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Mendy Smith

Musical Meanderings

October 22, 2008 at 3:26 AM

One of the community orchestras I'm in is playing Beethoven's 5th Symphony. There are spots where my left hand and right hand aren't quite in sync when I get to concert tempo. My right hand is slower than my left by just enough to make the music sound, well, horrible. I have a speed barrier with my bow arm that I need to figure out how to break in the next few weeks.

So far I've tried open string bowings and sub-divided bowings with my old fashioned pendulum metronome, and the new metronome gizmo (dubbed 'The Merry Metronome' by the viola section). Open string bowings and sub-divided bowings go well up to a certain point. There are passages where my eyes just can't seem to focus on ONLY my part (the divided sections), and others where the left hand and right hand seem to be in contrary motions.

I plan on making this topic #1 in lessons this week.

On a side note (pun intended), I went to my engineer's B-Day party put on by his quartet group (of the vocal, not stringed type). It was a blast. His quartet, A Toast of the Town, did the traditional joke of pretending to start on one piece, but instead do the Happy Birthday song. It made me feel better that I'm not the only one to have fallen for that trick. After the joke, they continued singing other pieces for us party-goers. It was quite entertaining.

While mingling with these other musicians, I couldn't help but make some humorous mental correlations with a string group:

Soprano's - (violinists) everything revolves around the all-mighty violin, even if they are the counter-melody.

Alto's - (violists) are very friendly but horribly misunderstood, and will make even the most boring parts fun and interesting.

Tenor's - (celli) are fun-loving but still reserved and dignified. They are the musical metronome in a group with interesting parts.

Baritone's - (bassists) are the real party animals in any musical group. They pretend they are serious (helping keep the beat with the celli), but will often display antics to keep everyone amused.

Funny how some things hold true no matter what your "instrument" is.

From Stephen Brivati
Posted on October 22, 2008 at 4:20 AM
you might consider playing with the following:
1) Practice fast bowing and slow left hand by doubling (or whatever) the number of each note but keeping the tempo. Then reduce the extra reptitions grdually but with the bow always moving in the fast tempo.
2) Sound slike you need to work in smaller units , that you are trying to do too much at ocne and tightening up. Fast/slow practice means taking a small unit (could be just one or two notes) and palying them in tempo over and over. Then do another unit in tempo Then another for about five units. Then go back and combine two units in tempo. Then three and so on. The purpos eis to prevent brain overload.
3) In fats passage sit is importnat to build in momnets of relaxation and remain clear about where they are. In particular work on any shifts. Pausde on the note before and consciously relax your whole body working from your fingers, through you wrist , arm, shoudler etc. Don@t continue ill you are absolutely relaxed. Repeat this procedure many times.
4) Wasn`t clear from your description of whether or nt you are doing `hooked bowing` practice but this is easily the fastest way to develp coordiantion and speed. Do a search on this site sicne I have described it about a hundred times or so, if you are interested.
5) Work on 8th note two 16th and the reverse rythms patterns for the other method of Fast/slow practice and coordiantion development.
6) Practice with zero finger pressure (left hand) and then 20 percent, then 50 percent etc until yu hav eestablished the minimu degre eof weight needed in the left hand. Do not go beyond this.
Hope ths helps,
From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on October 22, 2008 at 11:26 AM
I like your voice/instrument analogies. They fit. In voice, I'm a second soprano, kind of in between soprano and alto. Just like in violin/viola, where I keep struggling to play both.

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