Alternative to the Kabalevsky violin concerto?

January 16, 2017 at 04:16 PM · Hello everyone,

My teacher has given me the Kabalevsky concerto, and I think it's a great piece.

However, secretly, I absolutely despise this piece, so so so much. I don't have any reason why, I just don't like it.

My teacher gave me ths piece to get me not fumbling over notes in fast passages, fast runs and to stop rushing.

So my question to you is,

Could you suggest any other pieces around my level to improve my "rushiness" and my fumbling notes?

I was thinking something like the Kreisler Praeludium and Allegro or some Partita/ Sonata by Bach.



Replies (28)

January 16, 2017 at 06:36 PM · Viotti 23, Rode #7, Kreisler Preludium and Allegro, or Sicilienne and Rigaudon.

January 16, 2017 at 07:10 PM · All of Bruce's suggestions are great but in your case I would suggest the Viotti 23, second choice Sicilienne and Rigaudon. In both of those, the passagework is more left hand than right hand. The passagework in Praeludium and Allegro is a little trickier with regard to string crossings.

January 16, 2017 at 11:16 PM · In addition to everything suggested: Another Kreisler alternative (slightly more difficult, I think), the Kreisler Variations on a Theme by Corelli. Any of the perpetual-motion type pieces (Ries Moto Perpetuo, etc.) might be a good exercise, too, or Schubert's The Bee.

January 17, 2017 at 01:18 AM · Great suggestions above. For another concerto option, there is Vivaldi Four Seasons (start with first movement of Summer). Since you asked about Bach, the Praeludio from the E Major Partita has some of the same issues but is rather harder technically (and much more so musically). As far as the Kreisler pieces, I agree with Mary Ellen. I think most students do S&R first.

January 17, 2017 at 01:59 AM · Good suggestions above. However, you said, your teacher wanted you "not fumbling over notes in fast passages, fast runs and to stop rushing" and assigned you this piece. I think the issue of dealing here isn't so much which piece(s) you should be learning in addition to what your teacher has already assigned because the issue is not going to go away if you are learning a different piece. If it's a matter of rhythmic steadiness that you need to be working on, then you need to use the metronome as much as possible during practice any piece.

January 17, 2017 at 06:23 AM · Thanks everyone for your opinions. I have played the Vivaldi Winter (whole) and I am quite interested in the Bach E major and the Kreisler Praeludium Allegro.

Any more suggestions would be very much appreciated.

January 17, 2017 at 06:37 AM · Thanks Yixi,

I completely agree with your opinion. Just recently I took a music diploma exam for the violin (equivalent to ABRSM LRSM level) and I unfortunately was not able to pass, due to the rushiness/ uncoordinated unheard notes. The lesson after I heard the bad news, he just gave me the Kabalevsky and Beethoven Romance in G.

As I just want to improve my musicall skills, I wanted to do more techincal work, or an etude to help me. I too disagree with my teacher.

January 17, 2017 at 06:44 AM · Also Paul,do you think I should try to challenge the Preludio from the E major partita by Bach?

January 17, 2017 at 08:16 PM · Just reflecting on your situation being 14, and you've been playing 4 years? Since you wrote that you wanted to improve your musical skills, perhaps you should work on something that may not necessarily be what you consider a technical challenge, but WILL INSTEAD let you focus on cleaning up WHAT you are playing, doing it without rushing, and doing it with a great piece of music that you can handle in the process. Perhaps your teacher is on to something. A teacher certainly looks at your ability much differently (and objectively) than you may. Record your self, and then write your own critique. You can't advance musically if a steady beat and clarity of notes isn't there. Perhaps you are looking at the Kabalevsky as a punishment, rather than being a path to your goal. Disagreeing with your teacher isn't going to help your playing.

January 17, 2017 at 10:44 PM · Kaori, I think you are very motivated and it sounds like you are also a quite tenanted young musician. I also understand how frustrating that you might not get the support you feel you need from your teacher at this point. I've been there and it's one of the most awful things to go through when learning something so difficult without strong guidance from one's teacher. I'm not sure if you've had honest discussion with your teacher, or at least with your parent, whom I assume is paying for your lessons. If you've discussed the issue with your teacher and you are not getting the effective directions from him/her, you may consider change teacher. In my own personal experience, rushing and messy notes as a result of rushing is not the hardest thing to overcome. A good joint effort between you and your teacher should be able to fix this problem with days. Ask your teacher to show you how to practice these fast passages cleanly during the next lesson. Then go home practice this way to see how you progress.

I agree with what Jim said above. Disagreeing with your teacher is not going to help you; however, having an ineffective teacher is not only waste of money and your time, but can also have greater long term negative effect. If your situation with your teacher doesn't improve, I hope you will get your parents on board to search for a teacher who might suit your need better.

January 17, 2017 at 10:59 PM · Oh no! It breaks my heart to hear that someone despises Kabalevsky!

