Podcast 001: The G’Day Violin Warm-up
Have you ever tried pumping up a bike tire, only to find out that the air you’re working so hard to push in is just escaping out a leak that you can’t even see?
Well, you may not notice it, but you might be leaking a good part of your violin tone. Yeah, that tone you’re working so hard to create, and it’s leaking like a cheap inner tube.
This isn’t about how loud you can play. And it’s definitely not about squeezing or forcing tone out of your instrument. That never goes well.
Keeping all of that in mind, here’s this week’s warm-up routine.
The G’Day Warm-up
Today’s were sharing a violin routine called the G’Day warmup. Not because it’s from Australia, but because this tonal and bow control warmup goes through all 4 strings, G, D, A and E. And actually, we’ll be playing two open strings at once, either G&D, D&A or A&E. No need to use the left hand for this warm-up, and I suggest you use it to help support the violin.
If this is your first time playing on two strings at once, be a little patient, there could be a little bit of a learning curve.
One more thing, this particular warmup comes in three flavors: slow, medium slow and medium fast bows, each played with the bow at an increasing distance from the bridge. Choose the contact point that produces the richest tone and most comfortable control.
Practice Circle Members-Only Video Version appears here:
G’Day (GDAE) Warm-up (3-5 mins) Instructions:
- Carefully tune your violin. We’ll begin on the D/A to A/E string combination. Starting at the frog of your bow, Draw a full 1/2 bow of rich tone on D/A, briefly stop the bow and pivot your bow arm to A/E, then drawing the remainder of the bow.
- Now, keep your bow in place, don’t change your contact point, and reverse bow direction, with 1/2 bow up on A/E, a brief pause, then pivoting back to D/A.
- Repeat a few times and enjoy the buttery feeling of drawing a that rich tone that two strings can produce together.
- Perform the same combination using the G/D and D/A strings. When you feel comfortable, no need to stop the bow between string changes. Just pivot seamlessly between strings.
- Now link the up and down bows seamlessly without a pause, paying special attention to the fluidity and ease within the bow hand when the bow changes directions.
- Finally perform the same motion on a single string of your choice. Go for the same buttery, connected feeling.
Tip: You can this warm-up early in your practice routine to establish great bow technique for your entire session.
Today’s Violin Inspiration
Well, if you play the violin, you don’t have to worry about dealing with your impatience, because my dear friends, your impatience is already dealing with you. More than anything else that’s what your violin can teach you.
Sooner or later you’re going to come across the work of the famous violinist Ivan Galamian. He once spoke about preparing for performances and said, “we tend to do too little, too late.”
He’s speaking truth, folks!
The takeaway is that, so often it takes a lot longer than you might think to reach your true potential on any given piece of music. Be kind to yourself if you’re unhappy with the way something sounds today. Be kind, patient and keep a positive attitude.
Today we’re so often pushed to prepare things far too quickly. If you play in orchestras or do freelance work you can probably relate. Tightening budgets translate to shorter and shorter rehearsal schedules which amount to a lot of stress, and for me, the hollow feeling of performing something long before its truly ready. That’s not the fulfilling experience that drew us to performing in the first place.
In orchestra, you don’t call the shots. But in your own practice, it’s a gift to yourself to take Mr. Galamian’s advice. Whatever you’re practicing, take your time, go deeper and start a lot sooner than you might think is necessary.
A great idea is to play informally for friends and family. Give yourself the space to experience what its like to be on stage.
The bottom line; music is meant to be shared. Practicing performing on stage is equally important to learning your instrument and learning new music. So get out there and play for others. A lot.
But beyond all of that, the one great lesson that our instruments teach us is to be patient with our practice, it’s the wisdom to understand that things will unfold in their own time.
If you’re feeling inspired, I hope you’ll help support this podcast by joining our Practice Circle. Inside the circle you’ll get a clear video demonstration of this week’s practice routine along with access to support for any questions related to the lesson. It’s only $9.95 a month which really helps me with the many costs of running this blog and podcast.
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About the Author
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.