November 2009

VIOLIN TECHNIQUE/VIOLA TECHNIQUE: Bow to Bow Arm

November 19, 2009 13:29

“When you wrote "the arm is lower when higher" what did you mean?" R.M.

 

 

"BUT, relative to the imaginary line coming perpendicular off the side of the bow and projecting over and beyond the upper right arm, the arm is lower when higher—a dichotomy, of sorts. With the flat hair this perpendicular line barely clears over the arm." Drew — a quote from a November '08 blog WEIGHT / WRIST”

 

 

Lower when higher:

"The arm is lower when higher" refers to the relationship of the right arm to the bow and floor. 

 

The imaginary line is perpendicular to the side of the bow. With the flat hair, the right arm is closer to the imaginary line, whereas with tilted hair the line ascends proportionally more then the right arm. Thereby the arm is now further from the imaginary line—lower from the line even though it has also been raised a bit higher from the floor when rolling to the far side of the hair.

 

 

FLAT HAIR

 

Imaginary line:

The imaginary line that is perpendicular from the bow runs parallel to the floor when using a truly flat hair contact to the string—not pressed flat, but rather actually flat (100%) hair on the string (bow stick is vertically perpendicular to hair—no tilt). The imaginary line barely crosses over the upper right arm—some may prefer this imaginary line to pass through their arm, and that is fine. When the arm rises above the line, there is a loss of natural balance. The angles that allow for ease of weight applied to the bow are less advantageous and therefore the bow arm and hand will stress more easily causing undue tension through the joints and affecting the tonal results.

 

Thumb with flat hair: 

With use of flat hair the thumb should not touch the hair since the bow is amazingly stable on its own—the right thumb is casually bent, as when the arm is simply hanging by our side while standing or walking with nothing in the hand.

 

 

SIDE HAIR

 

Imaginary line:

When playing variously on the side of the bow hair the imaginary line ascends dramatically above the upper right arm. This imaginary line remains perpendicular to the bow at all times, therefore it is now diagonal to the floor based on the angle of bow hair tilt. 

 

Thumb with tilted hair: 

To accomplish tilting the bow away from us, so that the stick is on the far side of the hair, roll the bow with the thumb and fingers. This will bring the bow hair and thumb nail in contact with each other, offering total stability to the bow—no need to squeeze so that the bow doesn't flip or slip. 

 

When bringing the thumb in contact with the hair do not drop the wrist down. The thumb and fingers simply bend a bit more with the fingers feeling the sense of holding the far side of the bow a little bit extra. The exception to this is that the rolling of the bow will cause the 4th finger/pinky to be a bit more in contact with the 1st near-side facet of the stick down from the top facet—a good thing.

 

Important—Do not bend the right thumb sharply (90º) as this creates enormous tension. Try bending the right thumb 90º without the bow and you will immediately feel the tension referred to. Note how this tension travels immediately into the wrist and also across the hand and knuckles into the 4th finger/pinky.

 

Ease

Put the violin down, hold the tip of the bow in the left hand with the bow totally on its side while your right hand fingers cradle the bow and frog, draped and curled around to the floor side. Remove the right thumb, getting a feel for the ease and light weight of the bow in the fingers.

 

Hope this helps…

 

Take care and God bless, 

Drew

 

Author of

"Violin Technique, the Manual"

"Viola Technique, the Manual"

 

”These two volumes offer a comprehensive practice methodology that addresses the full gamut of fundamental technical issues on the violin and viola;…these books certainly chart a course towards the acquisition of an in-depth technical understanding…whether used to build one from scratch or to hone individual aspects.”— the Strad, London, September 2008 www.thestrad.com 


2 replies | Archive link


VIOLIN TECHNIQUE/VIOLA TECHNIQUE: Left Hand / No Bow

November 17, 2009 22:13

and Cello & Bass Technique…

 

Question:  

“Dear mr. Lecher

I hope you are fine. I have a new question for you...in the library i ran into Gaylord Yost's "Principles of violin playing", where I strongly advocates practicing "percussion" with left hand's finger to acquire more and more strength.

I was wandering if it makes sense for you to practice Repetition Hits just with the left hand, hitting the strings enough to clearly hear tone and resonance  (which means intonation also), and if this could be a good mean to practice accuracy and strength (which I sometime miss on the double bass) at the same time.

Thank you as always for your commitment.

Best regards, M. P. 

 

 

Hello M,

 

Yes, that is valid to a large extent, but do not use extraordinary force. Also, do some work with weights for strength and flexibility. Stretches are most important along with strength training. Work every part of your body, not just hands, wrists and arms.

 

You can also use a slow-motion squeeze of the note, concentrating on the shape, form, balance and energy flow into and through the finger. Pay particular attention to any pulling or pushing of the string—an indication of tension and poor balance. The string should go straight toward the fingerboard, allowing for the arch of the board.

 

Many years ago, I learned a Beethoven Sonata in the middle of the night without use of the bow. It was 2 or 3 in the morning and I couldn't sleep—a habit of mine:-) Though I was not working the left hand hard, with the stillness of the hour the fingers sent the notes out like cannons. I actually put a heavy practice mute on so I would not disturb anyone. 

 

In addition, there was a tremendous sense of musical phrasing via the left hand action, whether legato or staccato—technically and artistically, balance and timing became amazingly keen. 

 

I performed it the next day in a master class with wonderful success. Having sorted out the left hand in all its detailing, the bow went together almost instantly shortly before the performance. 

