Mendelssohn Violin Concerto help

Edited: January 19, 2018, 10:47 AM · I'm currently trying to learn the last movement of the Mendelssohn violin concerto. I'm having trouble with the upbow spiccato section and controlling the bounces and catching the string afterwards to play a smooth bow stroke in the beginning of the movement in the main theme. Any tips/advice on how I should practice that part?

Replies (17)

January 19, 2018, 11:35 AM · Can you ask your teacher? Have you? Could you maybe post a video so we v.commies can give more relevant feedback?
Edited: January 19, 2018, 11:36 AM · I'm just a beginner, but one of the hardest things I'm facing these last months/years is exactly that evil bow stroke. I feel it's one of the hardest bow strokes to master, I hate spiccato because it's so hard to master, but I love the spiccato sound, it's so sweet and nice once you hear it from an amazing violinist. One of my favorite bow stokes on the other hand.
January 19, 2018, 12:45 PM · rm is very important.
Edited: January 19, 2018, 12:59 PM · Without seeing or hearing you, here are the most common problems:

1. Being too high in the bow--this is a below-the-middle stroke.
2. Using too much bow on each note.
3. Bouncing too high off the string in the stroke.

Watch how Hilary Hahn does it here (the relevant part begins around 21'30"). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1dBg__wsuo

January 19, 2018, 1:04 PM · Are you using a shoulder rest?
January 19, 2018, 1:17 PM · yes, I am using a shoulder rest
January 19, 2018, 2:08 PM ·

It sounds like you haven't learned to bounce the bow off the string. You should be able bounce the bow off the string, but stationary, using just your fingers, or wrist or the arm. This will give you the feel of the correct bounce, then this up bow stroke will happen naturally. You are probably forcing the bounce now.


January 19, 2018, 3:10 PM · Mary wrote:
1. Being too high in the bow--this is a below-the-middle stroke.
2. Using too much bow on each note.
3. Bouncing too high off the string in the stroke.

Thank you very much Mary Ellen, I myself would be mindful of these relevant factors when practicing any pieces and observing sample videos (my level is still far from Mendelssohn).

January 19, 2018, 3:39 PM · Sorry, the shoulder rest comment was a sorry attempt at humor.
Edited: January 19, 2018, 5:34 PM · Then again Jascha Heifetz and Yuval Yaron played it to perfection in the upper half of the bow. So clearly there's more than one way to tackle this and it is not just a 'below the middle' stroke. I agree that the stroke shouldn't be bounced too high.

Jascha Heifetz:


Yuval Yaron:

January 20, 2018, 7:26 AM · Yuval Yaron Is a monster violinist! Probably the most underrated violinist of the past 50 years!
January 20, 2018, 4:04 PM · Marty - agreed. It's a tragedy he's not more well known. He taught many of Gingold's well known students, including Kavakos.
January 20, 2018, 8:13 PM · Just remember that what works for Heifetz might not work for an ordinary mortal.
Edited: January 21, 2018, 2:15 PM · That’s true. Where you play this on the bow can be determined by a number of things including the weight of the bow - I know Heifetz’s Kittel was very light (under 58 grams). Also bow hold and one’s natural build are factors. Upper half and lower half work equally well as seen in the videos posted above by Mary Ellen and myself of the 3 great violinists.
Edited: January 21, 2018, 3:20 PM · Nate, it’s interesting to know that Heifetz can sometimes play it differently when I thought everything about his playing was utterly the common gold standard :)

I think when you are not in the fields of creative art, it’s safer to follow the common route. In most cases, the starting point should be the common practice, as most of them have worked for a majority (hey, I’m not talking about flat earth misconception :)). But one should definitely be encouraged to try other approaches to test what works best, and to bring something new and fresh to their performance.

To me Mary’s comment is valuable in that it also points out a factor to be considered or trialled, rather than a decision to be followed.

January 22, 2018, 7:14 AM · The Hilary Hahn recording helped me the most, I can do the stroke much better now.
January 22, 2018, 2:42 PM · Everyone's physiology is a little different, and the equipment is different, too. The balance point of a bow can significantly affect where you place a given type of stroke.

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