Violin sound.

Nah, the prescription is right but they made the lenses to suit somebody else. They need to be fitted properly too, so if you ask them to make sure that a screen at this height and angle with your head placed here, is in focus, they can easily do it. I tried ordering a cut price spare pair from gogglesforu, and they were as you described. A proper optician will mark the dummy lens with marks showing the factory where the transition in prescription should happen. The ones I now have are exactly what I want. Laptop on lap, screens at two heights on desk. The only time it doesn’t work is when it’s night and light level is low. Your pupils iris open and depth of field reduces. Normal lighting give sufficient depth of field. As I’m sitting here, in bed, the pad is sharp, but so is the tv thats 3m away, the transition is in the gap between them at the comfy head angle.

Thanks Raymond; I do need correct glasses for reading music scores; I have friends who also prefer Specsavers so I've been web searching for the easiest branch where I can park the car without ending up in prison; Huddersfield Town has a Specsavers but I couldn't be forced into Huddersfield at gunpoint; it's becoming cycle & bus only car drivers aren't made welcome; ideally I'd like a Specsavers in a retail park but I can dream on; I'll keep looking. Thanks also for your concern it's decent of you.

I dumped my bi-focals TalismanRich a few years ago changing to single lens normal glasses and a pair of reading glasses; I became fed up of swapping to reading glasses so use my standard glasses full time; like you I too was diagnosed with cataracts starting at Boots optician in Meadowhall the only difference is mine was diagnosed over ten years ago; the only thing I find difficult is night driving with halo's around headlights coming towards me; this isn't a major problem because the only night driving I do is local; I had my eyes tested over a year ago at a family owned company and never again; I thought I'll support someone local so booked the appointment; in the car park I headed to the ticket machine and was a bit baffled; it was one of the new car battery charging points. Entering the store I followed a lady into the small reception area; the lady approached the counter and the optician was speaking to her; as I entered the optician looked at me as if I was dirt not saying a word of greeting so I introduced myself and was curtly told to "Take a seat" he didn't inform me where to take the seat to so I sat.

The lady departed and I was in solitary confinement for ages whilst he played with his keyboard; during this time I presume it was his equally unpleasant wife who came in and looked straight through me as if I wasn't there; she departed and once again I sat in silence in solitary confinement; by now all I wanted was to get out of there and leave this miserable pair alone. Normally I'm very friendly and don't bite; I'm polite in the extreme but this pair rattled me; eventually he said "follow me" fed up of this unfriendliness I looked him straight in the face and told him I only wanted my eyes testing not wanting glasses so the mood remained the same but what I wasn't prepared for what followed; I was led down very steep very narrow steps into the dungeon; at the bottom of the steps he had to reach around a door to push away equipment before we could enter; I wondered about a fire escape.

He tested my eyes and when finished held onto the prescription so I asked him if I was going to get the prescription at this point he told me he was only responsible for what he'd already done and should I go online for cheap glasses he wasn't responsible. Me; cheap: I had over £400 cash on me plus a well loaded debit card; I was more than happy to see the back of him and his advertised "Friendly family business" I should hate to see him hostile? Back home I bought a pair of single lens glasses online costing £35 inc P&P. I didn't want to obtain glasses like this and possibly is the reason I think I can't quite fully read registration numbers on a vehicle hence my decision to have my eyes tested again. One thing I did ask him was about cataracts; his reply he couldn't say if I had or had not cataracts; so much for me wanting to support a local business. Using my old bi-focals it became much too painful viewing the computer monitor giving me terrific neck pain having to lift my head to peer though the bottom of the lens and also descending steps was strange as my vision changed.

Whilst at Boots optician years ago TalismanRich they did an excellent job with my reading glasses just as you described; distance and angle were taken into consideration but as I say I became fed up swapping glasses so resorted to using my normal glasses; months ago whilst in "Home Bargains" I bought a pair of magnifying glasses I think they are 3X; back home I tried using them but all I could see was a complete blur but my wife loves them. My wife had her eyes tested at Vision Express in Meadowhall years ago paying quite a bit of money; shortly after she picked the glasses up at home by one of the arms and they fell apart so another 50 mile round trip but now at the counter the young lady was unfriendly banging on about claiming benefits? We were treated like tramps wandering in from under a stone; service isn't what it used to be.

Thanks again everyone for your interesting replies. I've not played my violin for a couple of days in order to give my eyes a rest but until I buy new correct glasses I'll play my violin but not read from a music score.

Kind regards, Colin.
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I have found Specsavers to be very professional. I don't always buy new glasses, but they still hand me the prescription, and keep the details on their computers.
They have a lot of customers going through every day, and are even open on sundays.

