The First Two Things Every Violin Student Should Learn | Chuck Gunsaullus | Skillshare

The First Two Things Every Violin Student Should Learn

Chuck Gunsaullus, Violinist & Teacher

The First Two Things Every Violin Student Should Learn

Chuck Gunsaullus, Violinist & Teacher

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8 Lessons (41m)
    • 1. Class Overview

    • 2. The Perfect Right Hand

    • 3. Pinkie Pushups

    • 4. More Exercises for the Right Hand

    • 5. The Perfect Left Hand

    • 6. An Etude for the Left Hand

    • 7. More Exercises for the Left Hand

    • 8. Class Project Prep and Thank You!

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About This Class

A house needs to be built on a solid foundation, and so does your violin technique.  If I had to choose the first two things to teach a new violin student, I would choose these two.  Learning these two actions will put you in the best possible position to improve more quickly.  You'll still have to practice :(, but with a solid foundation, you'll find improvement comes much easier.

This is not a Master Violin in Two Weeks class. While I firmly believe that learning the violin properly can only be done with a human being and in person, this just isn't always possible in today's world. My class will give you an opportunity to learn violin technique online and at home, which will give you more confidence and help you in your regular violin studies.

I have been both performing and teaching the violin for over 25 years. I specialize in a fun yet scientific approach to learning the violin.  You can see more about me on my homepage here, or my Facebook page here.  

By the end of this class, students will be able to:

  • hold the bow correctly with strong flexible fingers
  • make a solid and straight bow stroke
  • have a perfect left-hand position
  • use the 4th finger more confidently

I can't wait to get started and help you build that foundation which will help you learn the violin faster and more efficiently.

Meet Your Teacher

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Chuck Gunsaullus

Violinist & Teacher


Chuck Gunsaullus started playing the violin in Arlington Heights, IL at the age of 5. After studying at the Hartt School of Music and University of Kansas, he began his music career which includes orchestras like the New Jersey Symphony, Kansas City Chamber Orchestra, Hartford Symphony, and Huntsville Symphony.
He is an active teacher and has recently taken to online teaching due to the new global situation in 2020. He loves photography, painting, and writing his own bios in the third person.

