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Mendy Smith

Bruch Romanze Op. 85

February 21, 2007 at 7:19 AM

Today's lesson was GREAT! This time, lessons were later than usual so I was able to go home after work, eat dinner, relax, and do a 30 minute "warm-up session" before hitting the road. I managed to play during lessons tonight almost like I think I do practicing at home. Have I hit on the magic formula for playing well during lessons?

As a reward, I got an enthusiastic "This is going to sound GREAT when you add the vibrato in!" Yes, I still haven't learned vibrato - it's one of those skills I never got around to developing. But - I'm learning it now. My teacher thinks I'm on the cusp of having a major break-through. I certainly hope so!!!! Now only if I can do the vibrato studies he gave me without my cat deciding that the hand motion I'm making means that it is time for a head-scratching session!

The Bach's Suites are taking their long deserved break and now Bruch is getting its attention. This is a whole new style for me, and loving every second of it. Elizabeth - thank you SO MUCH for suggesting this piece! It is absolutely beautiful and it is just as Jennifer said - very rewarding. I've made it from practice mark A to B, and now working on my way to C (ending in double stops - sort of a slide but not quite). This time I was prepared for the fingering changes. I took a small break while he re-marked the next session, then we played it together. Not so bad with the old switcheroo!

After lessons were over, his next student came in and we began chatting. He introduced me to his other student with a "This is Mendy. She has a regular 9-5 (but not so 9-5 hours) job as an engineer. She plays viola just for fun." I'm not entirely sure, but I've got this hunch that I'm my teacher's only student that does not have a career or a career path in music.

Back to sheet music study then bed (then work) :::sigh:::

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on February 21, 2007 at 12:17 PM
Can you share those vibrato exercises your teacher gave you?
From Donna Clegg
Posted on February 21, 2007 at 1:08 PM
Please do. I need to practice vibrato daily and never seem to put the effort in.
From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on February 21, 2007 at 5:32 PM
Jennifer posted a lovely recording of this piece, on the "in concert" section. I listened to it the other night while I was making dinner. I have the music, too, but I don't think I'm quite ready to leave Bach for it yet. But someday . . .
From Mendy Smith
Posted on February 22, 2007 at 3:10 AM
For my vibrato exercises - I must first state that I CAN do vibrato on the cello. The problem comes when trying to duplicate this on the viola.

This excercise is for arm vibrato. He is having me spend about 2 weeks in the "guitar" position with my viola. You hold the neck and place your fingers EXACTLY like you would if playing in normal mode. Watch the thumb placement, rounded fingers, and the contact (if any) of your first finger on the neck.

Then, begin sliding up and down the neck (wide slides). The finger pressure should be like what you would use for a harmonic. Keep watching that the form of your hand is right. Put the viola up to your chin from time to time to check. Go from a big slide and shrink down to a tiny slide (1/16 - 1/8").

When you feel that your arm is relaxed when doing the tiny slide with no pressure, then do a vibrato on a spot with normal playing pressure for as long as you can until you tense up. When you tense up, go back to square one - BIG slides, then tiny, then pressure.

The above practice is something you can do while watching TV, or during orcestra rehearsal while another section is being worked (or for viola, those 26 measures of rests until you play again). I'm trying to figure out a way that I can work this into the many meetings I have for my day job without actually bringing my viola into work....

Once you can manage about a whole note vibrato in guitar position. Do the same excercise in normal playing position. He held the scroll of the viola during last night's lesson. That really helped. He suggested propping up the scroll on a bookcase ledge or something. The point is to focus on the arm/hand movement without worrying about holding the instrument up. The next step I'm guessing is to do all this without the scroll prop.

From jennifer steinfeldt warren
Posted on February 23, 2007 at 12:30 AM
I'm glad you are enjoying the Bruch!
From jennifer steinfeldt warren
Posted on February 23, 2007 at 12:45 AM
(and thanks for the compliment on my recording!!!!)

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