound? Does it just depend on the violin or the stringsby Theres Saunders
 39. What kind of rosin do you use?by James Gerry
 40. What can I use to teach tunning to a lot of students at a time in an Orchestra program?by Arturo Gonzalez, COSTA RICA
 41. At what age would you start working on the Bach's Sonatas and Partitas?by Jack K.
 42. What are some good techniques when playing fast "sharp" articulate fast notes (Vivaldi Winter)?by Jarrett K
 43. How would discuss working on trills in the Kreutzer Etude 40? What happens between the notes ?by Linda
 44. How important do you believe having perfect pitch is in violin playing? Can one be great without it?by Ibraheem Zahran
 45. Any thoughts on learning on a electric violin like the NS CR 5, with the 5th string?by Newell
 46. When do you sleep? : )by Jamie

Fabrizio Ferrari: Hello and welcome to this second Virtual Sheet Music interview. My name is Fabrizio Ferrari, and our guest today is Todd Ehlejoining us via Skype from Texas. Hello Todd, and thank you for joining us.

Todd Ehle: Hello, Fabrizio. Thank you for having me.

FF: Todd is an Associate Professor of violin at the Del Mar College in Corpus Christi, Texas where he has taught since 1999. But, Todd is also known as Professor V on YouTube for his very popular violin lessons channel, with hundreds of instructional videos, and counting almost 4 million views since 2007. His channel is actually among the most famous YouTube channels on violin learning.

Well, whats to say Todd, congratulations! Looks (like) you are a really talented and famous violin teacher, which is great.

TE: Thank you! Thats an honor. I appreciate it. I think they call it micro-fame though. I havent been recognized on the street yet, soĶ

FF: Oh, yeah, sure! WellĶ my first natural question is: How did you get the idea to start a YouTube channel about violin lessons?

TE: Well, one of my jobs at the collegeDel Mar College where I teachis to recruit students. And I had an idea that I could make some instructional videos and then go out to the local schools and direct them towards these videos. Because there are many, many more students than I could personally teach one on one instruction every day. So I had this idea, and I started making the videos and right away people started paying attention. But they werent the local kids. They were other people who then started asking me questions: How do I do this? How do I do that? And so, I started responding to those videos or to those questions by making other videos.

So, my initial project was not very organized. It was bow hand, violin hold, and then I think they wanted vibrato. I mean, we jumped right to it. So, it wasnt in order. So, since then Ive gone back and tried to put an order system to it, which is on my own website,, but not on the YouTube sites. So, youll notice that things are a little chaotic, if youre trying to navigate your way through.

FF: I understand. Its probably like a sort of work in progress, right?

TE: Absolutely.

FF: All the time, I understand. Thats the way it usually goes on the Internet. So, since the time you started this project on YouTube, how (has) your life actually changed?

TE: You know, my life actually changed before. And, I think it was part of the reason I did this.

About six-and-a-half years ago, I developed some real neck problems. AndĶits neck and shoulder. And, it made it almost impossible for me to keep performing, and really difficult to even practice. So, one of the things I wanted to do was still be able to communicate with my students. And, I made some videos. And, part of it, in the back of my mind, was: Lets get these things recorded so I can document what I know before I cant play at all. Because I was actually told by a doctor, he said, You need to go into administration and stop playing. SoĶuh, I did not take his advice. And I have, with therapists, actually been recovering some, and Im playing more. But the videos changed my life only moderately. I will say at first, I was on the computer a lot more because I was trying to answer questions. Finally, I gave up with that. Its too hard to answer so many specific questions. And then, you know, whats very easy to show is often very difficult when you write it outto give just the right information. So I finally blocked it, so that they couldnt send me messages personally. People can comment, but I am not accepting question after question.

FF: I understand, because looking at the number of subscribers you have, it would have been probably really overwhelming.

TE: The night I did it, I think, I checked my personal messages and there were 66 questions and I just thought: I have to stop.

FF: Its a lot!

TE: Yeah!

FF: And I was wondering, do you have any special, interesting or amusing experiences you got through your channel you would like to share with us today?

TE: The funniest thing about the channel was when I created it. It certainly was just to have a username on YouTube. And I picked Professor V because I wanted something I would be able to remember. So, I thought: Well Im professor of violinĶand it had nothing to do with the idea that I was going to teach. My friends, they make fun of me and call me Professor Five.