Kabalevsky was my absolute favourite concerto when I studied it, and another of his composition, Improvisato, is my go-to slow audition piece.

I think Kabalevsky Concerto is actually great in addressing your issues because the scale is quite different from the scale system used in, say, Bach or Mozart, so you are expected to move your fingers quickly in an unexpected fashion while your bow crosses strings frequently (yay for the arpeggio runs!)

Kabalevsky Rondo is another great piece, I think, which might address the same issues, but seeing as you hate his concerto, I would also see that you would dislike this piece also.

Bach is a very delicate piece to be played simply to fix coordination, because there are a lot more you need to think about when you play them, such as voicing (there are usually at least a couple) and phrasing (which usually doesn't even seem to properly end, and begins right at the end of one phrase).

I'm using the first mvt of Sinding Suite at the moment to better my coordination and improve left hand finger dexterity, as well as playing different scales and arpeggios quickly in different modes.

I agree with others that you should discuss the matter with your teacher without suggesting pieces yourself because your teacher will truly be able to suit his/her curriculum specifically to your needs, and quite often, preferences! (I specifically mentioned to my teacher that I abhorred Mozart and was never forced to play it, although, in retrospect, I really should have just bitten my tongue and muscled through it....)

I hope the issue is resolved! Let us know how things go!

January 17, 2017 at 11:55 PM · I am wondering just how slowly the OP practices his runs. My guess is, not slowly enough. I'm also going to go out on a limb and suggest that metronome usage could be increased, to great effect. Rhythms are also helpful: long-short long-short long-short, and short-long, short-long, short-long. When there are string crossings, practice it straight (slowly at first), pausing just *before* every string crossing--this is harder to do than it sounds.

Apologies if I'm off base but 30+ years of experience teaching many students who sounded just like the OP suggests that the problem isn't necessarily the teacher.

January 18, 2017 at 03:27 AM · Dear Cassio,

I am so sorry to break your heart by not liking the Kabalevsky! I enjoy listening the piece, even the Rondo, and I do like it! But for me, I don't exactly like playing the piece, it's a bit weird!

I will have a look at the Sinding Suite, to see if this can help my learning.


January 18, 2017 at 03:51 AM · Rushing can also occur for non-technical reasons. You might be perfectly capable of playing a run evenly and in time, for instance, but you might misjudge how long you have to play it -- causing you to enter a mini-panic and the notes to come out in a tumble.

Another example: Rushing can also be due to not properly holding notes their full length -- clipping them short. That leaves a space between one note and the next, which can leave you with the feeling that you need to shorten that silence, which causes things to accelerate. This can be especially true of passages that mix shorter and longer notes -- for instance, the common four-16ths followed by two-8ths pattern, where underholding the 8th notes that cause the whole thing to rush.

So a question for the OP: Do you also rush when the passage you're playing is easy?

January 18, 2017 at 05:36 AM · Kaori,

Make sure to discuss things first with your teacher!

Good practice eventually makes perfect, but improper practice will actually do more harm than good. (:

January 18, 2017 at 06:32 AM · Hi Lydia,

You make a very wise point. I will listen to recordings of myself playing and evaluate whether if my rushing goes under that category.

Also you stated that the Ries Moto Perpetuo and The Bee by Schubert is a suitable option for me to play, do you think that is this possible for me to play well at an alright tempo? I'm quite interested in these two pieces!

January 18, 2017 at 07:16 AM · "My teacher gave me ths piece to get me not fumbling over notes in fast passages, fast runs and to stop rushing."

Hi Kaori, did your teacher say to you that was the purpose of assigning the Kabalevsky? The reason I ask is that there's nothing terribly fast about it, no passage work which is made extremely challenging because of speed. But the harmonies are pretty chromatic and may be unfamiliar to your ears, and I wonder if that's the point. Perhaps your teacher has picked up on something about your practicing, which we can't discern on a forum, along the lines of what Mary Ellen is wondering about. Of course there are many reasons we rush, but fumbling has a lot to do with the fingers not knowing where they need to go, a.k.a., poor preparation/practice skills. Is it possible you've been assigned a piece you can't simply read through and make sound decent, a piece where you have to actually figure out where each finger has to go, that is, a piece you can't fumble through?

There are a couple of aphorisms from neuroplasticity which are important for developing good practicing skills:

"Neurons that fire together wire together; neurons that fire apart, wire apart."

"Fuzzy in, fuzzy out; clear in, clear out."

At some point in every violinist's life, there comes a time where you realize you just have to bite the bullet and do the hard work. The younger you are when you come to that realization, the more years of good practicing and habit building you will have, and you'll also come to realize your experience of any difficult process is more about mindset than anything else.

