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Mendy Smith

Over the shoulder viola holder

October 25, 2007 at 6:39 AM

I just got my new Bonmusica shoulder rest and got it adjusted to fit me well, and I'm happy with it. As I age, I'm finding it more difficult to keep my 16" viola up to where it should be for extended playing times. I've nick-named this shoulder rest my "over the shoulder viola holder" :::sheepish grin::::

Since getting the new shoulder rest this weekened, it has been given trial runs by most of the viola section in my orchestra and my teacher. It is less tiring to play for hours on end with it's nifty little hook over the shoulder, and my down-shifts on the lower strings are smoother now. Only problem now is that my viola is at a different angle, so I'm having some difficulties keeping my bow parallel to the bridge. Open string bowing and mirror time! I think I need a chin rest that is a bit lower than I have now to complete the viola-ergonmics re-engineering.

Another good lesson tonight. Scale warm-ups were the most interesting that I've ever had. Joel played a counter melody to the C major scale while I played the scale. I have gotten used to doing this technical exercise alone and listening for the resonant vibrations of the viola, or playing the same notes with my teacher and making fine adjustments to match him. Playing a scale with someone else playing a different note (I think it was a 3rd?), brought a new level to evaluating my intonation. I immediately saw (or should I say heard) a practical application in this with playing in a group setting - like in a trio/quartet/orchestra.

We spent a good deal of time on those same problematic chords as before, rhythm, and a bit of time researching how to play one single note in the entire movement - D-natural vs. D-sharp vs. D-flat? The Peter's edition is marked as a D-natural. After referencing many different editions as well as the phrase, D-flat was the verdict.

I have one more music related "toy" showing up soon - a new tuner. This one (Strobo-Flip) is not your normal electronic tuner. It has settings for different tuning systems, not just the run of the mill equal temperment that you get with standard electronic tuners. Joel and I were both hoping that I would have recieved it in time for tonight's lesson, but alas it did now show up on my door-step today. We will have to wait until next week to play around with the new toy. Yes, I'm a geek and proud of it. I'm still planning on getting an oscilloscope and maybe a sound analyzer by Christmas. They are fun tools to have around to tune your music room and analyze your intonation.

From Pauline Lerner
Posted on October 26, 2007 at 7:34 AM
Thanks for the tip on playing scales while your teacher plays counter melodies. I'll try it with some of my students.

Enjoy all your new toys.

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