Vivaldi's A minor Concerto, 1st. movement

November 20, 2007 at 05:00 PM · I've been working out of the 3rd Suzuki Book and could use any tips to learning/playing Vivaldi's A Minor concerto 1st movement. looking forwards to learning this one!!!

Replies (30)

November 20, 2007 at 06:08 PM · As prep for both the Vivaldi mvmts. in bk.4, I'd suggest you first get a position book and practice the pages that teach how to shift, what pitches are available in 3rd & 2nd position, esp.on E & A strings, and how to finger up there. Good to find some studies in a minor, and learn all 3 versions of the a minor scale in two octaves. Learn how to play an octave harmonic, and either find studies that are in 3rd pos. and include the harmonic, or add one to the studies above. Also play stuff with shuffle-bow patterns (eighth-two sixteenths-eighth-two sixteenths) with small strokes at the middle and just above the middle, with firm contact and solid tone. Sue

November 20, 2007 at 09:00 PM · Yes, Royce, are you asking because you're wondering what to do now in Book 3 to prepare for Vivaldi A minor when you get there, or because you're already learning the A minor? Are you learning this with a teacher or not?

November 20, 2007 at 10:07 PM · Listen to Fabio Biondi and the Europa Galante on their L'estro Armonico CD!!!!!!!

November 21, 2007 at 03:48 PM · I want to thank all three of you for your wonderful imput and insight!

SUE: What books would have what you mentioned?

KIMBERLEE: I'm in transition, between books. I can sight read rather well out of a song book that my congregation sings from. I'm playing the melody/soprano line and it's difficulty is between Suzukies Vol 3 & 4, or at least that's how it feels. I jumped ahead and found this A mionor Concerto by Vivaldi, partly I'm excited being able to play songs and I guess abit presumptuous. I do not have a teacher yet. I hope to soon after the hollidays. There is a husband and wife team that gives private lessons to the music majors here at UW. And I was told that more than likely one or both will be more than happy to help me.

BRIAN: Thanks for turning me on to Fabio Beondi! You've been in my thoughts and prayers regarding your recent trials and tribulations. keep up the good work!

I have alot to be thankful for this year, and thanks for your help! I'm not the brightest candle on the cake, so thank you also for treating me with a genuine measure of dignity!

Kindest Regards,


November 25, 2007 at 04:00 AM · Royce,

Sue left good info for you. The Vivaldi A minor is the piece in which shifting is introduced. Shifting is fundamental and basic left hand technique upon which all further left hand study is built. Therefore, it is highly important that you do it correctly. By correctly I mean that you learn to get where you need to go (on the fingerboard) with accuracy, speed and ease. There are preparatory exercises in the Suzuki book which come prior to the A minor concerto. In fact, the way Suzuki built the repertoire in his books, each of the pieces prior to the Vivaldi A minor are the preparation.

I'd rather not invite pedagogical warfare, but regardless of the method you choose, your goal is to play in tune with ease and facility. A teacher is the best person to make a proper judgement and help. If you're in between and don't have a teacher at the moment, I would suggest perfecting the pieces you DO know, and reading up on all the great advice on There are plenty of threads dealing with shifting.

November 25, 2007 at 04:26 AM · Kimberlee- I agree with you! I know that this is dangerous territory and am trying to be conscience about not practicing bad habits! I recall my teachers in my earlier days mentioning days for a clinical training to get rid of bad habits that have come up for one reason or another. I am happy to say that I have been practicing scales and shifting moving the thumb! I have been observing other violinist,friends, TV, rehersals where I have permission to listenin, DVDs, etc. I love my string friends. They are the first to admit even though they a very good at what they do, they are not teachers and only know what works for them. They are pulling for me that someone will teach me. Someone who can observe and point out what needs corrected, etc. Honestly I am not going into this with my emotions on my sleeves!

I have an apointment with the music department and being that I am staff that is taken into concideration and I have the benefit that my tuition for one class per semester is free, but I will gladly pay. since the age of ten I found my "Opporational Definition" a violinist. When I got sick, no fault of my own....

I can't thank yopu enough for taking the time to respond too me. And if you choose to do so from time to time, I ask one thing...Keep being frank, poignant and honest with me! I have too know!

Very Much Apreciated,


November 25, 2007 at 05:08 AM · I love Baroque msuic when practicing shifting. Why? Because there is a significant space between each note which gives you time to make a silent and steady shift. My old teacher made me practice this piece by stopping my bow even more significantly than what is normal in this baroque concerto. She made me use quick whole bows. When I came to a shift, my bow stopped and my whole hand along with my left arm shifted up to the next note. Shift as a unit, meaning do not move your finger to the new position first or your wrist first, move the whole arm and hand fingers wrist and all. Then resume playing once you have the right note with the same bowing. Do not slide up to the note! There are plenty of exercises outside of the Vivaldi which will use sliding as a way to find the correct note and pitch in the new position, but my teacher said, "Whatever you do, never do this in Baroque music." She pleaded this as tears streamed down her because of the injustices she felt over the years had been committed against this concerto in particular. :)

November 25, 2007 at 07:01 AM · I'm so jealous! I just listened to 1st mvmt, and have a long long way to go to get there. It sounds alot like me interpreting on piano, also making me realize just how much Baroque music had influenced me without really knowing it.

