Will slurring help me to play faster on violin?

At the FiddleHed monthly office hours, FiddleHed Mary asked, “Will slurring help me to play faster on violin?” Short answer: Yes. Longer answer: it depends on the situation.

Slurring notes, which involves playing two or more notes without lifting the finger(s) in between, can help with playing faster on the violin by allowing for smoother and more efficient movements of the fingers. However, it’s important to note that proper technique, such as maintaining a relaxed hand and arm position, is also crucial for achieving faster playing speeds.

If you’re playing on a single string, slurs will probably be faster. For example, running up and down the first four notes of D Major (D0-1-2-3-2-1-0) will be easier to play faster with slurs.

For tunes with string crossing patterns, you’ll be able to play faster with separate bows.

And for some pieces you’ll want to do a combination of slurred and separate bows

For Soldier’s Joy A Part, First Quarter 1 recommend trying Separate One-Slur Three.

A part, first quarter: (A2-1)-A0-D2-0-2-A0-D2-0-2-0-3-3

Experiment with different ways to bow one little part. If something usually starts down bow, try it upbow. If it’s usually played with double stops, try to remove them. Fiddling With Desirable Difficulty create little challenges that deepen learning. Even if a particular bowing experiment doesn’t work that well, you’ll become a more flexible player by trying.

Then integrate it into the whole and see if it works. Then speed it up. 

Other ways to play faster

Slurring is just one of many tools for playing faster.

You wanna play faster on the violin? Well, let me tell ya, it’s a combination of proper technique, regular practice, and a whole lotta patience. Here’s a few tips to get you started:

  1. Get your technique on point, like a laser pointer on a cat 😹. Proper posture, finger placement, and bowing technique are essential for playing fast and cleanly. Work with a qualified teacher to ensure that your technique is sound.
  2. Practice, practice, practice. It’s like the old saying goes, “practice makes perfect, even though nobody’s perfect… Consistent practice is key to improving your speed and dexterity. Break down complex passages into small, manageable sections and practice each one slowly, gradually building up speed as you become more comfortable.
  3. Use a metronome, it’s like a personal trainer for your fingers, keeping you in tempo and timing. Practice with a metronome to build your accuracy and speed.
  4. Relaxation is key, like a key to a car, if you’re tense, you ain’t going nowhere fast. Tension in your hands, arms, and shoulders can impede your ability to play quickly. Make sure to keep your fingers, wrists and arms relaxed.
  5. Build finger strength and dexterity: Exercises such as scales, arpeggios, broken chords, and double stops can help to build finger strength and dexterity, which are essential for playing fast.
  6. Practice with a goal in mind: set a goal for yourself and practice towards that.

Remember, progress takes time, and patience is a virtue, unless you’re waiting in line at the DMV.


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