Facepalm! How I Came Back to My Violin Playing Senses

I was reminded about a great truth of violin playing while walking the streets of New Orleans today. (I’m in the city for my son’s wedding)

Strolling around the French Quarter, I heard a faint and hauntingly beautiful violin melody wafting from around the corner. Soon I found myself in front of a NOLA street band, enjoying traditional and jazz standards spun out with beautiful tone and a great sense of style.

I absolutely loved the violinist (as well as the other band members), and stood there transfixed for one song after another.

Then suddenly came my facepalm moment: Why haven’t I been doing more music like this? And why aren’t we all?

These are songs that you can learn and perform in a matter of days, even hours. The technical demands are modest, giving you the time and freedom to work on style and personal touches. It’s a chance to drop all pretense and simply have fun.

If you’re like most people, you’ve got at least a song or two you want to play. A violin piece you want to perform. Maybe even a song set to play in a band.

Finding the right songs for a developing violinist can a bit of an art in itself. Choose well, and you gain incredible forward momentum in your playing. You’ve got something you can play for years to come. You gain more choices and options as a musician.

How to Mess Up Your Relationship with the Violin

I know from my own experience, it’s tempting to choose material that is over your head. When that happens you’re not doing yourself (or your listeners) any favor. Struggling with notes for weeks on end locks you up physically and may even leave you with emotional “scars.”

Sooner or later you begin to dread practicing and performing.

This is how we can end the struggle.

In coming weeks I’ll begin introducing traditional/fiddle tunes that you’ll enjoy learning and playing. The objective is to get us both up and running on several tunes in a short span of time.

We’ll tie together the songs with the warm-ups and violin motions we’ve discussed. You’ll see how things come full circle.

The real fun (and learning) happens when you can take these tunes out into the world. Playing for (and with) others adds an important and enjoyable dimension to your musicianship, as my new found New Orleans friends have taken to heart.

What You Can Do Now

If you’d like to come along on a “song quest,” please do me a favor: Click on this link and take my short survey. Near the end you can let me know what song(s) you’d be interested in learning and/or performing.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you. But for now, I have a father-of-the-groom speech to practice and a son to marry off!

Until we next meet, savor your violin journey.

—Bill A.

Bill Alpert

About the Author

Bill Alpert

Bill Alpert is a performer, teacher and author with a unique focus on personal development and mindfulness viewed through the lens of violin study. Mr. Alpert's resume includes recordings, performances and film scores with artists such as The Moody Blues, Pepe Romero, Tina Turner and Johnny Mathis. The co-founder of the award winning Alpert Studio of Voice and Violin in California, he is professionally active in the American String Teachers Association and the Suzuki Association of America.

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