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Applying Music Theory to a Hard Musical Passage

Ben Chan

Written by
Published: April 5, 2015 at 12:13 AM [UTC]

Hi everyone!

I'm still enthralled with Wieniawski's D Minor Concerto since my student is preparing for a recital. While teaching him last night, I taught the principle that I share in this video.

Enjoy, and thanks for all of your feedback!

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From Paul Deck
Posted on April 6, 2015 at 2:03 AM
What is described in your video is not what I usually think of when I hear the term "music theory" but I enjoyed it nevertheless. Your matter-of-fact style of presentation is compelling and I'll bet you're a good violin teacher.

I've encountered these kinds of situations many times, in both pieces and in studies, where I'm in a certain position but I have to make an extension and then drop back or raise up half a step, etc. Having a good reference frame for hand position is indeed critical to reaching the notes easily and staying in tune, but I don't think of the "number" of the position. I think more of the intervals I'm playing. Maybe I should try it your way.

On the other hand, I'm nowhere near ready to play the concerto you quoted. So I guess the only surprising thing to me is that a student who would be working on this concerto would not know how to do that already. The other possibility is that somehow I missed the point entirely...

From Nicholas Schmeller
Posted on April 7, 2015 at 12:27 AM
I'm currently playing the D minor concerto, I'm all but finished with it (it was a wonderful time learning it) so I already have done my time on that passage. Good advice, I took the hard way (lol) and slogged through it. It sure is fun to play as fast as you can. Good video as well.
From Ben Chan
Posted on April 7, 2015 at 2:47 PM
Thanks for your thoughts, both of you! It is indeed a difficult concerto and fun to play fast :)

This piece is also quite a few levels of difficulty higher than what my student can currently handle. He's very methodical and I wanted to really stretch him. We've only been playing it for a couple of months now and already he's made quite a few leaps and bounds in his basic playing ability - but it's still a bit too difficult for him to play through from start to finish.

He's actually preparing to play this 1st movement for our annual NYSSMA competition at the All-State level. I expect he will not get the best score, but I intend for this to be a good learning process for him. And we plan on repeating the same piece a year from now for NYSSMA All-State again.

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