Those leisurely ascending and descending legato passages sort of specifically. But Am was my first mastered chord around 8, in the sense that I could just play there for minor effects. It's still probably my strongest key, but not in a limiting way I think--fave being e-flat. I could sense the a minor-ish, for lack of better words--like one can here a sense of A-natural chordings on guitar.

And the Suzuki orchestral accompaniment sounds like I'll be able to have fun with it. Jealous. Jealous. Jealous.

November 25, 2007 at 07:22 PM · Great, Royce. It sounds like you're on the right track, and you should have this Vivaldi under your belt soon. Good luck! and enjoy that Vivaldi. No matter how many times I hear it, I always get excited for my students to learn this piece. I think it's fantastic that you're so excited to learn it and that you're willing to put in the effort required. That's commendable.

November 25, 2007 at 08:12 PM · Thanks Again dear friend(s). I remember going on stage at Del Mar, when I was a music major, and played this very peice. I apologize, but I once could play this. Twice a month we had to perform before the faculty and students. This A Moinor Cocerto 1st. mvmnt. Would be the last piece I would ever play untill 5 weeks ago. I've come full circle, somewhat.

Bless Your Hearts, And Wish me well!

November 25, 2007 at 09:43 PM · Well, that's a horse of a different color . . . why didn't you admit that upfront? Re-learning is a different issue than learning for the first time. My answer would have been different had I known. Get out your Schradieck Royce. That will bring the shifting back to it's former luster.

November 25, 2007 at 09:51 PM · Kimberlee gave some great points, Royce. Yes, the Schradieck etudes are awesome for shifting. Try to work really slowly, and literally sing the note in your head before playing the note. For some reason, the brain has this connection with you fingers that if you sing the note clearly in your head, then put your finger down, you will most likely hit the note. My suggestion: Slowly hit the shift ten times consecutively, then get faster. This will help very much, even though it's very tedious.

Good luck, Royce! You seem like a very intelligent, kind, and caring person, and these traits will only help you in your violin playing! Keep it up!

November 26, 2007 at 12:45 AM · I apologize for not being up front. I was emarassed! Like I said from the start, I'm relearning, and "was" a music major in College". And this was the last peice I ever played, and thought I would never play again. When I saw it in the Suzuki book alot of memories and emotion surfaced. I've told you so much about myself and feel as though I've given too much imformation, and have been feeling quite bad for saying as much as I have, which is also embarrassing. But when I saw that I have the chance to play again, well.

Kimberlee I meant no decite! I promise I want leave such imparative information out from now on. There are alot of people reading this and for so long my life has been naked and exsposed. 1st. thing that goes out the window when a patient. Modesty!

Brian...Thanks! And you keep hanging in there also!


November 26, 2007 at 02:07 PM · Sorry, Royce, I wasn't taking you to task--only teasing. :) I completely agree with Brian. Follow his advice and you'll play very well in tune.

November 27, 2007 at 01:23 AM · Thanks kim! That's the problem with emails, etc, at least for me, I can't see facial expressions and body language which clues me in.

;-{)) Seriously, I do feel fortunate for the two of you helping, and thanks for getting me to quit looking at life so seriously! You Rascal!

Keep you stick on the strings, and have a grteat week...Both of you!


November 27, 2007 at 01:40 AM · Greetings,

here is an easy and interesting way to practice shifting.

Take a very simple piece that you have long since mastered and play it with only the first finger. You might also try it using the second.

Something to play with...



November 27, 2007 at 03:46 PM · Hey Buri,

Thanks a billion!!!! Watch out for Kimberlee she's a rascal! Still lol how she got me good! ;)

November 27, 2007 at 11:34 PM · Greetings,

Brian correctly said:

>Kimberlee gave some great points, Royce. Yes, the Schradieck etudes are awesome for shifting. Try to work really slowly, and literally sing the note in your head before playing the note. For some reason, the brain has this connection with you fingers that if you sing the note clearly in your head, then put your finger down, you will most likely hit the note. My suggestion: Slowly hit the shift ten times consecutively, then get faster. This will help very much, even though it's very tedious.

I would tajke this much further. In his tarinign course Clayton Haslop identifies three fundamentla of correct practice and playing: breathing, counting and vizualization. The last he refers to isd actually audiation and is the basis of all v\great players. When working on your scradieck one should develop the skill not only to hear the note in your head before you play but to hear whole patterns of ever larger clumps of notes @before you play them. This also includes the ability to do it while playing. What Szigeti refrred to as `literally having the mind in two places at the same time.` I think it is soemtimes called quantum physics too ;)

One also counts aloud. The abilty to perform all these actions simultaneously frres the mind to guide on to a very advanced tecnique. you will find intially that you need ot work very slowly to vizualize well. and you cannot work for more than about ten minutes without a break. Its hard. But the technical dividens are -huge-

Persoanlly i would love to see some kind of research ion what is actually happenign (using MRIs etc) ifone counts aloud while praciticng. I have spent some time on this and pester my studnets to work this way sicne I do belive it develops coordiantion and increase dconcentration. Better than usinng a metronome all the time which can often develop extremly uneven rythmic skills.