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1. Class Overview: Hey there! And welcome to this class the 1st 2 things every violent students should know. I'm your instructor, Chuck, and solace. This class is not a how to play the violin in two weeks class. Nobody can learn how to play the violin in two weeks, This class is going to tell you the two most fundamental bits of technique that you need to know to. Then go on and learn to play the violin. We're going to talk about the right hand and what makes a good right hand position. We're gonna talk about the right hand and how to go from an up photo a down bow and have flexible fingers on your right hand and to make the boat go nice and straight and make a beautiful sound. We're also gonna talk about the left hand and what's a good left hand position and how to make sure that you play in tune and that your fingers can have the most dexterity and move the fastest. So hopefully you're going to get a lot of great information out of this class. If you're a complete beginner, you'll probably get obviously a good foundation to start from You know, a house has to be built on a solid foundation, and so does violin technique. Now, if you're in a more advanced student, it doesn't hurt to go back and take a look at some of the basics. So let's get started with our first lesson on right hand pinky push ups. 2. The Perfect Right Hand: Hey, everyone, it's time to get started with the first lesson. This lesson is going to involve the right hand. This in the next two lessons. Actually, we're gonna talk about the right hand, not the left hand. I almost had left hand right hand. And that's your bow, Aunt. And we're gonna talk about what is the perfect or what is a good right hand position. It's a little complicated, but it just so happens that I happened tohave near perfect right hand position. So we're gonna talk about that in the next couple of lessons, we're gonna talk about ways to practice it. But for now, let's just talk about what makes up the perfect right hand position. So for you, complete beginners, we're gonna start with our bow, which means I always start this way. Okay, Two middle fingers go around the frog of the bow. This is the frog. This is the tip. Two middle fingers go here, index finger, some pinky. All right. Everything is round. This is round. It's not like this. It's rounded. Pinky is rounded. Not like this. Do you know what we call this? We call this the claw of death. so you don't use the cloth death. Here we go this way, and it works out perfectly. Okay, so this is the proper right hand position. However, Like I said, it's a little more complicated because there is perfect right hand position when you play down here at the frog. But if you take a good straight bow stroke now, this is what my hand looks like. What? I'm at the tip. What? That's right. You need to have flexible fingers here. Okay, Flexible fingers. Flexible, flexible, flexible. You don't ever grip. Ah, super tight. Same with this. You don't ever grip that super tight. But look at my bow Goes nice on and straight. And you need to do a straight boat because you're Bo should always be here. Okay, a little closer to the bridge, then the fingerboard down here Sounds like that. No bueno. Too close to the bridge. It sounds like that also. No Bueno. So right here Eyes where you want to pay now? Yes. There are times when maybe playing a little a little closer to the fingerboard is better. When you play close for the fingerboard, you're gonna tend to play softer and Likewise, When you're playing close to the bridge, you gonna tend to play louder. But those air specific things that you learn about later wrong when you're, um, or advanced player. But for now, that's just feet. Everything right in the middle. And as you can see my right hand completely flexible. All right, now, you might even do this. If you can do this intent, it's in the next lesson. Then you're off to a terrific start. These are what I call pinky push ups, and we're gonna talk about them in just a minute, so hang on. 3. Pinkie Pushups: Okay. Awesome. You made it back. We're gonna talk about our pinky push ups. Now, I'm gonna tell you right now, this is gonna be the most important part of your class. Project is toe. Learn these pinky push ups. If you're our brand new violent student, just starting out pinky push ups are the thing that is gonna help you make a better sound on your violin and is going to keep you motivated to keep working. Now, the left hand things we're gonna talk about also really super important. But you could play all the beautiful music in the world, so But if your bow is Theo, none of that matters If your boat is not doing what it's supposed to. So let's talk about pinky push ups. This is the exercise that you're going to do that's gonna help you play the violin better. The one thing that you can do is to have a flexible right hand. Okay? And that will help you make a good straight close stroke. So let's look at that. Both stroke a second. Remember? I'm like this at the frog, but now my right hands, the finger straightened out a little bit. So at the tip right hand is like this at the frog. Right hand is like this. Mm, yeah. Those look like pinky push ups to may. All right, so this is what the pinky pushups look like. So you're going from frog, right hand position, tip, right hand position and everything in be Tween there actually is a challenge going around on the Internet, maybe like a year or two ago. It first started with Violinist that what they would do is they put a like a glass of water on their under their hand, the back of their hand. When you see if I have something I can put on there. How about some reading glasses? Okay, So what the's would dio is, I don't drop them. Now, this is like super mega extra credit. That's not even in the in the assignment. But if you could do this, then you can probably do your pinky pushing. So anyway, let's talk about what these are and how to do it. So remember at the