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Upgrading a violin [Jul. 11th, 2013|12:21 am]
Violinists

violinists

[starrynight]
I've been thinking about upgrading my violin, possibly in a few months. It's not that I hate my current violin, I want to upgrade because I feel like I've made a ton of progress in the five months that I've been playing. I've started the second Bach minuet in my Suzuki book and the consensus is that after the first book, you progress faster. I feel like it may be time to get a better violin. I currently have a Cremona that cost roughly $200. I've been looking at violins in the $900 range.

For the price, my Cremona performs well, but I don't know, I'm really in love with playing the violin and want to have something that has a great sound. I feel like it would motivate me more to play, not that I don't practice, I practice every day, I'm a perfectionist. I also want something that will last me years and years as I progress.

In other news, my home was flooded during hurricane Sandy in October. The ground floor got almost half a foot of water and the room had to be totally redone. Before the hurricane, the room had exposed walls. Now, the room has proper walls and the acoustics in the room is AMAZING. I've designated it as my practice room.

Here's a short demo of the sound/my playing in said room:

http://soundcloud.com/thebunnylady/check-out-the-sound

Thoughts/opinions are welcomed. I think for someone who has been playing for five months, I'm going really well.

ps. when did you decide it was the right time to upgrade your violin?
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: joyfulleigh
2013-07-11 12:35 pm (UTC)
Wow, the acoustics in that room really ARE fantastic! How fun! I used to practice in my bathroom for the same reason, LOL.

I say get the $900 violin if it's in your budget. The $200 one was just to figure out if this was something you like enough to stick with. It sounds like it is, that you've got the bug and want to continue playing for a long time. A better instrument will serve you well until you finish the Suzuki series. Once you're up to the Mozart concertos and beyond, you may want to upgrade again. :)

Definitely have your instructor or other trusted violinist you know check out the violin before you purchase it. Sometimes the prices of violins don't correspond with the sound quality since the combination of feel and sound is so dependent on individual taste.

Best of luck to you, and congrats on your progress thus far!
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[User Picture]From: starrynight
2013-07-11 01:10 pm (UTC)
Right? I absolutely love the sound, I feel like I'm playing in a concert hall :P

The $900 violin is absolutely in my range and yes, I got the $200 violin to test the waters and see if I was going to stick with the violin, which I absolutely am.

I have to say, I really like the Suzuki method. My teacher isn't a certified Suzuki teacher, but she is from Japan and is very familiar with the method. I think it's really helped with technique and progressing to more difficult songs without being overwhelming, if that makes any sense.

I will def. have my teacher check out any possible instruments.
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[User Picture]From: joyfulleigh
2013-07-11 03:04 pm (UTC)
I'm glad Suzuki is working for you. I also started with Suzuki (but I was an itty bitty kid; I've played for 30 years now). Its accessibility is what makes it so successful. BUT, it under-emphasizes sight reading and music theory, both of which are ultimately very important. So I hope you'll forgive me for giving a little unsolicited advice. Please make sure your teacher is having you do sight reading exercises in addition to the Suzuki lessons, and make sure you have a music theory practice book that you're doing on the side (unless you've had a decent dose of music theory before, like if you'd taken lessons on a different instrument previously or something). It will make you a much better-rounded musician in the long run.

Will you post another audio clip once you get your new violin? It would be fun for us to celebrate your progress with you. :)

L.
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[User Picture]From: starrynight
2013-07-11 04:46 pm (UTC)
I've played piano and flute, sight reading isn't a problem. I'm actually pretty good at it, and my teacher has me sight read the music anyway. She is giving me less direction, I feel like that's an improvement. For example, I am learning G major arpeggios in two octaves. Instead of telling me where the notes are, she just left it up to me to figure it out on my own. I did it with no problem.

Now, because I took music theory in high school, I know all the scales on the piano by heart (yay circle of fiths!) but obviously it's a little different on the violin, but I still know the key signatures off the top of my head. That really helps.

Yes, I will record when I get my new violin! I'm looking forward to having a better instrument.

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[User Picture]From: joyfulleigh
2013-07-11 04:57 pm (UTC)
Super! Sounds like your background makes up for what Suzuki lacks, so you'll be in good shape!

My mother is a piano teacher and feels that every human being on the planet should take two years of piano. Regardless of what instrument you end up playing (or, horrors, even if you don't) the knowledge it gives you stays in your brain and makes you smarter. :)

All the best to you.
L.
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[User Picture]From: starrynight
2013-07-13 06:06 pm (UTC)
Ha, your mom is right.