I have had some pretty fascinating emails from people, even in Iraq during the war. Not soldiers, but someone trying to learn violin in Baghdad.

FF: Really?

TE: Ķcommunicating with him during the invasion. No, it was after the invasion, butĶ It was, you know, very touching to me that this person was just trying to do something so human and so important to me, and we were corresponding. So, Ive had a lot of things like that.

FF: So, moving to a more general perspective, Im sure that our audience would like to learn more about your philosophy of teaching. Would you like to tell us about that?

TE: It has changed over the years. And of course, I have many different types of students. I have very, very young students all the way through college students. And, to have one philosophyĶ At first, I thought, well thats impossible. But you know in the end, I came up with: My goal is to inspire the love of learning. And I want to show that the process of learning is even more important than the final result.

FF: I agree.

TE: You can spend your whole life with this.

FF: I agree with that completely. And do you plan to keep adding new videos to your YouTube channel for the years to come?

TE: I havent decided. You know, the things that are there came very easily for me, because this is information that I share with students every single day. Now, there are other things in my mind that I am sharing, but not all of it translates well into a 5-minute video. So, I havent really decided if Im going to keep going. I dont want it to just be silly things.

FF: I understand, because Im a violinist myself. I would be afraid of running out of topics.

TE: Right, right.

FF: After a whileĶafter more than 100 video lessons that youve already done.

TE: You can run out of great ideas, theres no doubt. I dont want to just throw things out there. I think that I need to be careful at this point and really think it through before I continue.

FF: Yeah, sure. That sounds great to me. And so we all look forward to watching and learning from you, Todd. Thank you.

For everyone interested in learning more, please visit to find links to Professor Ehles video lessons, to get in touch with him or to subscribe to his wonderful YouTube channel.

Now, its time to move on with the questions we have been collecting over the past three weeks from our audience. Weve got, as usual, over 50 questions. Due to this the fact, we let our audience vote on these questions, and we picked the questions with the most votes to ask you today, Todd. Of course, they are all questions about violin technique and violin learning. And as a violinist myself, Im eager to hear your answers.

So the first voted question is from Jose who asks, Is there a method for memorizing sheet music?

TE: Well, I cant give you a method. I can just tell you what I do myself and how I instruct my students. And the first piece of advice is: Dont wait until youve learned the piece to begin memorization, because you will become very confident with the sheet music. And then, when you try to wean yourself off, there is that sense of Oh, I cannot play it anymore. Its very disturbing.

So, I would say from the very beginning: If you have sheet music on your stand, you can play through it a couple of times, then just do a measure, turn around and play that measure. Maybe play it ten times, so that you put it in your muscle memory, in your aural memory, turn around, look at it, put it in your visual memorythere are three types of memory. Then do the next measure. And then maybe, you do the same process and then try and play the two together. So, I break it into sections, maybe a measure at a time, maybe a phrase, a line, however your mind works, but think of them as train cars that youre coupling together, putting all these sections together.

Now, I mention the three types of memory. Its aural, what you hear; visual, what you see; and kinesthetic, which is your muscle memorywhat does it feel like. So, some people have very highly developedĶuh, one of these or another. The sense of, say, visual memory is very strong, so they can look at the page, see it, and then you have maybe a photographic memory. Others really struggle with one of those, so then you want to try and learn it in more than one manner.

I had a professor that used to say, If you can lay in your bed or sit in a chair and play through the entire piece just in your mindknow every shift, every bowingthen you really have it. So, those are some ideas. But I try and do it just a tiny bit at a time, so Im not overwhelmed. One measure, turn aroundthats not too much informationthen repeat it, and then do the next measure. And just chip away at it every day.

FF: Its a great tip, thanks. The second question is by Debndevon who asks, Are there any good exercises you can suggest to aid relaxation in the bow arm or hand?

TE: Well, maybe I can show you something [taking the violin]. A lot of students will come to me and then I will see tension in their bow hand, maybe this peak or a collapsed pinky and rigid fingers. And then when they start to play, I see this the whole time. And the first thing that I want to say to you is to let the bow weight be held by the violin.