frog, your pinky is rounded like this. This is the perfect position, just like this. All right? Everything is round some. All these fingers go around. You're not club death, anything like that. Right? So this is awesome. All right. Your pinky and this muscle right here are probably getting the biggest work out in the world right now. And let me tell you real quick, before we get more into this that if you are ever, ever feeling sore, if your hand feels sore or if you have pain in either of your hands or arms or whatever, please don't continue to practice. Take a break. Put your arm down at your side and shake it out like this very gently. Very gently. You're just kind of okay. Not nothing like that. Just nice and easy and take all feel like all of the stress and the tiredness and the soreness are just tripping down from your shoulder all the way down into your fingertips and then flick it away. And there you go. Okay. Don't do this cause you're just You're hurting your muscles. Worse. But yet don't continue to practice if something hurts. Because if you do, it's gonna hurt worse. And you might actually hurt it. Like for real, Like you actually get You know something? We're like, you've pulled a muscle where you have, like, tendonitis or something like that with violinists, tendinitis, bursitis and carpal tunnel are just killers of violin careers. To be honest with you, there are some people I know that had to quit playing the violin. They were terrific players, but they had to quit because they just over practiced. So don't over practice. That's not an excuse not to practice, but don't overdo it. So, pinky push ups go from this where everything is nice and round, okay. And then we go like this. We just push the bow with your fingers away. All of my fingers stay exactly where they're supposed to. Okay, All of my fingers, nothing moves. We don't go, you know? You know, that's nothing. You know? Weird. Okay, we go with this and then we go like this. Pinky stays right on top. You see how this part of the bow and years is probably the same way? A few boats are not made this way, but this part is like a pencil. Right? So I have a pencil. I do have a pencil. Ah, Riel, pencil. And this is a way you can practice to get started is you can practice your pinky push ups on a pencil. And this I recommend doing this first before you do the boat part. Okay? Practice with a pencil and do this. And once you can do this and you're not, you know, you know, fumbling around, you gotta keep the pinky on the top facet of the pencil, okay? And then straightened fingers. OK, some straightens a little bit. I wish I could show you this backwards. It's a lot of different angles. Level of, uh okay. So once you're good at it with this, he I can't even feel my hands started. T get tight. So, pinky push ups Now with the bug. And remember, we go frog position, and then this is your tip position. Frog position, tip position. You don't even need these fingers at the tip, but keep them there anyway. Bad habit to do this whenever I see a lot of people and then they kind of do this. That's that's not good habit. Okay, I have my own bad habits that I do that you probably see in some of these videos, but make the most perfect straight bow stroke. You can't do that. If your hands like this thief was gonna go all over the place, that's no good at all. It's gonna sound terrible, and it's gonna make you feel terrible. So the key to this pinky push up move is so that you can draw a straight Bo. It's gonna make you want to continue to learn the violin because you're gonna make a beautiful sound right away if you can do this. So here's what I need you to dio number one. Get that pencil. Get working on this move. Refer back to this video. If you have questions about how it works, all right, and then move on to the boat, see if you can do this, okay? And then change your boat from this to this and keep the boat right here. A good straight boat in the perfect spot. It's gonna give you the most beautiful sound, even on a teeny tiny little violin. So definitely do that. Practice this move, you'll be able to do it. What I want to see from you and your class project is I want to see a video or at least some pictures that you can upload that shows you doing this all right, and I'll comment. If you have questions, I'll answer room. But let's get working on those pinky push ups. 4. More Exercises for the Right Hand: Okay. How's your hand feeling for we, Pinky? Push up Down yet? Okay, well, now that you've learned that exercise and you've learned how to change from frog position to tip position, that's that's a gross sound. Uh, but now that you've learned how to do that, what we can do is now we can do some mawr exercises, and these exercises involved scales. So let's just do a basic a major scale. Oh, okay. Even the smallest, youngest, most inexperienced beginner violinist can play this three. OK, but the thing is, is we're going to do that scale. We're not gonna use whole bows. We're not gonna play in the middle of the bow. We're gonna Onley play here. Oh, my gosh. All right, remember, this is our frog position for the so if you can do that at the frog without without making gross noises like that, then you're in really, really good shape. Let me talk to you real quick because I didn't do it in the earlier video. Let's talk about why does your boat scratch? Why does it both sound like that? The both sounds like that because you're using too much pressure and not enough movement. The whole thing about making good sound out of your violin is you have to have equal parts pressure and equal parts speed of the boat. Alright, if you're Bo goes too slowly and you press real hard, that's what it sounds like. That doesn't even sound like a pitch. It doesn't even sound like a note. It's so okay. Now, if you move your boat too quickly and you don't press hard, you get that. And that just sounds like air. So you have to have equal parts pressure and Bo movement. All right, so same goes down