Written by Zlata Brouwer
Published: December 15, 2014 at 11:24 AM [UTC]
Is there are trick or a donkey’s bridge (we call mnemonics ‘donkey’s bridges’ in Dutch) to read in different clefs or is it just a matter of practicing?
I hope you have a handy tip for me.
Thank you and best regards,
I will share with you my experience with one of my students, who played violin on an advance level and wanted to pick up the viola on the side. I did some exercises with her to get used to reading in a different clef.
Also I will share the system that is behind these exercises. You can copy my exercises, but as you will know the system you can also create your own exercises based on your needs.
First I made my student buy a simple beginner book, which was Sassmanshaus - Early start on the viola book 1 (click here to see exactly the book I mean and buy it). As an advanced violin player, this was far below her level. I told her she would go through it really fast, but the advantage would be that she would build up reading in the viola clef from open strings and up.
After that we did a writing exercise. She had to write down etudes she played on the violin for the viola. She had to transpose it a fifth and write it down in a different clef. This didn’t just save her money on sheet music, but it’s a great exercise to get used to and trained in the new clef.
Just play the viola! My student played violin in an amateur orchestra. There was a shortage of violists (where is there not?) and we had a chat about this. After some talking we decided that the ultimate practice for her was to make the jump: to play viola in the orchestra for the coming season. Of course it was a big jump and certainly scary.
At this point she was already a little bit used to playing the viola and to read in this clef. Studying the orchestra music took her quite a bit longer than normally when she was playing the violin, but the rehearsals and the concert went really well.
These were the steps we took. They are based on a system I will share with you here.
When you are playing and reading notes, you need to make a couple of connections between your hands and head. Click on the picture on the left to make it larger and see the connections between note, grip and sound.
The note is in the sheet music. The sound is what you hear. The grip is what you do on your instrument.
These three are all connected:
The six connections described above can all be trained separately with different exercises. Always train and focus on one connection at the same time.
Your assignment 1
When you read in different clefs the note you see can have a different name, sound and grip depending on the clef. I have added the note name to the system in the picture on the left. Click on the picture to make it larger.
Now there are a lot more possible connections to be made and trained. Can you identify all of them? There are 12 connections in total.
Your assignment 2
From the connections we have identified, test on what connection are well established for you and what connections might need some training. Write down two or three connection that need most training.
Your assignment 3
For the connections that need some training (see assignment 2), create three exercises for yourself to train this. Please share them in the comments below.
I hope this video hasn’t confused you, but can help you identify gaps in your ‘connections’ and enables you to train yourself.
The result will be that you can read in different clefs for different instruments with ease.
Is this video helpful to you? Please let me know in the comments below!
PS: Do you have questions or struggles on violin or viola playing? Post a comment below or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and I might dedicate a Violin Lounge TV episode to answering your question!
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