How does one practice arpeggios in the repertoire?
We are not just learning a passage. We are learning mastery of the violin/viola for all passages and all repertoire all the time.
The subtitle of my books is: "How to master…"
Applying the methods and examples with cross applications of rhythms, shifts and bow strokes enable us to master given passages, concurrently developing our technique to continuously higher levels.
The following is initially very time consuming, but in so doing our progress gains exponentially. As the skills and methods become second nature, we realize the most efficient use of our practice time.
Whether Bach, Beethoven or Paganini—and even Flesch, Kreutzer, Dont, etc.—use the method of double-stopping across the strings as written in my book. (Pages 52-74 contain varied types of arpeggios and fingerings.)
Do a lot of Repetition Hits in all of your technique—scales, 3rds, arpeggios, etc. Remember Rep Hits are to be accomplished with balance and ease of action—not fast. They are never heavy and/or tight. The left hand remains alert, agile and free at all times. Refine the form, balance and action of the left hand, wrist and arm—no reactionary wrist kick-outs when a finger hits the string with light precision.
During above arpeggio practice simultaneously focus on the bow.
Plane/line of each bow stroke—
The entire bow arm must achieve the change of string. It is a simultaneous move from the shoulder. Do not anticipate this with the forearm, hand or fingers in any way.
Blend String Crossing—
In addition to the above, blend/flow in and out of 2 strings.
After this we are ready to play the arpeggio passages in single notes as written by the composer.
When accomplishing this, immediately use varied rhythms, e.g., 2-16ths & 2-8ths with permutations, and dotted 8th with 16ths varying the location of the dotted 8th. Adjust these rhythmic variations if the written note pattern is other than 4 note groups.
For those with my book, you can quickly find the rhythmic patterns in Basics II, pg 12-13, and the Arpeggio Sections, pg 52, 57, 62, 67, 71. Embellish beyond these examples when they are mastered.
When you get stuck with a particularly awkward rhythmic pattern for the given passage, that is the one you must focus on and take ownership—master. Practice that pattern every where and move the difficult passage up and down chromatically, using the same fingering.
Continuously assess balance, shape, form, clarity and accuracy of the left fingers, hand & arm in combination with a flowing directed motion of the bow arm.
Use the metronome to focus and finely grade your acceleration toward the desired tempo. Each consecutive day develop the passages further with all of the above in combination with further acceleration.
The metronome is one of our greatest tools to develop rhythm and fine tempo control. It is a tool to use, but not become a slave to.
The work that takes 1 hour the first day to achieve can be done in 20 minutes or less the following day. When something is going well confirm it a 5-7 times over and then move on to further variations—again, we are mastering technique of the violin for all repertoire—past, present and future.
Posture should be impeccable with strings parallel to the floor.
Up shifts: maintain the angle of the fingernail during shifts on a given string. The rest of the finger, hand and arm do the adjusting while in shift motion. All is simultaneous.
Down shifts: Particularly watch the return of the left thumb, fingers, hand and arm, i.e., 3rd position up to 9th position and return to 3rd with precisely the same balance posture, shape and form of the hand. The return shift down is like a movie of the shift up going backwards with simultaneous actions.
Memorize / Identify / Name / Codify
When developing the passages per this article, memorize as you go—working through the varied patterns and rhythms. Name the note, finger, string and position—which all become synonymous—combined with the Hand Group (interval pattern of left hand fingers). To this assign the beat pattern of the note.
If frustrated, slow down and persist.
If bored, you fell asleep while working.
If unable to focus, move on to another rhythm, tempo or change passage.
Enjoy your achievements,
More entries: April 2010
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