Thanks for the information Raymond; I need to determine which Specsavers branch is best to visit regarding parking the car; I have a choice of locations but I do my best to avoid towns especially Huddersfield which I've no intention of visiting at all. I need to accept that I'm getting older after a blood pressure check at the surgery this morning; it's slightly high so I'm being fitted with a 24 hour monitor early next month; it's nothing to worry about because generally I'm in good health but I hoped to be over 80 before the creaks appeared. I'll update regarding Specsavers.


Eye test booked for tomorrow morning at Specsavers in Batley; I've just measured from eyes to music score and also drop to center of score; I'm fed up of struggling time to sort this out.

Kind regards, Colin.
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Eye test done; £397 for three pairs of glasses; one distance; one computer; one studio collect next Thursday so hopefully I'll be able to read violin music scores without making myself ill. Thanks once again Raymond; the two guys dealing with me in Specsavers were very friendly and professional making me welcome also the store was spotless with easy parking near by; Specsavers now have a new long term customer. (y)

Kind regards, Colin.

At last I'm practicing more without too many interruptions; my new glasses mean I can read violin music scores without problem; heating in the studio is sorted out and one really big annoyance now dumped; I've been tormented for a long time by my D'Addario mini tuner switching itself off after a few minutes violin practice meaning having to keep stopping playing to switch it back on again; I'm trying to play not constantly looking at the tuner but when I do look I expect to see a reading.

This morning the new Snark SN-5GX tuner arrived and what a brilliant tuner this is; very easy to mount with large clear readout and it doesn't decide when it wants to play; I'm unsure if switch off timing can be changed on the D'Addario but now I'm happy to have the Snark; I'm also progressing which please me and looking forward to lots more practices. Amazing Grace is starting to sound better and I'm finding my way around the score which is both fun and interesting.

Kind regards, Colin.
I'm not actually sure I have ever known anyone to use a tuner like this, Colin. Part of learning a string instrument is learning intonation by ears. String players have to be able to do this all the time - in fact, you often have to play slightly wrong, to sound right. You tune the open strings so they are dead right, then you pitch by ear to these. The usual thing is you actually put your finger down slightly wrong, and your ear shoves your finger up or down a bit. I'm not sure the tuner is the right way to learn - what happens when you don't have it, or the battery goes flat. You really need to train your ear the way people had to when tuners had not been invented. In fact, apart from the few folk who have perfect pitch, most people don't play in tune, they play with relative tuning, like guitar players do who tune by ear. You start with the E or whatever, and tune the A to it, then the D and so on. You strum a chord and then make little adjustments till it is right. The E could have been an F, or even half way between E or F - it doesn't really matter. You probably could use the tuner to get the bottom string accurate, then as the Perfect 5th above has a nice beat, you tune that, then move up a string.

I know you are inventing your own system Colin - but theres a chance that when you get quite good, it falls down because you left your ears behind. My double bass might be tuned to E, but probably isn't - because I don't have a tuner - I just play in tune because I can hear flat or sharp, and can correct very quickly. ANY fretless instrument needs the player to develop their ears at the same time as their fingers. It is probably the absolutely essential feature. I'm not saying they're bad, but they are meant for tuning the open strings - so before you start practice, and maybe during if the thing goes out of tune. Not for intonation. That's why the battery save feature never even gets a mention - nobody expects them to stay on?
Playing in tune is a relative thing. One guitar only has to be in tune with itself. Like you, I don't tune my guitar when I'm playing. I strum it, I can tell if it's in tune with itself. Good enough for practice. However, I do tune it, if I'm going to record or play with other people. I know a few people that play violin or standup bass. When they play with the group they adjust accordingly by ear on the fly. They say as long as the instrument is tune with itself, it's OK.

In Colin's case, he is playing from sheet music and is trying to learn the correct pitch for each note. I can't imagine how you would do this without a reference point from either playing with a recording, or his approach of using a tuner while learning to read music. I would start looking around for some recordings of a song(s) he would like to learn, and play along with them to help move from the dependence on the tuner. He may already be using a music course that has this included.