So if you look at my pinky: I come down curved, its relaxed, Im on the string. When I lift it, I feel the weight in that pinky. When I set it down, my pinky is then relaxed. I usually keep it on the stick, but if you tap your fingers, youre completely relaxed and the weight of the bow is being held by the violin. And then you can create artificial weight by adding the weight of the arm at the frog or as you work your way towards the tip, youll have to start feeling the thumb go up and the first finger come down, so you can get the stick into the hair or into the string here. But you dont have to add a tremendous amount. As you bow from here, you add a little more, a little more, a little more.

I show an exercise where you start with all four fingers on the string, totally relaxedlike tap your fingersthen as you bow, you lift your fingers. Pinky goes up, then your ring (finger) goes up and then your middle finger goes up. Then you turn it around and you add, add, add. So youre teaching that rolling sensation or the transfer of weight from all four fingers to the first finger and then back to all four. But again, I let the instrument support the weight of the bow.

FF: Wonderful. So, the third question is by Carole Silva who asks, What exercise do you use to stretch your fourth finger so it is not flat?

TE: Well, I dont try and stretch anything. That concerns me. That would create tension. I dont believe you can make the hand size much larger. So, what I do is I adjust the hand position. And really, its the thumb. But there are a couple of ways to think about it.

I teach my students to support the instrument betweenĶtheres a bone, right there, above the crease or the knuckle on the thumb. So, I rest the violin there, and then on the other side as well. So, its that point. And theres a little space underneath it. Now, that is a starting point. But if you look, I could actually set it where I cant even reach my pinky. Or, I can adjust my thumb and my elbow a little bitI can come lower, I can come higher, depending on the size of your hand. So, what you can do is actually put your fourth finger down first and then place your other fingers. That should set your thumb into proper place. Be careful not to have this way out here, though. I like to maintain contact with both sides of the fingerboard. Place your fingerĶ

But look, if you have a big hand, your thumb can be much higher than if you have a little hand, okay? So, if I see some girl, a very small child, who is having trouble reaching her pinky, I may have that thumb quite a bit under the neck. Lets see if you can see it thereĶlike that. But if you have very large hands, like say Itzhak Perlman, or even Heifetz, his thumb comes up here. So, really concentrate on the placement of your thumb, but do not distort your wrist when you come under. Dont let that wrist pull outtheres a risk of carpal tunnel syndrome if you bend your wrist.

FF: And, I like your concept where everyone is different.

TE: Everyone is different, right.

FF: Yeah, absolutely.

TE: Okay.

FF: The fourth question is by Greg Ronalds who asks, How many hours a week should a beginner violinist practice?

TE: Well, I try to break it into each day, not into hours per week. Initially, you might try just practicing the lengths of your lesson. So, if youre taking a 15minute lessonĶsay the child is six, 15 minutes thats an attention span for a six-year-old. If you have a half-hour lesson, start with that. What you should do then isĶI mean really, what it comes down to is the amount of concentration. Once youve lost concentration or focus, youre done. You should stop. If you want to come back again the same daysay later in the daythats okay. As long as you have focus, you can actually keep progressing.

So, I dont say, You must do this amount. I know some teachers that do. And mostly its to get students who arent motivated to actually get their hands on the instrument. But, I would just say that as your concentration skills develop, the amount of practice time will develop. Also, you want to ease into it physically too, because you dont want to create tendinitis or injury by suddenly practicing a lot more.

FF: Sure, sure, absolutely. The fifth question is by one of our members who asks, How can one re-teach a student who has developed bad bow-hand habits under someone elses instruction?

TE: Well, the first thing is that you need to know what youre trying to achieve. If someone says to you, I want you to hold it in a Russian-bow hold. Youve been doing Franco-Belgian, and I want Russian. Or, vice versa. You must know exactly what it is the teacher wants. Once you have a clear idea, then you can work to achieve that.

With the bow hand, I have a student work with a pencil first, and then with a bow. I hold the bow this way [demonstrating vertical bow position], not this way [demonstrating horizontal bow position], because it feels so much lighter when you point it toward the ceiling. Once you add the weight to the pinky [in horizontal bow position], it becomes harder and many students start clutching. So, develop here [in vertical bow position]. Once you can do that, remember how we set it on the instrument and we let the violin support the weight?