Incidentally, this is nothign new. it is all an extension of Lizsts maxim `Think ten times play once.` Most violnist do the revrse. Thats why one hears so many truly hacke dversions of pieces like Vivaldi which are actually perfect for learning this kind of skill



November 28, 2007 at 02:33 AM · Buri- I can't thank you enough! Concidering what you've said, and others, learning the violin can sometimes feel like learning one of the Martial Arts. In High School, when I joined Choir, our director, Craig Jones, had us use vissualization techniques. As long as he was there that H.S. choir always took sweepstakes and placed more vocalists in Region, District, and All State.

I delved into Psychology and Philosophy at my university. The mind of musicians, especially while they are peaking durring playing, their minds can go into the Alpha level. Beta is when we are fully awake. And Alpha is when R.E.M. takes place durring sleep, however the mind can go into Alpha while awake. Competision shooters, Archery, firearms, even Olympic atheletes who win the medels are usualy in the Alpha state. Now this isn't what is meant when we are awake and drowsy!

I hope that this helps and I'll look for books to recomend.

I'm looking forwards to the Book(s) and will follow the advice given! Thanks again.

November 28, 2007 at 03:17 AM · Hi, Royce!

I guess everything that can be done has already been recommended --and by some of the best people on, no less!

I can't top that, but just want to let you know that I wish you luck. Have fun! :-)

December 9, 2007 at 03:17 PM · I suggest that you ignore the Suzuki bowing for the most part. It is not appropriate for a Baroque piece. The dictum for Baroque: "Play the long notes short and the short notes long."

December 29, 2007 at 01:53 PM · I played that peice before. But I didn;t play the Suzuki version. My violin teacher gave me another version (tougher version) to practise and I take a long time to master it.

December 29, 2007 at 06:24 PM · Like others have said, Suzuki version is different than the international version. All those fingerings etc. are a little "dense". I think since there is a lot of playing in unison during those Suzuki play-ins, many many fingers are marked in. If you use it, I recommend you go to a copy store and enlarge it a little bit. The Galamian version is much cleaner and you and your teacher can mark it up without all the extra fingers. Buy a recording that is not Suzuki, because there are sections that are different.

We started shifting with "Concertino" (In the style of Antonio Vivaldi) by Ferdinand Kuchler, Op 15. as a prep for shifing and Vivalidi. All three short sections are beautiful and very satisfying to play and listen to. It can help 3rd position shifts before moving to Vivalidi. This piece combined with scales, etudes, and shift excercises made Vivalidi much easier. Much less complex and intimidating. It is also not so common a piece so it is refreshing at recitals as well. This is one piece my children return to, again and again, and really love it.

good luck

December 30, 2007 at 05:19 AM · I'm not sure. but my violin teacher told me that the one I played is also the copy he used it for his album.

December 30, 2007 at 01:50 PM · Royce:

Are you using the Suzuki Book 4 edition of the Vivaldi A Minor Concerto? If so, many of my students find the Suzuki edition to be one of the more toughest editions. The bowings/fingerings are actually more tough than necessary.


December 31, 2007 at 03:29 PM · Sung-Duk; It is the Suzuzi.

December 31, 2007 at 04:23 PM · Royce, I don't give free lesson advice online or over the phone. But one suggestion is to find ways to group the bowings in the Suzuki edition so that you don't have to do as many bow changes. Even on the 1st page in the 1st movement (towards the bottom), you can group the bow changes to DOWN, then 3 NOTES TO A SLUR UP BOW. In my opinion, less bow changes = being able to play faster and less bowings to worry about. I got this tip from watching Nigel Kennedy back a few years ago when he was doing his Vivaldi albums. Hope that's a start!

I'm not a big proponent of the Suzuki bowings/fingerings. In my opinion, they're too rigid and doesn't allow much innovative and creative artistry. I have personally done better in the Suzuki books when I applied fingerings/bowings suggested by other artists.

December 31, 2007 at 10:02 PM · Sung-Duk:

As I emailed you, I've set this and other things aside since I will soon be having private lessons with a Teacher who has quite many vouching for him. I will bare in mind what you've said, especialy about watching other pros! If there is anything else please feel free to write me.

January 1, 2008 at 05:44 PM · The Suzuki version is an abomination. Throw it in the recycling bin where it will never see the light of day again. All of those added bowings are pointless, unmusical, un-Vivaldi, and a waste of time.

January 1, 2008 at 07:54 PM · Oh Scott! The Suzuki version is actually pretty much the Nachez version that you can still find in a Schott edition. The bowings are not original, and as someone has mentioned, are quite useful if you want to work on left/right coordination. In fact, a baroque player might even have used different bowings sometimes in order to change character. But if you have no need to play this in unison with other students (as Suzuki kids do) then why not change to a more authentic edition where the notes are not unnecessarily elaborated as well? As for short becoming long and long short (as Jerry suggested)how about short when notes are disjunct and more smooth when they are conjunct? Rules of thumb can be useful but it is also best to know when you can and should break them.

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