Many thanks for your interesting and instructive reply rob. I think you'll be pleased to learn I've now dumped my own system of learning because it's served its purpose in getting me to play Lara's Theme even though as you stated months ago it didn't include flats and sharps or timing; I can now play this from memory and I'm now really concentrating on Amazing Grace actually playing from Judy Collins violin music score so I'm doing my best to learn how to play the correct way. Regarding using the tuner; when I started to learn to play a violin I'd never tried to play any instrument so was totally in the dark but by creating my own music score I didn't lose interest as so many do and give up; I'm now into about 18 months of ups and downs but I'm still here and making slow but steady progress. I'm not using the tuner all the time for every note although the tuner is switched on all the time; I use the tuner by glancing at it from time to time to check I'm reasonably in tune; I'm picking it up slowly but now for instance I've started to know the difference between F and F#; if I didn't have a tuner I could never have done this just playing by ear because I didn't have a music ear as reference; it's as you know all down tp practice and lots of it; I'm also playing freehand without score just for the fun of it playing two lines of Amazing Grace only using one string and what a tremendous difference between the G & E strings.

I'm book learning and on Monday surprised myself quite easily playing what I thought would be a difficult line using all four fingers; yesterday I was poor with the same line but today I did well again; I accept this fluctuation it's all part of the learning curve and now I'm feeling a lot more comfortable in the studio I'm more enthusiastic than ever; eventually I'll tune my ears but at the moment I can get pretty near by finger position alone all I need is lots and lots of practice; I'm not in a hurry enjoying learning at my own pace without any pressure.

I did read ages ago in "The Strad" many violinists playing in an orchestra do play slightly differently to each other because otherwise the sound if all played exactly the same would be rather bland to a trained ear; I'm using the tuner in order to get as near as I can and as I say I'm improving.

Thanks R D Smith I can understand what you and rob are explaining but I think you've touched better on what I'm trying to do and how I'm trying my best to achieve it. The tuner is my reference after all without the tuner what other way is there to learn whilst totally on my own; however hard I try to remember notes I'll struggle until I put in the hours needed but I've got the patience and determination to keep trying. Yes I do play the songs as well; I've rigged up a car radio via a 12V adapter to a pair of Sony speakers; I've recorded Andy Williams singing Lara's Theme to memory stick hence the car radio which accepts memory sticks and a bonus is I can select repeat playing so it plays over and over; I've also bought a nice laptop but the sound is poor and shallow so car radio it is; I'll try anything to learn better and I'm now happy I'm starting to recognize which note to play directly from a music score which to me is a huge step forward; so far I've been practicing reading and playing G & D strings from the book but now it's also throwing in odd A notes and encouraging me to use all four fingers; at the moment I'm doing one decent practice each day but once the weather warms up allowing me to wander into the studio at will I'll be able to do lots of shorter practices which possibly are better than trying to do extra long practices where I tend to lose the plot a bit after over an hour of hard concentration.

I truly appreciate all help and information kindly given to me much of which is directly to the point and would take forever to find in a book; I'm starting to read the basic scores but there are yet lots of items on the scores I don't understand.

Kind regards, Colin.
If you have a string section and the second violin in the row plays a D, at the same time as the player next to him, they won't both be exactly the same note. what then happens is player one realises they're a bit flat, so they tweak their finger and play a bit sharper. At the same time, player two hears the violin next door a bit flatter than they are, so they go lower a tad - and then this cycle repeats - but with everyone and the result is almost the same as a guitarist's chorus pedal. One violin always sounds a bit thin and weedy, but a bunch playing in unison have an amazingly rich tone. Same thing happens with the trombones in the brass section. The rest have fixed pitches - so they are always playing 100% in unison - a very different result. It works really well. The science of a proper orchestra is very clever. The tuning fork was a way of moving pitch from venue to venue, and church organs use a travelling pipe so the tuners can do their stuff, but like railway time, historically pitch was rarely as fixed as we think of it today, but the critical thing being whatever pitch is agreed on, is what everyone follows.

One very good thing to practice is to tune your violin with your tuner and then play the lowest note and record it. A nice repeating very long note. Then detune your violin, and use the recording to retune to. You are listening for what is called zero beat. As you get close to the right pitch when you AND the recording are both playing, you start to hear the two notes 'warbling' a kind of loud/soft pattern that slows down as the two notes become the same. I assume your violins have tailpiece tuners? What you have to do is hold the violin under your chin, bow with the right hand and tune with your left. Quite tricky, but that's how to do it. Feel the beating through the chin/jawbone as well as hearing it. Once you have mastered that, you can then use the same technique to tune the perfect fifth on the next string. That's some homework for you!

Thank you rob for your interesting reply. When I first started playing my violin I wrongly assumed every musician played perfectly in tune so it came as a surprise when I read in the Strad this isn't so and now you also confirm players adjust to each other; I've a great deal to learn.