here. Okay? The same exercise. The same scale you can do here. Let me turn just a little bit. Right. So remember her hands more like this at the tip. The theme, right? And when were at the tip? We need to use our index finger to provide the pressure. OK, but again, if you're pressing too hard and not moving your boat, all right, So don't press so hard and use faster. I za faster boats. Drug dog loves it. So that's one thing you can dio now Here's your extra credit part for the class project. If you want to do this? I learned entire attitudes and scales. Three active scales doing this. When I got to college to music school, my teacher immediately said, OK, cancel everything you know about your bow arm were redoing the whole thing. Okay, great. So I spent the better part of a year reworking my bow arm and my all of this, and all of these principles were what I learned. So we're gonna play a scale, but we're not going to draw the bow. We're gonna put the bow down here, and they pick it up, and we're gonna put it here. And they were gonna pick it up, and we're gonna put it here. And what that does is it goes from this from this and then back to this and then back to this, and you just give a little you just give a little tiny bit of Ah, just so you can hear the note. All right, You gotta aim, Will the bow down, pick it up, put it back down fast. And like anything else, start slowly. Don't try to play it fast right away. But once you've practiced it and you know what you're doing and you feel the difference between tip and frog, Then you can try to go real fast, and we're going to see just how fast you can play it. If you could do with that fast, you're better than I am cause I didn't do it very cleanly. But that's the thing you want to do. So just play that same scale. But you're not gonna draw the bow. You're gonna place it, pick it up, and then place it the tip for the next note taking place back at the frog, picking up etcetera for the entire scale. This exercise is the best for really getting the pinky push ups to do their work. All right. I used to play. I used to just play, play, play, play, play that over and over to get my arm was killing me when I was done by hand was hurt and everything. So the extra credit part the third part of your class project. The second part is coming up in our left hand exercises. But the third part of your project is right here. Play this scale just like this. I guarantee you've You can do that. Oh, you could do that and have it sound gorgeous. So practice those things. Remember, I will answer questions. The community will answer questions. Everybody's gonna answer your questions. I'm more than happy to do it. Let's get working. And then when you're ready, we could move on to the next set of lectures, which are gonna be on the left hand. We'll see you pretty soon. 5. The Perfect Left Hand: Hey, welcome back. Here's what we're gonna do now. Now we're gonna work on the left, and that's this one. I know my right from my left. The left hand is important. It's important because that's where your fingers go. So we need to have good position for where our fingers go, all right? And not only do we have to have good position if they have good, you know, good angles and good everything like that. But we also have to make sure our fingers do what they're supposed to do and go where they're supposed to go. It doesn't matter how beautiful you learned your pinky push ups, and this whole thing doesn't know that matters If this is all messed up and you're not playing into So what really matters is that your fingers are always ready to go, because eventually you have to play something fast on. And when you have to play something fast, your fingers gotta be always ready. They can't be out here. So here's the main thing with the left hand and how it needs to get well, first of all, all right, this is a good left hand position. This is straight. Okay, It's not in like this, okay? Or out like this. But straight. Maybe a little bit out from straight, but never in. Because if it's in, you can't change positions, and your fingers don't do what they're supposed to. What this looks like right here. This beautiful left hand position. This is what you see in, like, super complete beginner violence. Teoh that that don't know what they're doing. So what you need to have Not only do you have to have this straight, but you also have to make sure that you're not setting the violin all the way down into the webbing down here between your thumb and your index finger, it's gotta go like so. Thumb should always be pointed out. Not like this. All right. And there should be Ah, hole. So if you look closely, you can see the tip of my bow sticking through the little hole that is made between here and here. That's very important. Okay, so what's the other big thing while the other big thing is that your hand has to be turned the right way? So the easiest way to think about it is the palm of your hand should never be facing your face. Like if you wrote something here on the palm of your hand. You know, if you can read this your hands in the wrong position. Okay, If you can read that from here, then that's not the best position in this position. Is when the palm of your hand is facing over your shoulder like that over there. Okay, so it's not the most ideal or comfortable position for a normal person toe have their left hand to trust me, so it's gonna take some getting used to. But if you can think straight here never in but straight maybe a little out and palm of your hand over there, you're off to a terrific start. So one last thing, because this whole lesson revolves around the left hand and includes the fourth finger. Do not leave this guy out. The fourth finger really kind of is like the red headed step child of your left hand, and it shouldn't be. You should use it. There are times you're going to have to use it like if you play a scale that is like hash real gross. All right, But if you play. Okay, It's It's not so gross. So you