Mutual enrichment, when both hands encourage each other, is a mainstay of violin playing. Nothing stays still in music, so it's essential to be alert to the pace and the direction of each phrase, and use both hands to achieve it. Here are a few strategies to help get both hands working together.
Letting the Left and Right Hands Inspire Each Other
Do you forget to be expressive with the bow while learning a group of notes? Do your fingers become passive, when concentrating on bow strokes? Here are three ways to make both hands work together and come alive:
Choosing the Right Tempo to Capture the Mood
When you practice a technical passage in a solo, it can feel oddly off if the tempo doesn’t match the style of the music.
While there is a place for slow practice, it's important to spend plenty of time practicing in tempo. Finding the right tempo and the right character will help the left hand and the bow arm work together. For instance, the success of a shift is dependent on fitting within the beat and the flow. Practice shifts in their musical and rhythmic context.
After you’ve spent a fair amount of time practicing and absorbing what’s going on in the left hand and the string crossings and dynamics of theright hand, ask yourself how the phrase lies. Does the tempo slightly move ahead or relax a little? Those parameters will beg for a little technique adjustment, and your playing will become more flexible and musical.
Practicing for good muscle memory
All techniques and their musical counterparts are stored in the muscle memory. By keeping these parts organized, that is, patiently deposited and reviewed in one's mind, they are more likely to surface when needed.
Keep unwanted and faulty information out of this memory bank. Those also surface, so it’s best to be on the lookout for them. For instance, sometimes your bow will bounce uncontrollably during a shift. If you notice that happening, then be ready for it next time by anticipating the shift and adding weight to the bow. Practice and repeat the "no bounce" shift. In this way, you will add positive information to your muscle memory.
Practicing the violin is the art and skill of removing what doesn’t fit and adding newer and richer possibilities -- all while keeping the overall integrity of one's playing. It’s a prescription for maintaining strengths, first and foremost, and getting more expressive at the same time.
Establishing that kind of recipe, a balance of positives and negatives, is the aim of good practice habits. One moment you may be thinking about something as basic as playing the right accidentals, and the next moment you’re thinking on a higher musical plane. See-sawing between the sublime and the ordinary defines the thinking process of a violinist.
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