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Drew Lecher


May 18, 2008 at 6:59 AM

Get rhythm!

“Sometimes I experience difficulty with rhythm while playing especially when the music is syncopated. Of course when focusing primarily on a rhythm difficulty and trying to correct it, inevitably it can cause me to loose focus on other dimensions of the piece such as bowing and dynamics and things of this nature.”

Hi Bob,

Just a brief response — I hope it is helpful.

Main point:
Practice everything in varied rhythmic patterns and varied bowings.

This will enable you to develop amazing control of the hands and their total coordination. Scales, arpeggios, 3rds, etc., etc.

Also the repertoire should be practiced in various rhythms and all in varied dynamics. We play sections multiple times and this is far more efficient and much more interesting.

Possibly the most missed aspect is to practice shifts in varied rhythms.

I give a lot of varieties, examples and tips in the books, but the main ones are:

With 4-note patterns do–
2-16ths 2-8ths and permutate them.

With 3-note patterns just remove one 8th.

Dotted Rhythms:

Dotted rhythms are great in some instances, but generally not as productive as they can tighten the player’s actions. Of course, we must master these as well and subdividing the dotted 8th and 16th with all 16th bows works wonders. Another tweak is to slightly delay the 16th note. This adds a little sizzle to the rhythmic context and can inflect the musical line just right.

Do rhythmic patterns with string crossings, as well.

Have fun!

Hope this helps —

Author of
Violin Technique: The Manual, How to master…
Viola Technique: The Manual, How to master…

From Laurie Niles
Posted on May 19, 2008 at 12:59 AM
I don't really believe that anyone doesn't have rhythm. I mean, most of us walk with two feet. Our hearts beat. We breath in and out. We speak in patterns. We are rhythmic beings.

What is going on when someone is utterly unable to take all that internal rhythm and apply it to simple musical patterns?

From Bruce Berg
Posted on May 19, 2008 at 3:23 AM
As a hs student with Josef Gingold I was required to practice scales with different rhythms. The most challenging was going from quarter, to 2 8ths, triplet, 4 16ths, group of 5, sextuplet, and going down the same. This is a very different concept to the Galamian acceleration exercise, but in my opinion better.
From Drew Lecher
Posted on May 20, 2008 at 1:46 AM
Laurie — I absolutely agree that we do those things, but confusion due to extreme multi-tasking in playing the instrument, fear of error (and being caught:) all come into play. And then — it has to be in tune, in tone AND MUSICAL? Mastery is when it is 'a piece of cake' and 'easy as pie' (I just had strawberry short cake;) and 'like walking off a cliff'??? The last one I have never tried… except when performing, of course. Oh, and it has to be 'done right' — form, posture, flowing movement with absolute purpose and artistic, disciplined control. Now I am getting scared…

Mastery of rhythmic control to the level that it is so effortlessly natural with all of the technical and artistic requirements is a wonderful, wonderful achievement.

And then there are those students and players that really do all of this first off………… that is most wonderful.

So, the rest of us simply have to take that breath and keep breathing deeply while we focus on the desired rhythm — braking it down to just the bow or just the fingers and FIRST OF ALL, JUST THE BRAIN. One rhythm mastered leads to another and another.

We really play in just a few rhythms — duple, triple and dotted.

Bruce — I think both methods and others are all good. The best rhythm to practice is the one we can't do.

From Drew Lecher
Posted on May 20, 2008 at 2:17 AM
One additional point that perhaps I did not bring out as I wanted — practicing with varied rhythms gives mastery of control for the player as no single set sequence or even progressive rhythmic change can.

It is that control which frees and enables the player to express the most subtle rhythmic, dynamic and interpretive nuances into the music.


Hope this helps,

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