It is a little disappointing Suzuki doesn't emphasize sight reading, but I guess it makes a little sense early in life when you're 4 or 5 and just starting an instrument. That said, there should be a supplement from the Suzuki program specifically designed for sight reading or notation. I lucked out and started with another instrument, so I have a good foundation.
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[User Picture]From: harrietbrown
2013-07-11 04:40 pm (UTC)
I agree with joyfulleigh's unsolicited advice. Playing in an orchestra or other ensemble is great for sight-reading - are there any amateur ensembles that perform in your area, or just get together to play? I also found the "Orchestra Excerpts" series to be helpful with sight reading. It's selections from various orchestral works for the violin (other instruments have their own versions). It might be a little beyond you right now, but it's something to shoot for, if you want to challenge yourself (and I know you do!).

You've learned music theory from playing the piano. It can't hurt to continue with it.

I LOVED the audio clip! The acoustics are phenomenal, and you're doing really well! Great progress!

What the heck, get the $900 violin. I just spent a fortune on clothes, and having a good violin is more important than having more shit to wear!

Edited at 2013-07-11 04:40 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: starrynight
2013-07-13 06:07 pm (UTC)
I'm going to increase my budget to be about $1,200-$1,400. It's a huge jump in price but the quality of violins in that range may be even better.

I found two amateur orchestras, but one charges $80 ever 6 weeks, which I find is a little odd. I'll have to do more research.
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[User Picture]From: harrietbrown
2013-07-14 12:44 am (UTC)
I think if you're really committed to playing the violin, then you should get the best instrument you can afford.

That is odd. You should be able to find an amateur orchestra on Long Island that lets you play for free. On the other hand, it's an expensive proposition to run an orchestra - with rehearsal time and space, sheet music, finding a conductor and a concertmaster adequate to the task - that's what I can think of off the top of my head, so I'm sure there are other factors besides. Still, I would say, keep looking.
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[User Picture]From: starrynight
2013-07-14 12:58 am (UTC)
I'll try. I don't mind paying some money, but $80 every six weeks is a little too much for me.
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[User Picture]From: harrietbrown
2013-07-14 02:09 am (UTC)
According to my calculations, it comes out to about $683 a year - you could pay a month's rent in some places for that.

Good luck with finding an ensemble!
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[User Picture]From: starrynight
2013-07-14 02:17 am (UTC)
Thanks :)

If I don't find one, no worries. Would be kinda cool to play with other people, though.
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[User Picture]From: dinogrrl
2013-07-11 08:25 pm (UTC)
Been so long since I got my violin...*thinks* I'm thinking it was when I switched teachers from the person I started with who wasn't all that good to someone who actually knew what they were doing. I was probably borrowing/renting a violin from my first teacher and needed my own for further studies, and/or I had outgrown the 3/4 size violin and needed a full-size one. So my 'upgrade' was more a purchase of necessity than an actual upgrade. I got a $700 violin from a violinist in one of the local orchestras (well, my parents bought it :p). It's served me well enough over the years, but I should have upgraded to something better long ago. Pooky's a persnickety thing and not up to snuff for the level of playing I got to. Unfortunately, the kind of upgrade I'm looking for would be in the $1500-3000 range, soooo...yeah, not happening soon.

Actually, if/when I do get a newviolin, I'll probably save that $3000 and go for a good Baroque-style violin, since that's where my interests are now. I'll still hang on to Pooky though, just in case.

So anyway, I'd say that if you feel like you need something a step up from what you have now, and your teacher agrees, $900 would probably be the next price level up for you right now. It's worth trying at least a few different violins to find one that agrees with you, since you'll probably have this one for a while.
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[User Picture]From: starrynight
2013-07-13 06:12 pm (UTC)
I've upped my budget to about $1,200-$1,400, after thinking it over. I think something in that range will last me a long, LONG time.

Bach has made me appreciate baroque music, but my interest is primarily music theater and regards to classical, the romantic era. I'm very fond of Paganini, Beethoven, Mozart, etc, so I think whatever violin I get will serve me well unless I completely change the kind of music I'm interested in later on in life.

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[User Picture]From: dinogrrl
2013-07-13 07:13 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it's a lot easier to play Bach on a modern violin than Saint-Saens on a Baroque one :p.
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