So, say youre trying to work on a piece of music and change your technique at the same time. Thats doing two things at once, which is pretty complicated. So, what you might do is, again, isolate one measure. Practice that one measure. Stop. Check your bow hand. Has it changed from what you think your new teacher wants you to be doing? If so, reset it. Do another measure. Stop and check it. If you can get to one measure, try doing two. Try doing a phrase. And then keep checking it.

What I used to do was get a piece of paper and write down the technical things I was trying to achieve: point one, point two, point three. I didnt do very many, because its very easy to become overwhelmed. But I would think about one or two things, and take that piece of paper and tape it to my music stand. So, then Im looking at the music, but whenever my eyes just wandered, and I saw that point, then I would think about that point. So, it was a trigger to remind me to work on that. And then, as that became something I was confident with, I crossed it off, worked on the others, or put on a new piece of paper with all my goals up there. And so that way, you slowly can start to conquer all of these issues. I also would sayĶsay youre in an orchestra at school and the music isnt hard in a certain spot. Instead of just daydreaming, you can think about your bow. Practice during a rehearsal, if the music is easy. Dont just sit there.

FF: Yeah, sure, I agree. Thats a great tip. Thank you. The sixth question is by MTsui333 who asks, What is the best way to approach and practice double, triple and quadruple stops?

TE: Yes, double stops certainly are a challenge and most of my students struggle with them. I would say first, that you have to be able to play on two strings and maintain a beautiful tone. Its very easy to go out of tune or be scratchy or create squeaks with the right hand. And that has nothing to do with the left hand and tuning of the fingers. I can bend the string flat by pressing. So practice open strings, just for the small bow at first, then start to extend the amount of bow. Try to sustain it through the bow changes. Once youre comfortable with that, I believe double stops are about hand patterns or the hand frame and about the interaction of the two notes.

A great trick [taking the violin], and I dont believe it will work well through Skype, I doubt you can hear it. But take your first finger and play on the A string, youll play a B. And then tune it, say, with open E, so its a perfect fourth. And tune it until its very smooth. So, if theyre too flat, youll hear a graininess or a distortion. Too sharp, same problem. So, play your one with open E until it totally sounds smooth to you. Dont move it. Roll your bow. Leave that one in the exact same place. Roll your bow over so youre playing (open) D and that first finger together. And then try and adjust it so it sounds smooth with the open D. Youll have to go lower, and what youll notice from that is the interaction with the lower string requires a slightly lower finger, which means you cant just say theres one place to put your one down. So with a double stop, we do something called just intonation. That is to actually eliminate beats. You dont have to do it, but its a great way to train your ear. I heard a trumpet player say once, he said about string players. He said, String players can hear the grass grow. And I believe its because were listening to the interaction of notes.

FF: Absolutely.

TE: When you start doing more than double stops, say you go to triple stopsĶ What the stop actually means is stopping three notes. So, technically playing an open string isnt a stop, but it doesnt matter. If you think about G Major Mozart, you know [playing the violin]Ķright?

The important thing here would be first of all, the hand pattern. So my B and my G create what feels like a half-step. Theyre touching. Now if you have really thick fingers, theyre going to be touching tighter than if you have thin fingers. So you use your ear to make that determination, but they create a touching pattern. And then you have to learn how to do the bow stroke. Now, I like to think of the bottom two notes. There are only three notes, right? But I play the open D with a first finger on the A stringI play those togetherand then I roll my bow to the upper strings, which is a one and a twoone on the A string, two on E stringand then I play them together.

Now when you string cross, you can move your bow out a little bit towards the fingerboard, so that the angles arent so severe. Use some bow speed. And I try and raise my elbow just a little bit, so I dont roll this wayI roll that way. And I try and keep my bow on the upper two strings and it gives the illusion that Im playing all three.

And you would say the same thing about quadruple stops. You cant play all four at once. I cant even play all four at once if I go all the way out to the fingerboard. Its still going to be a rolling motion. But what I dont want to do is just roll right off of it. So, I feel the elbow come up. I hope that makes sense. So, it is hand pattern, it is the relationship of the two notes and then its how the bow crosses the string.

