February 2011

VIOLIN TECHNIQUE/VIOLA TECHNIQUE: Lesson assignment: Bach Partita in E, Gigue

February 12, 2011 23:21


Hi (New Student),


Welcome to the Studio—it is great to have you on board. 


Lets accomplish a lot!


All is to be memorized—technique and repertoire. 


Along with the given Plains & String Crossings, Open & Closed Hand Groups, Basics I and 8va Study and Scale Study given in your audition lesson, add…


• New repertoire:

Bach Partita in E Major, Gigue—last movement.

This looks deceptively easy, but is part of your future college audition repertoire and development in all styles of composers. 


We will build your bow control, agility and dexterity for all your violin playing with this gem of a work.


In practicing the Gigue, use a pulsed legato détaché (pg xii, Détaché #5, in the Technique book) for each separate bow stroke and pulse the beginnings of the slurs, as well. Also relate this to Basic I, pg 11, Pulsed Legato.


1. Begin memorizing immediately—#2-6 below will assist in this.

2. Say note/finger/string, e.g., B-4 on E, for everything; 

3. Identify all Hand Groups using pgs 6 & 7; (these are finger interval patterns in sets of all 4 fingers)

4. Memorize when the passage is a scale, an arpeggio or a larger interval leap—note patterns/sequences/string crossings;

5. Begin everything with an Up Bow and then a Down Bow or vice versa.

6. Vary rhythms, i.e., in the 3-note patterns use 1-quarter & 2-8ths; 2-8ths and 1-quarter; 8th quarter 8th. 


If there is a question or confusion go to things that are clear and then come back to the tricky spots. You can also email me your question—identify the line, measure number and notes in question. I often respond at crazy times, like 1 or 2 am, but keep working for the solution—I love it when a question is sent and later I see an email with the correct answer from the student before I respond:-)


Every 5 minutes or less you should be aware of progress, focus, improvement.


Do not be in a hurry. 


Some things take longer and others come almost instantly. Generally when it takes longer, we are learning a totally new skill, our concentration has lapsed or it is just plain hard:-)


Lets go to work—


God bless,



Drew Lecher String Academy


Author of 

"Violin Technique: The Manual, How to master"

"Viola Technique: The Manual, How to master"



2 replies | Archive link

Violin Technique/Viola Technique: Shifting Questions

February 8, 2011 09:16

 Hi N,


“When sliding up do you recommend keeping finger pressure on the way up or lighten up and run the finger along the string and apply the necessary pressure right before slightly sliding into the next higher note?”


Actually both of those and additionally with "feather-light" slides (pp to ppppp touch). The danger in the light slides is the player arriving on the pitch with the light touch and when adding weight onto the string the pitch sharpens due to increasing the string tension.


I do not like the "staple shift" in the most deliberate sense, where the player plays the note, lightens the finger—thereby going flat before shifting—then proceeds to slide to the pitch with the light touch and upon arriving on the pitch presses down the finger—thereby going sharp. This gives a grotesque distortion of pitch. 


What I generally do is barely feel the fingerboard when sliding, and in the final approach the finger, via timing and pitch, sets into the note's location. The character and dynamic of a given passage necessitates a variety of touches for the left hand and the bow. 


Watch the fingernail during the shift and maintain it's angles of approach to the string. The exception to this will be when changing balance, say from single notes to double-stops. For this, the forearm rotation and hand angles can require quite extreme modification—always maintain smoothness and fluidity of motion through the building of speed, i.e., slow-motion control sped up.


On the way down same  pressure question but  approaching the next (lower)  note  slightly under it and fine tuning up? (ex  g string   using 1st finger going from the e to the c to the a .) What do you suggest?


Though more difficult, shifts down are really the same moves in reverse—like a movie backwards. If one shifts down from E-1 on G to C-1 on G and actually drops below the pitch to tune it up this will distort accuracy in the very least and sound drunken in the worst case—which is how we can make a passage a bit that way, if we choose or a composer requests us to do so as with R. Strauss.


Great intonation has a center to the pitch that is unmistakable—shifts are no different. It is as if the finger sinks into the center of the note like letting our head sink into a pillow and then it settles there, as opposed to bouncing back as if on a mattress spring.


In general:

1. Use a well shaped left hand and fingers, moving simultaneously from the arm. 

2. Vary the speed of shifts, initially arriving to a longer note, i.e., 8th to quarter.

3. Hold/support the instrument with the left arm and hand.

4. Vary the weight of the finger(s).


5. Do not lead shifts with the wrist, whether ascending or descending. All parts—upper arm, forearm, hand and fingers—move simultaneously.


6. NEVER, NEVER hang on the strings and 

7. NEVER, NEVER squeeze the chinrest and instrument like a vice. 


The last two points are possibly the areas of greatest confusion and conflict. I have had wonderfully talented students come to me with so much tension and pain it would stop their playing. Alexander Technique and Feldenkranz methods can be of tremendous help.


Our instruments are incredibly light, hollow little boxes—sit or stand tall in the torso and move with grace, ease and agility at all times.


Here is a link to a past blog on shifting in the “GPS” series I did—

“GPS” Shifting 2.1


Hope this helps—


God bless,



Drew Lecher String Academy


Author of 

"Violin Technique: The Manual, How to master"

"Viola Technique: The Manual, How to master"



7 replies | Archive link

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