I tune my violin by resting it on my lap and plucking the strings; at the moment I can't settle with shoulder rests so play with a double folded towel over my shoulder; my left hand then also supports the violin; yes the violin is fitted with fine tuners and I'm OK at tuning; ideally I'd like to use a shoulder rest in order to free up my left hand but everything will eventually come as I keep practicing. Thanks for the homework suggestion; what you kindly tell me doesn't always sink in at first but often later it suddenly makes a lot of sense.

It's -3C here this morning with a frost; the studio is cold; we're expecting a friend to visit this morning then this afternoon a Virgin Media technician is to visit to sort out our signal problem; another day taken care of. Yesterday and Saturday I was up our big overhanging oak tree removing bottom branches using my 20" petrol chainsaw; this doesn't help violin practice at all; roll on warmer weather when I can wander into the studio without constantly having to preheat it; once I get my hands on the violin I really enjoy playing it. Next warmish day I've now got a big pile of oak brash to shred; the logs will be collected by a friend later this week; work around home and gardens never lets up and we're already into another growing season as things are bursting into life; no complaints though I'm happy being busy also happy at 75 still able to climb trees with heavy chainsaw. Life's good.

Kind regards, Colin.

I've been delighted over the last few days to enjoy two violin practices each day in peace making slow but steady progress trying to play Judy Collins Amazing Grace score from the score which I'm finding difficult but enjoying myself.

I thought surely after 18 months everything that could go wrong must have gone wrong; I started to notice a coating building up on the chin rest and at first thought little of it but it started to get worse; last night whilst watching TV under my left chin was wet to the touch and itchy; my chin was weeping which quite alarmed me.

This morning browsing the web I find this is common and caused by the chin rest metal fittings although in my case with highly sensitive skin it might even be the chin rest plastic causing the problem; I'll leave my violins alone for a short while in order to allow my skin to heal; I've just bought a leather chin rest cover through eBay;


Next problem please?

Kind regards, Colin.
It certainly looks the part, Colin.
Learning to sight-read is very subtle. You keep thinking it is dificult, but you gradually realize you're getting further with a piece that you coudn't do before.
I am in this position with my piano sight-reading. Just keep coming back to it for another go.

Thanks Raymond; I'm looking forward to receiving the new chin/shoulder pad.


I did at first think I'll never get to grips reading a violin score but as you rightly say it starts to fall into place; I'm now noticing G & D notes better but still have some way to go at reading A & E notes although I'm heading up into A notes; it helps if I play very slowly then my eyes reading the notes keeps up with my playing. Everything seems to take forever; the notes seen above with the arched line have puzzled me for quite a while until it suddenly clicked this morning as I took the snip to post it; (Amazing Grace) I assume the arch is referring to bow pressure and its a very long note; of course I could be totally wrong but I'm now starting to understand better what I'm looking at.

Whilst waiting for my chin to heal; yesterday I resumed restoration work on my vintage Howard Bulldog petrol rotavator.

My wife is finding it increasingly difficult to stand upright for any length of time so I'm learning how to bake. I've taken to baking enjoying it and already applied my own way of working; the first dozen muffins stuck to their cases so I did a bit of web browsing to look for non stick cases and WOW silicone non stick cases and cake tins are amazing; no more sticking and lots of messing around avoided.

More baking._0001.JPG
Ginger cherry cake and currant oaties. Not violin practice but equally as enjoyable.

If only I could get my hands on the violin without problems getting in the way; I should be a lot further forward but 18 months in and still problems now it's a sore chin; what next. My ambition was to play Lara's Theme on a violin I make myself and although I've bought the correct wood from Poland at high cost and gathered other items it's proving extremely difficult just to practice playing so for the time being I now intend to learn Lara's Theme but also Amazing Grace so I'm spending time between both which is hugely interesting.

Kind regards, Colin.
They look delicious.
Looking at that bit of score, I see that the timing is 3/4, meaning 3 crotchets(or quarter notes) to the bar.
You should be counting 1,2,3,1,2,3,1,2,3... in your head as you play.
The hollow note above the word 'me' is a dotted minim. An ordinary minim lasts for 2 crotchet counts, so you would start the note and count 1,2.
But because it is a dotted minim its length is extended by half, so you count 1,2,3. That fills the whole bar.
However that is still not long enough for the piece of music, so they put a crotchet at the start of the next bar with the same note 'b'.
The curved line from that dotted minim above the word 'me', all the way to the first crotchet in the next bar, means that it is all one continuous note, even though it is actually drawn as 2 notes. Whie you play that long note, you would count 1,2,3,1. The curved line 'ties' them together.

