August 2010


August 26, 2010 10:12

The following is initially very time consuming, but in so doing our progress gains exponentially. As the skills and methods become second nature, we realize the most efficient use of our practice time.


A visual assistant—the practice log can help tremendously as it is a record of our work and achievement. Not just a record of time, we can elaborate on a basic time log by recording in a diary/log what has been learned and memorized each day along with the method of work used to improve the passage—what rhythms, double stops across the strings and metronome settings, i.e., 8th note = 80 to 136+, etc.


Logging with such detail can be too time consuming for the long hall, but it will set a pattern of work that is clear and focused for the individual to build upon. Try it for 6 months developing your own preference of style and detailing.


Then develop a shorthand on the music page, i.e., write rhythm used (#1-8 in Basics II, pg 13-14, with further variations for variety and development, plus varied rhythms that work with 3 note combinations, etc.—as in Rep Hits, pg 7) and tempo achieved with excellence. 


Double-stops and Repetition Hits are crucial to the success of a passage. 


Shifts are to be given a lot of attention, ALWAYS. Accuracy of pitch is second. Balance, shaping and fluidity are first. Moderate speed of shift, then slow motion, then introducing a slow grace note sliding to a long arrival note. Maintain the fingertip’s balance throughout the motion. Watch the finger nail—it is kept stable and everything else adjusts.


When rising over the instrument’s shoulder and top, think of the sun rise—it doesn’t curve around to get over the earth;-). Of course the earth is doing the rotating, but simply hold the instrument lightly and effortlessly with strings parallel to the floor and keeping it stable. Anticipate the rise by having the thumb diagonally back a bit with the thumb pad (fleshy part) in contact with the neck in order to support the instrument—it gradually comes under the neck enabling full easy support to the instrument. It is an active passive support in that there is literally no gripping or grabbing. The thumb is to have total independence.


NEVER grip with the shoulder and neck—this is one of the biggest fallacies in the world of violin and viola playing. It is not necessary and leads to tremendous difficulty and potential injuries.


Balance, balance, balance, posture, posture, posture—stand or sit tall, breathe deep and develop that ease of motion that comes when gravity is your assistant not the enemy. 


You will be more alert mentally and physically.


Often over-looked is physical strength—it is so important. Especially the hands and wrists should be developed along with the arms, shoulders, back, chest, abdominals, legs, feet and toes—don't forget the neck and head:-) I end up listing in essence the whole body because we use it all. 


In modern language—playing an instrument is totally holistic. 


Hope this helps—


If frustrated, slow down and persist.

If bored, you fell asleep while working.

If unable to focus, move on to another rhythm, tempo or change passage.


Enjoy your achievements, 



Author of 

"Violin Technique: The Manual, How to master"

"Viola Technique: The Manual, How to master"


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