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Mendy Smith

Bached Out

February 8, 2007 at 7:01 AM

Lessons with Joel are still going well. I got the "You have been playing Bach's 6th Cello Suite for 3 years now. You need to make a decision. We can work on this one piece for the rest of your life like most people do, or you can choose to learn something new with me" discussion. I was finaly able to do the drones well enough tonight with the appropriate dynamics, bowing, intonation, etc with a few do-overs. Guess I was judged as being "Bached Out"! :)

It was suggested to move on to Bach Jr's (Johann Christian Bach) Concerto in C Minor. I'm also thinking some Vaughn Williams - Fantasy on Greensleeves is a nice easy one to work on for intonation and vibrato as well as treble clef reading. I have alot of other sheet music as well that we could try. I can appreciate what teachers have to do in picking out pieces for their students. What to choose!!! Is it at the right level - challenging enough but still within the capabilities of the student.... ARGH! I thought to download some viola recordings off the internet to get an idea of what might be fun, challenging, bringing a new style onto my pallete. I have no idea where to start with the results I got from that search! Guess I'll start with the pieces that I have now and work from there.

For you violist out there: what are your favorite pieces at RCM grade 8-10ish (Suzuki Viola 6+++) for viola?

My callused "dots" are starting to turn into "grooves" now. The shifting is so much easier now with the re-adjusted shoulder rest. I got a "You really did work on this alot! So much better!" compliment. Then the inevitable "here are a few more Yost shifting studies" assignment. I now can fully appreciate how technical studies translate to performance pieces. It *really* does help. I guess I'm sold on technical studies now to my delight and dismay. Now if I can just figure out how to determine what technical studies to assign to myself before my teacher does....

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on February 8, 2007 at 12:04 PM
I just played Fantasia on Greensleeves on violin for Christmas. It is a wonderful piece, and I think you will be able to get it up to a pretty high standard pretty quickly, which should feel good (It felt good to me, anyway!).

If you're looking for more pieces like that, I'd recommend looking into the "Solos for Young Violists" series by Barbara Barber. Fantasia on Greensleeves is included in one of the higher books, Book 4 or 5.

Since I'm new to the viola, I'm still on Book 1, but even Book 1 has some attractive and challenging, but not too lengthy, pieces that can be worked up in a reasonable amount of time and performed for an audience.

As an adult player, I'm finding that those type of pieces were neglected in my earlier education. I played mostly etudes, concertos, and orchestra music as a student. I didn't have anything that I could just perform for fun and pleasure. Having more of that now makes playing much more rewarding.

From Elizabeth Smith
Posted on February 8, 2007 at 3:38 PM
The Bruch Romanze is really beautiful and offers a nice contrast to all the Bach you've been doing.
From jennifer steinfeldt warren
Posted on February 9, 2007 at 12:49 AM
I don't know what level the mentioned book is, but seeing as you played suite no. 6, I'd think you could handle the Bruch just fine. I played it on a recital last summer and it was definately a very rewarding piece.

What about Stamitz? Or Hoffmeister?

The Reger suites are really beautiful, though I've not worked on them enough to determine relative difficulty beyond initial run-through and work on the first few pages.

Or...Enescu "concertpiece". It has some tough key-issues and runs, but it is a good workout and also good for intonation.

The vitalli is arranged for viola, but I have found that it has a few sections that don't work well on the instrument and are much more difficult than on the violin.


From Mendy Smith
Posted on February 9, 2007 at 4:22 AM
Thanks everyone for the suggestions! I'll pose this list to my teacher and try to see if I can find some of these to download.
From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on February 9, 2007 at 7:30 PM
Another one that I thought of last night is called "Legende" by Louis Vierne. It was published in Strad magazine about 8 years ago, and that's the only contact I have with it.

Googling Mr. Vierne gives the information that he's best known as a composer for the organ. I wish I could find out more about the piece, though (like a recording, for example). It's a very haunting, meditative piece. A little sad. It fits the viola sound very well. I played it for Marnie.

From Mendy Smith
Posted on February 10, 2007 at 7:07 AM
This is my short list (as of today)

JC Bach - Concerto in C Minor
Handel - Concerto in B Minor
Telemann - Concerto in G Major
RV Williams - Fantasy on Greensleeves
Bruch - Romanze Op. 85

A bit of variety on the difficulty factor, but also variety on the stylistic aspects.

Thanks again!

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