The two notes at the beginning, and the two at the end, are all quavers(or eigth notes). Two of them last as long as one crotchet.
To play those, you're still counting 1,2,3,1,2,3.... but you squeeze an 'and' in between.
Keep the 1,2,3,1,2,3,1,2,3 very evenly spaced, but squeeze the 'and' in without upsetting the rhythm.
The first two notes above the word 'like' would be the count 3.

If I was playing that whole bit of score, I would count in my head:

3 and 1 2 3 1 rest 3 and

I put rest there instead of 2, becuse that beat is silent.
I hope some of all that makes sense, Colin.
Raymond explained the tie really well - make sure that you can tell them from 'slurs' - as in 'like me' - if the notes were higher, the curve would look very similar to the tie you mentioned. A slur is when two different notes are joined together, with no gap between them. on the violin, you would finger the first note, then add the finger for the next one, without stopping the bow - the note just goes from the F to the G sort of 'live' - the note just changes - the F doesn't stop then the G plays - it's seamless.

It's interesting how much there is to learn about reading music that those that can, forget!

Raymond's 123,123 way of doing the rhythms really works - especially when you add the 'and' 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 etc.

The import rule is that every bar of music MUST have the right number of total beats - as in 3 or 4 in common music. If it isn't a note, it must be a rest. Notes written properly get squeezed in or spread out to reflect where they sound. Writing this is an art. Worth re-inforcing Raymonds comment about the dotted notes - stick a dot on any note and it becomes longer by a half. A 1 beat note becomes 1 and a half, a 2 beat note becomes a 3 beat note.

If you ever see little groups of notes with the number 3 above them, that's three notes in the time two would take - this often gives the music a dumpety-dumpety sort of jig feel. I can deal with semi-breves, minims, crotchets, quavers, semi-quavers, but the US note, ½, ¼, ⅛, 1/16 always confuse me - but I guess they must think our terms just as weird.

What a great explanation Raymond thanks very much; not only have you taken generous time to explain slurs but you've answered yet another question without me even asking it; DOTS; at first I thought it was just a printing error but then I started noticing dots more on a number of scores so now I know what slurs and dots are but because I'm keen to learn I've gone a little bit further and found TIES whilst browsing YouTube; with you kindly explaining slurs so I knew what to look for;

A lot of it makes sense Raymond and I'm sure I'll understand better the more practicing I do.

Thanks also rob for the extended version Raymond kindly supplied; dots are easy enough to remember once explained; if I see the number 3 I'll also understand what it means; slurs & ties will take more practice but little by little I keep learning more; yours rob and Raymond's continuing help and information are appreciated and although I don't fully understand at least I'm informed so am ready to accept as I get more involved with sight reading; it's not easy but anything worthwhile learning is seldom easy.

I feel a bit lost not having touched my violins and visited the studio for a couple of days but my chin is now healed nicely; I'd thought of wrapping the chin rest with a bit of cloth but I have high hopes of when the new chin rest leather cover arrives; I'm making slow progress but at least it's progress and the more I learn the more I want to learn; I've now got violins and studio so I'll not let go.

Thanks again Raymond & rob.

Kind regards, Colin.

The new leather chin pad/shoulder rest arrived yesterday and I was keen to try it out. The two rubber band attachments are meant to hook onto the violin but my Yamaha YEV-104 doesn't have these mounting points but by stretching the rubber bands I was able to attach them over the shoulder rest so it's fine.

In use and having only briefly tried it I can say first impressions are brilliant; it's so comfortable against my neck and chin; if the shoulder rest isn't wanted it can quickly be removed but at the moment mine remains in place. Hopefully no more weeping chin due to contact with the chin rest metal fittings and no more digging into my shoulder either; it makes a tremendous difference. I appreciate it costs a lot more than the usual cheap cotton pad alternatives but you get what you pay for.

I've just put the heating on in the studio and will shortly give the pad a better try; I'm considering buying another for my German 1880 violin before they are sold out; these leather pads don't appear to be widely available.

More to follow but at last something is going right for a change.

Kind regards, Colin.

An excellent day today; violin practice this morning and also this afternoon; the new leather chin rest pad is brilliant; it makes a tremendous difference;

Leather chinrest_0001.JPGLeather chinrest_0002.JPGLeather chinrest_0003.JPGLeather chinrest_0004.JPG

This is my Yamaha YEV-104; I doubt the rubber bands will last long but easily substituted; the leather is wonderful against my skin; well worth the money.

As a bonus I also baked two trays of Oaty cookies this afternoon; happy for a change I hope it lasts.

Kind regards, Colin.