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Mendy Smith

'H'ow to Get Re-energized

November 28, 2011 at 12:52 AM

Laurie's Thanksgiving blog reminded me that I haven't given much though or energy into my Z-A by 50 goal in quite some time. I took a pause from introducing new repertoire to put my focus on technique and practice habits.

I have been feasting on a diet of scales, etudes and finger strengthening, and intonation studies. This work has been a good thing. My left hand frame is much better, I'm developing an arm vibrato (albeit very slowly), and tone production and clarity is much improved. And best of all, the violist who has been living quietly in my head all this time is finally making an appearance in my playing.

My teacher assigned me a new piece: "Chahagir" by Alan Hovhannes. As printed, it is a very simple piece that could easily be played in 1st position by any novice. I almost decided to put it aside as being to simple until I listened to this recording:

The harmonics and bariolage sections are Ms. Adler's own interpretations. The use of Sul C is something that my teacher hinted at. Suddenly, this "simple" piece became a piece to be explored beyond its seemingly simplicity. It is a thing of beauty, a depth beyond the notes printed on the page... if I can develop the skills of interpretation.

I wonder what I can make of it.


From Emily Grossman
Posted on November 29, 2011 at 11:20 AM
It's a beautiful piece, and she certainly makes it alluring. Why in the hell can't she lift her scroll above her navel? The viola is not that heavy... (It bugged me, so I closed my eyes to finish listening.)
From Mendy Smith
Posted on November 29, 2011 at 11:04 PM
it is a no SR thing with violists, esp. one that large.
From Emily Grossman
Posted on November 30, 2011 at 12:30 AM
How big is it? I don't use a shoulder rest. I've never felt the urge to drop the scroll. How would it make anything easier?
From Mendy Smith
Posted on November 30, 2011 at 1:18 AM
That baby that's she's playing looks to be about 16 1/2" - 17" or so. Quite a reach down in 1st position, but is is difficult to tell with her wearing black and everything around her black.

It's more of an issue with an extended left arm than anything else. Many violists play with the scroll slightly lower than parallel to the floor. Without a SR, it is a bit more of a challenge to stabilize it left to right because of the larger lower bouts unless you are a bigger-ish person. A lower scroll places it against the body a bit more without needing to raise your left shoulder, depend on how you are built.

Looking closer, it appears that I'm wrong and she IS using a SR. It is unusual to see the scroll so low, but not unheard of.

From Emily Grossman
Posted on November 30, 2011 at 4:08 AM
Random side note: Leug Kin Fun is in a link that shows up in the window when the video finishes. Campagnoli Caprice. It just so happens that he plays in a quartet with my violin professor, Michael Ma.
From bill platt
Posted on December 2, 2011 at 1:35 AM
Looks huge. But women often make violas look huge. Why do so many little women play big violas? (Maybe she isn't little, I don't know).

Sounds awesome. Now I wish I had my viola back.

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