what did you learn today, part III

June 11, 2017, 5:24 PM · I could swear there was a "what did you learn part II" thread, but I can't find it.

Anyway, here's what I learned today: lately I've been listening to some non-classical music I used to like a lot. One song in particular stuck in my head, and while warming up before practice, I found myself trying to play (by ear) the opening phrase on the viola. Surprise, surprise - the notes were easy enough to get, but it sounded nothing like singing! It was so unmusical. The phrasing was all wrong. I couldn't figure out the right bow speed or how much to use, and vibrato - forget it.

Wow, what an eye-opener. I know that a stringed instrument isn't mechanically like a human voice, but there is definitely a singing quality to viola, and I am missing the boat. What can I do?

Replies (9)

June 11, 2017, 5:57 PM · It was deleted, but not by me.
Edited: June 11, 2017, 6:17 PM · Why would they delete a whole thread?

Karen I am going to hazard a guess that the answer to your question is in your right hand. Also try transposing to a more viola friendly key.

Edited: June 11, 2017, 6:33 PM · I have no clue, and a thread I created (bowing: weight vs. pressure) was deleted also. Why?
June 12, 2017, 12:40 AM · Send an e-mail to Laurie. I don't remember anything unpleasant appearing in those threads.
Edited: June 12, 2017, 1:31 AM · I tried "what did you learn today" in th v.com searchbox and the threads 1 & 2 are accessible, but archived. I notice that the "previous discussions" link has disappeared in the new layout. Perhaps there is a new limit on the number of current threads.
June 12, 2017, 4:49 AM · Paul, I am absolute positive that the answer is in my right hand. And the brain. Somewhere :-)
Edited: June 12, 2017, 6:01 PM · Karen, a fellow violist! <3

Are you normally able to achieve a singing quality on your Viola? You said it yourself, the phrasing is all wrong... You are trying to play a new piece of music for the first time, by ear at that. It's likely that you just need to practice it more - maybe find a score and see what articulations and dynamics are written down that you might be missing.
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Today, I learned the first two pages for Laura Rossi's Battle of the Somme soundtrack. Love Viola. All about those tied whole notes! I do not like playing those weird triplet patterns, some interesting rhythmic stuff going on in the part.

June 20, 2017, 8:45 PM · I learned today that having clean strings is important because rosin buildup makes the strings more susceptable to making weird noises. When I was practicing today, I was constantly making awful noises due to bad bowing but my sound was much cleaner after thoroughly cleaning the rosin off the strings.
June 22, 2017, 7:34 AM · I have learned how to strengthen my left pinky so that I can do a proper vibrato with it one day.

I learned that I can sight-read at a faster tempo than I realized.

I learned that I am still wanting to crouch/hunch forward when I get really serious while playing, and that my bow hold gets sloppy when I am not confident in what I am playing.

I also learned that what I thought was regression (or stagnation/plateau) with the piece that I've been working on is the opposite: progress. So the frustration that I've been feeling (with this piece) is self-imposed and needless.

I'm reminded every day that I practice (and even moreso with my lessons) just how much I love this instrument and am thrilled that I am no longer mourning its absence in my life. As I get a teensy bit better with each practice session/lesson, I feel more joy. So every day I learn/re-learn just how important this instrument is for my life.

Ella: that's a lesson that I learned a couple of weeks ago after switching rosins! What a difference it makes!



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