gotta use fourth finger and don't be afraid of it. So a lot of the exercises were going to do in the next lesson, or that the exercise we're going to do. The next lesson involves the fourth finger, and here's a great way to make sure your hand is in a good position. If you put your fourth finger down and you can reach it nice and comfortably, look, here's my hand. Okay? What a lot of people do is their hands way out here. Look, my fingers were like, six miles away. They're never going to get to the string on time, are they? So keep your hand like this so that all your fingers have to do is just go up and down not , you know, way out there, but just, uh OK, so that is what a perfect left hand position is. If I do say so myself, the next lesson is going to involve practicing it, and there's an a tude that we used to practice it in. A tube is like a little piece of music that's not designed to be performed, is designed and written to help you learn a specific technique. Those air what attitudes are. So the attitude is by Rodolphe Kreutzer and creatures, a tube number 90 that's gonna give your left hand a really good workout and teach you perfect hand position. Stay tuned. 6. An Etude for the Left Hand: Okay, You ready to go? We're going to do some a tude work toe, work out the perfect left hand position, and we're going to use an A to Bye. Mr. Kreutzer here. Just so happened to have the book right here. And number nine. I turned right to it. I must practice this one a lot. Dan tended. Okay, so it looks awful. It looks really nasty hard, but it's really not. The second part of your class project is going to be to learn the 1st 4 bars off the Kreutzer etude number nine. It just so happens I've put a pdf for you to download that you can use so you don't have to download the music yourself. Although you could go toe, I am slp and get it. That's a really great website. Link is right there, So check it out. But for now, we're going to talk about this gate Oud. It's very, very simple. I could teach it to you without the music. So you're going to start on the D string with a low second finger. So that means second finger goes next to first finger. It's not up here. He goes next to first finger, first finger, second finger their buddies. And it's going to go to for three on back. Teoh. All right, that's going to see. That seems really boring already, doesn't it? But you're going to practice it. I'm gonna throw you how? In a minute So that you can play it all The one bow third bar. We go over here. So that's the two bars of Kreutzer that you're going to learn. Let me show you how you're going to learn it. First thing you're gonna go to Dio is, uh, find second finger on the D string. Remember, it goes next to where one goes and then check it always with open A to make sure that's in tune. Oh, that's in tune. That's not into it. Make sure it's in tune Now, before you play it like it is play two than three. Make sure brings real pretty. And then four the oh, so you know where your fingers go, then separate those learn. It's a pattern like that. Third thing you're going to do is try to play one group of 16th notes, right? There's three groups of 16,000 every measure, so I want to play one group, you know, slurred bow. You want to keep your fingers down, right? You want to keep your fingers down and when you pick your four finger up, I do not know. Keep it, Theo. My fingers are going very far away. Are they think you're going to do the same thing for bars three and four. You're going to go over to the G string and do that. This is quite your etude number nine. My teacher. When I was in college in music school, my teacher claimed that he taught an adult student how to play the violin. Just using this a to now. I'm sure it could be done because this a two. It's got lots of ways you can play it and it really does give you the best left hand position. I'd be bored out of my skull. I want to do that, but it is possible. I see what he met and I practice this thing left words backwards, front words every which way and learned it and learned it well real quick. I want to tell you one thing about this a tube. This attitude will make your left hand tired we owe away from low second finger to fourth finger. So after a while, your hands probably going to get tired where it even may start to hurt a little bit. Do not continue to practice if it hurts. We talked about this back when we were talking about the right hand in the pinky push ups do not continue to practice if your right hand hurts where of any of left hand hurts right hand, big toe. Any of that stuff Don't keep practicing because you don't want to hurt it. Worse. So nice and easy. Just put your left hand down at your side just like we talked about Gently wring it out. Let all the tension let all the tiredness, the stress the pain just kind of leaked back down into your fingertips and then throw away Piece of cake. So class project part number two is toe learn These 1st 4 bars of the Kreutzer eight to number nine. Music is there for you. Refer to this lecture if you need to, you know, did help figuring it out. You don't have to play it fast. If you could only do for Theo thing Onley due for a time. This this exercise is really on Lee toe work on the left hand position that everything is in place. Stay tuned. The next lesson, which is the last one. The next lesson is going to talk about some other stuff you can do to make sure your left hand does what it's supposed to. So best of luck to you will see you pretty soon. 7. More Exercises for the Left Hand: Okay, here we are at the part. You've all been waiting for. The end. We're gonna talk about just a few more exercises. Things you can do to make sure your left hand does what it's supposed to dio. So, as always with me, we're going to talk about scales. Scales are the most important thing that you can practice, and you should practice them every single day. The scale is very simple. Here's the simplest. That's all there is to it. That's a one