January 18, 2017 at 07:17 PM · I think that if you trust your teacher, you should do the Kabalevsky, and not spend too much time NOT DOING the Kabalevsky. If you don't trust your teacher, you should think about whether the problem is with you or your teacher, and if you are really really sure the problem is with your teacher, then you should find another teacher.

It's good to play stuff you don't like - It will broaden your horizons. After a while, you will find that you like it. Maybe I'll do the Bruch soon and learn that lesson for myself.

January 18, 2017 at 10:27 PM · To be honest, I have been thinking of changing teachers for a while now, as since 2015, my fumbling notes and rushing problem has not been fixed. Plus my teacher is getting some "bad comments" in the musical community, and by having him as a teacher, I have a "label" that is stuck with me.

I really do hate playing the Kabalevsky, but maybe it is worthwhile practising the piece.

But I'd rather do something more well known like a Bach Sonata/ Partita, or if my teacher agrees, a Paganini caprice. (He was telling me he was thinking about giving me caprice #16.)

January 18, 2017 at 10:39 PM · How much slow practice are you doing when it comes to passagework, and how slow is your concept of slow?

January 18, 2017 at 11:05 PM · Your teacher, who probably sees you 1 hour a week, is not the person that will fix your fumbling notes and rushing. If that is what you want from your teacher, it is always going to be a problem for you. That is your responsibility to fix during your practice time. What is your practice routine--how long every day, and is it 7 days a week? And again, record yourself, and see if you like what you hear? If you can't hear every individual note with good intonation and good tone because you are sloppy (be it right hand OR left hand) and rushing hoping no one will hear, slow it down to clean it up in order to do the work that HAS to be done by you, and you only. So slow down your tempos (students NEVER like to hear that, because they are always in a rush to finish practice), listen critically, and use a metronome. Do that, and maybe you will find you like your teacher more...

January 19, 2017 at 01:15 AM · Jim, I somewhat disagree that one's teacher is not responsible for fixing student's issue such as fumbling notes and rushing. True, it's eventually up to the student to fix the problem by building good practice habits as well as good skills in dealing performance anxiety. It is teacher's job to help their student to identify the problem and finding ways to fix them. Some teachers are very good at spotting and fixing problems than others. Some teachers simply focus on assigning pieces and leave it all to the students to figure out how to accomplish them.

Regarding practice, I don't know the percentage of teachers out there actually teach students how to practice, but I do know, even very accomplished students, such as those who are participating and winning various competitions, don't necessarily practice smartly. I blogged masterclasses during the Menuhin Violin Competition in Beijing 2012. I was astonished to see so many highly accomplished young violinists and their dedicated parents found lessons on how to practice to be helpful.

Perlman's recent advice on how to practice can be helpful:

January 19, 2017 at 03:11 AM · For a good concept of slow practice I recommend you watch Kurt Sassmannshaus's video on practicing with a metronome. Slow means S-L-O-W. It's for intonation more than rhythm but I find this method helps get things much more clean.

Someone asked about Bach G Minor presto vs. E major praeludio. I've not played either one yet but most students I've known have done the E major first.

Very interesting that the Beethoven G Major Romance was assigned as well. That's not a fast piece -- but it does demand a high degree of rhythmic precision to sound right. I actually performed it in December! I wholeheartedly recommend the youtube videos with Renaud Capucon. He plays both F and G, really beautifully.

January 19, 2017 at 03:28 AM · If the OP has done Winter and Mozart 5, He/She should be able to handle the Bach E major partita.

January 19, 2017 at 06:23 AM · Dear everyone,

I do at least 1.5 hours of metronome practise, however I now understand my version of slow is not the type of slow practise that is needed to reach a good standard.

I do rush in easy sections, however my teacher has never addressed my problem of rushing, only my parent has. My mother has no musical background, however she was able to recognise my rush,

My teacher has only identified my uneveness and uncoordination in notes.

For this reason, I am planning to change teachers to a more strict one, around an hour away from where I live. (I live in a coastal side of the country, and by travelling the hour, I will reach the country's renowned city.)

I apologise for not being clear enough.

January 19, 2017 at 06:25 AM · Re: David Zhang,

Thanks for your opinion, I will have a look at the Preludio of the E major partita.

January 19, 2017 at 07:28 AM · Hello Kaori,

Regardless of what repertoire is chosen, I would offer that one of the best cures for "rushiness" and "fumbling fingers" is to play small sections with a metronome, while varying the rhythm and bowing. For example, say you have a tricky run of 16th notes. Pick an 8 note rhythm pattern and an 8 note bowing pattern and apply the patterns to the passage slowly, with a metronome. (I've used the patterns in Barbara Barber's "Scales for the Advanced VIolinist," but you'll find similar patterns in most scale books.) This technique rewires the connection between your brain and fingers and works like magic to improve coordination!


January 19, 2017 at 02:56 PM · Scales in rhythms is very good, and I also recommend the scales in broken thirds, which is one of the scales presented in the Flesch series.

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