FF: Its perfectly clear. Unfortunately, via Skype, the audio of courseĶ

TE: The audio is bad.

FF: Ķdoesnt do it much justice.

TE: Thats what I was expecting.

FF: Yeah, exactly. So, the next question is by Sarah Powles who asks, How do I regulate my vibrato so it remains even? I know its all in the relaxation of the arm, but do you have any other tips?

TE: Right. Well, the first thing I would say is, when youre trying to regulate vibratoĶmany times the first thing youll do is squeeze the arm muscles and tighten up, trying to control it. And its very dangerous, you know. The tension of the arm always travels up the shoulder and into the neck and the head. And so, you want to do it in a relaxed manner and just find what works for you.

I heard or read that Paul Rolland said, an artistic vibrato was five to nine cycles in a second. Okay? That gives you a little leeway. But even five per secondĶand you can test this by setting your metronome to 60, and see how many oscillations you can get between the clicks. That doesnt really teach you how to control it, but it does show you what youre doing.

So, if you are too wide, try instead of rotating deeper into the pad of the finger, try and stay a little closer to the bony tip. Maybe that will narrow it down. If youre too narrow, you then want to transfer weight from here [the bony tip], deeper into the finger. And there has to be some flexibility in that first finger, in that first knuckle, and that will give you a wider sensation.

Now, when I was at Eastman, I remember my teacher saying, If you are too wide, she saidĶI say this with tremendous caution. I almost hesitated to say it, but Ill tell you what she said. She said, Feel the underside of the finger as not being allowed to open. I told that to another violin professor who said, Thats the worst idea I ever heard, because it immediately creates tension in the hand. So perhaps you can understand that thats just not allowing it to go wider. But then just try and do it by not rolling so deep. In the end, use your ear to determine whats going on. You can tell if its wobbly. You can often tell if its too slow.

You can also set your metronome toĶwell, I think 105 is the technical number, but my metronome, I think, goes to one of 104. And, then try and getĶ Remember how I said Paul Rolland said anything between five to nice cycles per second was desirable? If you pick the number in the middle, it would be seven, okay? But to do that, set your metronome to 105, then practice knocking a peg and try and get four motionsfour motions when you set your metronome to 105four motions in between each click. So, that is a goal that would put you right between the five and the nine. Thats seven cycles.

FF: Great tip. The eighth question is by NellieVic who asks, What is the best way to teach independent fingering?

TE: Yeah. That is a hot-button subject. Almost like Healthcare or Social Security. I have known so many people that were so strongly opinionated about this. And personally, I think we do both. I think you do independent and block fingering.

In case you dont know what were talking about, block fingering is where you keep all your fingers down. Independent fingering is where you only leave the finger down that youre using. Okay, so when a student first starts to play, I usually approach with block fingering, so that they start to understand hand frame-like patterns, because on the fingerboard there are no keys, buttons, frets. You have to understand what a whole-step is and what a half-step is. And so, I have them feel a half-step if their hand is big enough. As I said, everybodys got a different size of hand and a very small hand may not even touch for a half step but theyre close, okay?

After that, the problem with keeping all your fingers down is that you can exponentially create tension in the hand and the arm. And then when you try and do vibrato, its very difficult. So when I start to talk about independent fingering, first of all, its important that you keep the old finger down until the new finger begins. And then youre free to lift the old finger. And you dont really want it popping up, you want to keep it close to the string. But I still like to think: What is the distance? So if Im going from one to three, I still like to think: Where would my two be, if I set it down, in the key that Im playing? Say its an F sharp or an Fnatural. I like to think where would it be, so that my hand would always be in tune. And then its easiest to play independent fingers in slow passages with lots of vibrato, so youre free to vibrate. If youre playing very quickly, it doesnt make any sense to lift a finger if youre coming right back to it. So, I hope that clarifies.

FF: Im sure. The ninth question is by Tony De Rosa who asks, Is there any specific book you can suggest for learning violin basics?

TE: Well, okay, I dont know how basic he wants to go.

FF: No idea.

TE: Right. I went to school with a guy name Robert Frost who wrote All for Strings. This is a very well-known method, and if you were at the very beginning, you want All for Strings: Book One for Violin, and it gives you all sorts of information. But its really basic. So you need to understand what it is that youre looking for.

