Top tips

Top tips

Reading the rosin discussion has got me to suggest a top tips thread in which we could offer various tips/suggestions about our instruments.
I therefore give my top tip for 2001: since I tied a small piece of string to the scroll of my fiddle to hang it on a nail in the wall I end up playing much more than when I kept the thing in its case.

Re: Top tips

I like Will’s of keeping his instruments out by his desk to play while he’s waiting for the computer to finish doing whatever it’s doing. I don’t do it all the time, but it’s been very good when I have -- lots more practicing that way.


Re: Top tips

Old practice tip I’ve heard from both guitar and piano teachers (probably works for any instrument):

Working on a really difficult passage? Break it into individual notes (or chords). Play the first note, take your hands completely off the instrument, then play the second note, take your hands off again, then play the first and second notes in a row. Repeat for the second and third, then the thired and fourth. Now do it for all 4 notes, first alone then together. Keep this up for the whole passage, making sure to play entire sections every few notes so you don’t keep it “chopped up” in your head.

This works really well for difficult chord progressions on guitar.


Bottom tips

In the same vein, if you’re stuck trying to get a passage right, try changing the rhythm, “hornpipe” it, or play in 3s. Sometimes this does wonders to get you out of a rut.

When i use Jeff’s tip above, it helps me to do it backwards: get the ending of the phrase right first, then add the middle, then the beginning.

I think these things work by taking out attention out of the problem and allowing us to attack the phrase as if it were a completely new one.

Mandolin Tip

Al l the fiddle players were talking about how dramatic it is to have rosin flying off your bow, well it’s nothing compared to having your pick fly out of your hand and land in someone’s pint. Not only does it impact rather dramatically on your playing, but you’ll prabably end up in a fight!
Well, after years or searching I’ve found the perfect pick (or plectrum as I like to call them) - the F1 (see - with whom I have no affiliation whatsoever) . Maybe you’ve come accross this thing before, but if you haven’t its worth checking out. I find not only does it give me a better grip, it also attacks the strings at a better angle than I have been able to achieve with a regular pick.
Sub-tip : I modify my F1 in the following way - first I scratch up the gripping surfaces with a sharp point , this gives me a better grip; second I fold up some saran wrap (or similar, I actualy use ‘Parafilm’, but thats not so easy to get unless you are or know a laboratory scientist) and stick it in between the curved and flat parts of the pick. This thickens the pick and your thumb and fingers get less cramped, and it also stops the clicking sound you can get from this pick when the two parts rattle off each other. Seriously, try this pick - you’ll never go back!

Posted by .

Re: Top tips

I know of a classical guitarist who broke a nail on his picking hand right before a recital and decided to try a fake nail. All went well until he was playing a particularly energetic passage and the nail flew off, hitting an audience member in the face!

Re: Top tips - Whistling

Thou shalt not raise (or lower) a finger unless you absolutely have to. I can’t express how much this has improved my playing and speed when I learned that you don’t HAVE to lift the high finger to get to a high D, and that in so many cases you can play almost any note with the bottom fingers down.