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Mendy Smith

Day 36 - Chin Up, Fingers Down, Bow to String

March 9, 2009 at 9:06 AM

Today I spent my day exploring the fingerboard in a way I've never done before - playing the same passage on different strings and regions of the fingerboard.  With one more lesson remaining with Joel, this new-found comfort opened up more questions than one lesson can possibly answer. 

With that in mind, I experimented with every combination I can think of with the Bruch, picking a few, and formulating my questions.  For instance, is it generally advisable to move lower on the fingerboard as the dynamics increase, or can you continue to shift higher and still build a crescendo?  In a romantic piece such as the Bruch, should string crossings be minimized as much as possible to keep the color by playing on the same string?  And what changes are made in vibrato when you do finally make it up into 7th position on the C string?!?!?!?!

I took a break from practice and checked my e-mail.  Sitting in my inbox was a reply from Joel on this re-direction of our final lesson I requested the other day.  I was taken off guard in his reply - he is as sad about my move out of state as I am.  There is something to be said about sharing a passion for viola that non-violists can't truly appreciate. No matter the difference in experience and skill, the common factor of playing this maltreated instrument forms bonds amongst those of us who love the dark-side of music. 

I went back to practice needing to recollect myself with a scale.  So I tackled the C major trying to bring it up to the 12 notes per bow.  Somehow I managed the feat not just once, but 3 times in a row.  I *almost* made it to one bow up and one bow down.... almost.   Then I went back to Bruch again, this time focusing on maintaining a continuous vibrato thoughout the piece.  While it takes much concentration to do so, I can manage to make it happen.  If I only had a few more weeks, this to could become second nature in short order. 

But I only have a few more days, not weeks.  May as well make the most of it while I've got it.

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