How can I set myself up for success before starting a tune?

Here’s a quick but powerful tip. Before you start to play anything, “find the notes”. This will dramatically improve your performance, give you confidence and make the whole learning process more fun.


Slowly play the first few notes of the tune, scale or exercise. Are they in tune? Listen and adjust them. How is the tone (that is, the quality of the sound)? Can you get it to sound more solid? Try using a throw-away bow or saw bow to improve the sound. Finally play them with a simple rhythm, preferably a rhythm from the tune. If you’re unsure, just play hoedown or triplets. The point is to get a sense of timing and groove before starting.

Before you start to play the tune, see if you can enjoy the sound of these first few notes. Then launch into it!

This might take a minute, but it can help you have a more successful run at what you’re practicing. And it will give you a little confidence boost to make these few notes sound good. I’ve been playing a pretty long time, but I still like to check in on my sound and tuning by playing a few notes.

And if in the course of playing the tune it becomes a struggle, just pause again, take a breath and find your notes once more.

To sum up:

  • Play the first few notes
  • Do it SLOWLY
  • Correct tuning
  • Correct tone
  • Get in the groove
  • Have the time of your life


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