Another great book forĶ Lets see, this is the Principles of Violin Playing, can you see that?

FF: Yeah!

TE: By Ivan Galamian. And this is a fantastic book and I looked on Amazon and you can still get it. But it is not cheap. I went to Meadowmount and bought it at Meadowmount at the summer music camp. I found a four-leaf clover while I was there. I taped it in the book. So its my lucky book.

FF: Yes!

TE: Another great book is called the Teaching of Action in String Playing by Paul Rolland. I looked on Amazon. Its also there. These books are not cheap, though. So you have to expect that. But those two, the Galamian book and the Paul Rolland book are much, much more in depth. Theyll take you farther than say the All for Strings book.

Another nice book is called, The Viola by Henry Barrett. I know its not the violin, but that has some tremendous information. And a lot of violinists play viola, too. And theres some information in here that is not in the others, so I recommend all of those books. Theyre fantastic!

FF: Okay, perfect. Yeah, I just want to mention to our audience that they can find links to these books on your dedicated page, which is

Alright! Lets move on with the last question by John Parkinson who asks, What do you consider to be the most important daily violin exercise?

TE: Thats a good question.

FF: Key question, Id say.

TE: Yes, it is. Well, I can tell you what one of my teachers said to me. And he said it like this. He said, The secretĶ He said to me The secret is practicing trills. Now Im not going to say that its totally true. Im just going to tell you what he said to me, okay? And what he was talking about was the lifting motion from the base knuckle and following the pathway to the fingertip and always hitting it in the same place. Lifting with energy, so that youre not in, in, in. You tap, you lift with energy.

I even heard a famous violinist once say, You should lift twice as fast as you set it down. I dont know how to do that myself, but the point is, youre lifting with energy. But youre tappingĶ And he said to me, It doesnt have to be fast, but it has to be accurate.

Now another professor I studied with said, you could practice trills and try to increase the speed by working in small bursts. So [buzz sound] stop, [buzz sound] stop, [buzz sound] stop. So that youre trying to increase yourI think they call that, twitch muscleyour reflex speed. Thats firing the same muscle over and over and over. I will also say, for those of you that are advanced enough, when I warm up, my goal is to get the pads firm. I dont like the spongy or soft sensation my fingers have in the morning, and I dont want to perform with it that way. So what Ill do is a scale on one string with one finger and Ill go up and back down, and then Ill add the second finger and the do the scale on the second finger go up. Add the third finger. And by the time Im done with that, my fingers have the groove in them and the pads feel solid enough that I feel confident and Im ready to go. If you want to just warm up your vibrato or practice your intonation, slow scales are just the best.

FF: Yes, sure. That actually makes me remember when I used to be a student at the conservatory in Milan in Italy. There were actually two different movements inside the students. There were students that used to do just scales every day and students doing just trills all the day. And I used to belong to the second movement doing trills all the time. And I remember Laura, my wife, she used to be a violinist too, tell me, You should stop doing just trills and maybe also do scales. And, actually thats right. We need actually both.

TE: We need both, yeah.

FF: Yeah, exactly. So thats a pretty funny story.

TE: It is.

FF: So we are done with the questions from our audience, and I have my final personal question which is, Do you have any plans to come here visiting Southern California anytime soon?

TE: Well, I need to come and learn how to surf.

FF: Me too! Maybe we can do it together!

TE: The waves here are too small for real surfing so sure, lets do it. Lets go surfing.

FF: Yes! So, I really hope to meet you personally.

TE: Me, too.

FF: Because it will be a great honor.

TE: That would be very nice.

FF: Alright! It has been a great pleasure. Thank you very much, Todd, for joining us today.

TE: Okay.

FF: And thank you for watching.


Violin e-books and packages
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Basics of Violin Playing
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by Robert Frost & Gerald Anderson
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All For Strings - Violin: Book 1, Book 2, Book 3 Set Buy it on Amazon
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© 1999 Shar Products Co
Principles of Violin Playing and Teaching Buy it on Amazon
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© 1998 Alfred Music Publishing
Principles of Violin Playing and Teaching Buy it on Sheet Music Plus
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© 1996 University of Alabama Press
The Viola: Complete Guide for Teachers and Students Buy it on Amazon
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