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Roy Sonne

Phrasing - Is it part of your violinistic world?

February 19, 2012 at 1:15 AM

I'm thinking back to my student days when I studied with many eminent violin teachers including Raphael Bronstein, Dorothy Delay and William Kroll. To the best of my recollection, not one of them ever dealt with the topic of phrasing -- well, perhaps a passing remark or two, but nothing in a consistent, ongoing, manner. When I joined a chamber music class with Leonard Shure it was a revelation. He was a student of Schnabel and was obsessive about the Schnabel approach to phrasing --- and now it goes to HERE, and now it goes to HERE, and now it goes all the way to HERE!! One of my fellow students at Mannes was a young kid named Murray Perahia. I think I learned more about phrasing from him than from anybody else. At any rate, phrasing seems to be a much neglected topic these days.
I'm wondering what your experience has been. Is phrasing a frequent topic in your lessons (as a student or as a teacher.) And what kind of approach have you learned/taught?

From Thomas Cooper
Posted on February 20, 2012 at 12:34 AM
If I don't phrase, my teachers call my playing vulgar. It basically can make or break my perforce, and its the reason why music is to fun for me.

The way I was taught to phrase is to move up and down with the musical line. If the music goes up, go up with it. If the music moves down in the line, go down with it. Dusi Mura, one of the most sought after musicians in the world during her time taught me this, as she was a family friend of ours.


From Roy Sonne
Posted on February 20, 2012 at 3:56 PM
Hi Thomas, You're certainly on the right track, and bravo to your teacher for getting you started in your development of phrasing. I hope you will take it to the next level where you are dealing with the shape and direction of the phrases as well as the different levels of phrasing -- small phrases of only a few notes (musical words) combining to form larger units (sentences) and then combining to form even larger units (paragraphs.) You might want to look into a couple of important books on the subject.
Sound in Motion: A Performer's Guide to Greater Musical Expression by David McGill
Phrasing & Articulation by Hermann Keller
Best wishes.

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