Listen To Music!

by Rachel Sliker, Violin & Viola Instructor @ The Lesson Studio

Violin/Viola Instructor Rachel Sliker

Rachel Sliker, The Lesson Studio

We all know how important practicing is in order to improve on the violin, but I cannot stress how important it is for your musical development to listen to music. Sometimes it is as helpful to listen to a recording as it is to get out your violin and play. You will absorb musical nuances just like you absorb a language simply by listening to it. Hearing music will also inspire you to practice. When I am feeling uninspired, nothing is better for firing me up than listening to my favorite musicians (they aren’t always violinists).

Put on a recording while you are doing your chores, cooking, or riding in the car. Surround yourself with music as much as you can. Try to reserve some time out of your day to do nothing but listen to music. Sit or lie down, take away any distractions, turn up the volume and just immerse yourself in the sound.

If you don’t have any recordings of violinists, they are worth investing in. Here is a short list of famous violinists to check out. You can start with them but I encourage you to seek out the ones that move you. YouTube is a wonderful tool for finding new inspiration!

Classical– Fritz Kreisler, David Oistrakh, Joshua Bell, Hilary Hahn, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg

Fiddle– Martin Hayes (Irish), Bruce Molsky (old-time), Aubrey Haynie (bluegrass), Mark O’Conner (Bluegrass and Classical), Stephane Grappelli (Swing)

In addition to listening to recordings, I strongly recommend practicing with recordings. They can be your best teacher when your teacher is not in the room. Many of the best musicians from the 20th century mastered  their instruments by playing along with records. First, try this. Pick a song that you know and love – one that you can sing along with because you know it so well. Turn up the volume on your best speakers and play along. Just use your ear, and play what you feel. If you are having trouble playing what you want, try singing first and then playing what you’ve sung. The most important thing is that you are feeling the music. Don’t worry if you aren’t playing the “right” notes. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but if keep an open mind and leave your self-judgement outside. When you do know the right notes, the next step is to capture every nuance of the performer. Try to play exactly the way they play. This may seem uninventive and plagiaristic, but the best way to master your instrument is to imitate the masters.

Whenever you can, attend performances of live music. No recording can capture the energy and spirit that you will feel when you watch musicians in person performing for a live audience. Whether it’s just a street performer that catches your eye, a band at a local coffee shop or bar, or the Metropolitan Opera, you will come away from those experiences a better musician yourself!

For more information about taking lessons with Rachel Sliker at The Lesson Studio, call 303-543-3777.

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