May 2008

Holding the violin as relaxation

May 26, 2008 09:24

Our recent round of threads on shoulder rest yes or no ended at a hundred posts with this interesting link posted by v.com member Willemijn Zwikstra. It is a very well produced series with students in the Utrecht Conservatory showing before and after effects of their efforts to reduce playing pain by changing their set up and employing Alexander technique. I think that it is very worthwhile and the six part series should be considered a "must watch".

While this documented study of setup and posture is very interesting, I feel that the students involved and perhaps their guides did not go far enough in exploring the possibilities of left hand support. The emphasis was all on support at the shoulder. This shoulder rest, that chin rest etc. etc. I do consider "no clenching at the shoulder" to be a very high value. I am skeptical of NSR advocates who lift or clench in ANY way. I am also skeptical that a change in SR/CR strategy is a sufficient answer.

I won't reject some support at the shoulder altogether but I do believe that much much more attention needs to be spent on understanding how to support the violin with the left hand. Laurie's interviews with Ruggiero Ricci and her blog post withTricia Ahern are worth a reread but we need much more on the use of the left hand to support the violin.

My neck is stiff from sitting here at the computer. I am going to go practice so that I can relax my neck and shoulders. I know I'll feel better. Alexander Technique for computer users anyone?

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The Texas All State Etudes

May 2, 2008 19:23

This is my third posting on the Texas All State etudes.

Two years ago they required Paganini Op 1 No 16

Last year it was an obscure deBeriot etude from a series that had to be returned to print by Schirmer.

This year it is a bit more standard but also a bit surprising.

One etude is Dont Op. 37 No. 19.

The other is Rode No. 6.

Ho humm.

But Dont Opus 37 is 24 Preparatory Etudes (for Kreutzer) not the more famous Opus 35 that we all aspire to.

I have had a copy lying around for years but I recall only casually studying one of them. They are very challenging in their way but they are mostly in first position with occasional use of 2nd and 3rd position.

No. 19 is a non-trivial study in thirds, sixths and multiple stopping. There are many Kreutzer studies easier than this.

As I look at these etudes (in the Svecenski edition anyway) there is much of merit in them. There is a strong emphasis on preparing and holding down fingers. When I look at these I realize how big the gaps were in my early training. I learned many of the concepts later but wonder how much better ingrained they would have been if I had received them earlier.

In any event it is interesting to see Texas' return to sanity (of a sort.) All State level players should be able to do these well but they will be used to audition regional orchestras and I am sure that a lot of high school teachers will use them in chair testing. Once again too many players will be distracted from where they should be focussing to "play for the test".


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