active, a major scale. Now I use a scale book by a man named Carl Flesch. Carl Flesch was a pre eminent violinist in their very early part of the 20th century and kind of 20th early 20th century issue. I forget exactly put his dates right up there, and he developed well. First of all, he wrote a book called The Art of Violin playing, which, you know, sounds comprehensive, which is nice. But he also put together the Carl Flesch scale system. Every violence do should have this now. I used it. I used it from when I was a little kid through college, and the car flesh scales some. It's kind of like. Imagine reading the dictionary. If you read the dictionary, you would know every single word in the English language, right? If you can play the entire car of flesh, Book is about this thick. If you can play all of it, you can play anything. There is on the violin. That's you. So get this book. It's a little more advanced. So, like beginning, students are really gonna use it, although there are one octave scales in there that you could probably do, but it's a little advanced. It's really more for like, three active scales, too. Active scales there stubble stops and harmonics. All kinds of crazy stuff. But it's a wonderful book. I used it now, my teacher in college, he studied with Carl Flesch. So it's like all Carl flash all the time for May. With him. So scales. The best thing to do when you play scale is just like when you play the AIT oud display. Oh, my fingers. They just are hovering above the string eyes, hardly any motion at all involved in putting them down and picking them up. And that's very important. Oh, when you go back, did you notice something with my fourth finger again. We're talking about four finger Watch what I dio. I'm getting my fourth finger Ready? A little early. Right on. That's important. Get that finger prepared. Get all of your fingers prepared. Okay, Get all of your fingers. Always ready to go when you thing is another thing that you can practice. So, like on the A strain or the D string. Rather, I'm just putting my fourth finger down and picking it right back up again. I'm not going fingers of several blocks away out here. They're never going to get back on time. Not only that, but the chance of playing with good Internation at that point, the chance that your fingers are gonna go back to the exact spot they're gonna have to go to play in June. Chances, you know, next to nothing. So make sure that you just pick him straight back up. None of this. None of that stuff. Okay, so with scale, Theo. All right, Now I have a habit. Have a good one, but my fingers tend toe tend to be very, uh, compact here. I don't keep my fingers spread out very well like this. Alright, I get around it by, You know, I've gotten around it by practising. It's just a habit that I have everybody's left hands a little bit different. But if you can, if you can keep your fingers right where they need to be all the time, then you're gonna be able to play in tune all the time. And playing in tune all the time is about the most important thing you can dio. So there's one more lecture to wrap all this stuff up and talk about the class project. I hope that it helped you look for more lectures on some more advanced techniques coming up . I really appreciate you taking a look at this class, and I'll see you pretty soon. 8. Class Project Prep and Thank You!: okay, You made it all the way to the end. I'm So what did we learn in this whole big class? We learned the best possible position for your right hand, and we learned how to transition from the best position. When you're at the frog to the best position, when you're at the tip and how to go back and forth and do those pinky push ups, we learned how to draw a straight bo and make the most beautiful sound possible. We also learned how to deal with the left hand and where our fingers go and what is a good right hand. This isn't the right hand what it could left hand position. So let's talk about the class project. There are three parts of the class project. The 1st 2 are your class project, and then the third part is extra credit. Part number one is learn how to do pinky push ups that simple. Learn how to do this practice at first with a pencil. Always practice with the pencil first. It's actually a little more difficult to do because the pencil it's so light. But you can at least learn this motion and get going, then transition into the boat. So that's part one. Part two is to learn the 1st 4 bars of the Kreutzer Etude number nine sheet music excerpt is attached, so learn the 1st 4 bars. That's two on, and that's for so practice it slowly practice it like I showed you in that video place separate bows, if you can on Lee at the end of it. If you could only play four, you only play four notes in a boat. That's fine. You only play one note. Nebo. That's fine. The whole purpose of that exercise is to get the left hand doing what it's supposed to do. Refer back to all those lessons so that you can practice it correctly. So make a video takes still pictures. If you want to, you can upload it here. I'm happy to comment on it. Answer any questions that you have now. The third part is extra credit, and the third part is kind of a mix of both things. But what we're going to do is we're gonna go playing a major scale from here, like that frog to tip toe frog to tip, and it's gonna do this thing with your fingers, and it's also making sure that your left hand is doing what it's supposed to dio. So I thank you very, very much for participating in this class. If you have questions, please post them. I would be happy to answer them. If you have concerns or emotional outbursts, go ahead and post them to. I'll take a look at those and answer accordingly. And if you want to contact me, you can and look out for more classes cause I'm gonna put a whole bunch of more classes on here that deal with little specific bits of violent techniques. So be on the lookout. Thanks again, I'm chucking Solace, and I am out of here.