 

When doing the above practice, I was very mindful of the bow though I was not using it—thinking through string crossings, rhythms and styles of strokes, etc.

 

This practice caused me to be aware of unwanted tension that was in other parts of my body, especially the shoulders and bow arm, but really throughout the body. These became areas I would focus on freeing totally.

 

Try it, and I think you will discover many wonderful technical and artistic benefits.

 

Hope this helps…

 

Take care and God bless, 

Drew

 

Author of

"Violin Technique, the Manual"

"Viola Technique, the Manual"

 

”These two volumes offer a comprehensive practice methodology that addresses the full gamut of fundamental technical issues on the violin and viola;…these books certainly chart a course towards the acquisition of an in-depth technical understanding…whether used to build one from scratch or to hone individual aspects.”— the Strad, London, September 2008 www.thestrad.com 



 

2 replies | Archive link


VIOLIN TECHNIQUE/VIOLA TECHNIQUE: Bow arm — nervous and finicky / relax into string

November 3, 2009 23:26

 “Question:  My bow arm in general (too many cooks probably),  feels a little nervous and finicky just relaxing all the time in to the string.   This was of my own doing, and when I really focus, I'm 'discovering' the relationship between each note's quality and characteristics well.   It appears to have helped me internalize the real spirit of bow speed this focus,  in terms of the quality of what I hear versus more speed for more forte when appropriate and so on.   

 

So, what is the real spirit of relaxing the upper arm into the string--my bow hand feels worn out sometimes from keeping the note at the tip(I play in the upper 3rd a lot).  ???   I studied Jonathan Swartz comments on the graduation of flow through the forearm some times ago, but do you have anything to further this along other than said focus and etudes?” A.

 

 

Hi A,

 

Add Basics I to develop more variety and flexibility of control. I is a "simple" study that requires mastery of bow weight, speed, point of contact—all interrelated with quantity of hair chosen and vibrating length of string/position. For someone that does not have my book, Basics I is a study of legato pulses with the bow—initially do 2 per bow and gradually add more without speeding up the tempo, though that can be done as a variable.

 

Stop playing in the upper third so much. It is a wonderful part of the bow and certainly to be used, but definitely not to the exclusion of 2/3's of the bow. Your bow hand will work more in the upper third, depending on the style, character and dynamic played. 

 

 

1. Bow arm is "nervous and finicky":

When the bow arm is "nervous and finicky" you are not relaxing into the string. I am guessing that you are playing at the wrong point of contact for the given weight, speed and quantity of hair used. The result of a 'battle between the hair and string" is usual a very unsettled tone and even a jumpy bow.

 

Don't change anything—

 

Begin wrong and then as you draw the bow stroke very slowly move the contact point nearer to the bridge until you hit the sweet spot—when all is beautiful, resonant and flowing. 

 

The sense is one of fusion joining the hair and string as if laterally pulling the hair into, through and out of the string with each stroke.

 

2. Relaxed bow arm:

A relaxed bow arm does not mean limp and going amiss in path and plains—thereby lacking direction and purpose. It is a highly motivated move, extremely directed and linear in flow. I teach the Crescent Bow path as it is naturally fluid.

 

Hold the bow with greater firmness in the thumb, fingers and hand—I do mean slightly "stiff" temporarily—then do ALL of the stroke from the upper arm and forearm. The left hand is one-with-the-bow and the shoulder joint, elbow joint and wrist joint must fluidly hinge (WD-40 helps:-) accomplishing the flow of the stroke, bow changes and string changes without any assistance from the hand, fingers and thumb. Within one or 2 strokes, usually much less then even a stroke, you will see and feel the need to study the BOW ARM.

 

Now you are on your way.

 

TIP: If your right thumb does not cross the string you are on and slightly beyond, you have not completed the Whole Bow. 

 

Hope this helps—

 

Take care and God bless, 

Drew

 

Author of 

"Violin Technique: The Manual, How to master"

"Viola Technique: The Manual, How to master"

 

”These two volumes offer a comprehensive practice methodology that addresses the full gamut of fundamental technical issues on the violin and viola;…these books certainly chart a course towards the acquisition of an in-depth technical understanding…whether used to build one from scratch or to hone individual aspects.”— the Strad, London, September 2008 

 

3 replies | Archive link


Stradivari Quartet

November 2, 2009 22:14

Bartek Niziol and  Xiaoming Wang, violins
David Greenlees, viola
Maja Weber, cello

November 1, 2009

Wentz Concert Hall

North Central College

171 East Chicago Avenue

Naperville, Illinois

 

Program: Four Stories, Four Strads

 

Franz Schubert            Quartet in G minor, D. 173 (1815)

Joaquin Turina             La Oración del Torero (1925)

Béla Bartók                  Quartet No. 4 (1927)

 

Intermission

 

Johannes Brahms         Quartet in A minor, Op. 51, No. 2 (1873)

 

 

I am not a reviewer of concerts, but had to let everyone know about this outstanding ensemble.

 

The quartet was amazing in the truest sense. I could only stay until the intermission and so missed the Brahms, but what a tremendous display of ensemble, artistry, brilliance and passion for the music. 

 

So accomplished, making technique secondary, this was all about music and artistry of the highest level. They switched from one work to the next instantly changing styles and characters of interpretation.

 

The instruments, all Strads, are magnificent in tone and the musicians brought out all the radiance and depth in combination with any degree of drama and subtlety of phrasing as required in the music.

 

I hope they come back, as this is a quartet I want to hear again.

 

2 replies | Archive link


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