Practice Efficiency

June 4, 2008 at 08:29 PM · Is there a book that exists that comprises difficult passages of the major concerti complete with bowing and rhythm variations as well as alternate performance fingerings and bowings?

It would be especially nice if the rhythm and bowing 'exercises' were all written out (at least 5 different ways), thus avoiding the "rhythmic visualization" (not that there's anything wrong with that). It would, however, make it a little easier practice if were all written out.

I know something has been discussed about it on in the past. Just wondering if something like that actually exists.

Maybe some of us here on could put something like that together? It would go much faster if we were each "assigned" a concerto, or a concerto movement.

Who's in?

Or does it already exist? (that would be nice)

Replies (22)

June 4, 2008 at 10:34 PM · Greetings,

William, a good place to start might be the Fischer book `Practice.` It doesn`t have the rythms or bowings but it sure saves a lot of time. I get it out whtaever i am working on. Part of the trouble is that it is mor ethna just a question of rythms and bowings. aS youbknow, there are a whole slew of tecnhica issues thta cna be worked on with specific passages: finger speed, contiouous vibrato, distribution of bow weight and so on.

One of the classic passages not in `Practice` if I reclal correctly is the ;last page of intro and Rondo Capriccioso. A less advance dpassage which is in Basic is the descendinf thirds in triplet rythm from the firts movement of Vivaldi@s spring. I reocmmend thta with many differnet bowings and rythms. The three note stirng crosing from the e major Partita is also extremely vcaluable.



June 5, 2008 at 01:21 AM · Buri-

Yes, Practice is an excellent book and makes an excellent companion to Basics. I'm very glad to have them both in my collection, and turn to them often.

However, the problem (not really a problem, just MY problem lol) with Practice, in my opinion, is the examples chosen really aren't some of the most difficult passages in the rep. At times I have been baffled that certain passages were chosen over others. Of course I realize that the passages chosen were done so to illustrate a certain point.

I suppose I'm looking for something like the Carl Flesch Scale System, or even something more direct...a very comprehensive "Bible" of concerto repertoire.

In my mind anyway, this would be somewhat of a practice book for the professional violinist, who has already "gone through the fire," so to speak.

Plus, I believe it would be helpful to have all of the passages written out in the different rhythms - not necessarily bowings- that's what a copy machine is for. :)

A good example would be the triplet arpeggio passage in the Mendelssohn Concerto.

With Kreutzer #2, I now have my students make several photocopies, and mark the bowings, most some of the confusing bowings. It has proved to be invaluable. They actually play them without getting lost on the 4 or 5th line now.

I also like the idea of scale exercises written out in every key instead of just C Major with instructions to "play in all keys." It really helps.

Just an idea....

cheers to you, too, Buri. :)

June 5, 2008 at 01:23 AM · Greetings,

Mendelssohn has a few great examples. The slow movement tremolo springs to mind. The thirds from Paginini 1 woiuld also be good. That makes me think of selected excerpts from the caprices. Each variation of 24 for example.



June 5, 2008 at 01:27 AM · So are you in? :)

We've got lots of work to do. ha ha

June 5, 2008 at 01:44 AM · William,

Sevcik wrote a whole series where he systematically broke down most of the major concerti (Wieniawski 2, Mendelssohn, Paganini 1, and some others). I recently had the opportunity to peruse the collection, as it's out of print, and was quite impressed by how methodical it was. One of my friends is working on inputting it into Sibelius and hopefully getting it republished, so be on the lookout for it in the next year or so.


June 5, 2008 at 03:42 AM · George-


Sevcik- I should have known.....

Can't wait. If you get an advanced Sibelius version, will you let me know via email?


June 5, 2008 at 04:12 AM · Greetings,

i know sevcik wrote a practice series centered around the Beethoven concerto. Flesch had some harsh words ot say about it .;) He felt that although sevciks material was superiro in general once one begins to approach mazsterworks as techncial material one is on a dangerous road. That is something to bear in min, I think.

Incidentally, I do have a book called something like `The not so boring bowing book` which uses extracts from quartets arranged with a teahcers part. I also recall Szigeti`s suggestion (one szell wa sin agreement with) that one use the Beetyhoven quartets as techncial material. Taht doe ssort of beg the question why only cocnertos?



June 5, 2008 at 12:37 PM · William, do you have the CD-Roms with the concertos, sonatas, short pieces, orchestral parts, and quartet parts? They contain public domain material, and would be an inexpensive way to assemble a binder full of passages to keep you busy...

Also, IMSLP is supposed to be back in July, so that would be another great source for printing out parts. (Fingers crossed for IMSLP!)

As for writing out all of the variations, I believe there is real value in playing rhythm and bowing variations by heart. It certainly helps me! The Fischer edition of Sevcik Op. 3 models an elegant way to present variations. If you really want to write all of these out, I would guess that there are computer programs that could do the trick. "Finale" or "Sibelius" might help you out.

June 5, 2008 at 04:50 PM · It doesn't have to be only concertos. I was thinking maybe concertos could be volume 1.

Again, a reference/practice book for professionals.

I agree with Flesch, but it doesn't necessarily have to be approached in a technical matter- to me, that's really a state of mind. And, most everyone practices difficult passages from the great repertoire with different bowing and rhythm patterns. Maybe Sevcik's book was an overkill! That wouldn't surprise me. :)

Anne, thanks for the info. What is IMSLP?

I used to have a link to the CD-Rom of the concertos, etc., but can't find it. Do you have a link?

Yes, I'm sure there is value by playing rhythms and bowing variations as you suggest. Maybe I just have an obsessive compulsive desire to see them all written out.

Thanks for the info. So far, it looks like a job I'll be tackling myself. If I end up doing a movement or something, I'll share a PDF here on

June 5, 2008 at 04:13 PM · IMSLP was a wiki-style website that allowed free downloads of public domain music. There was a lot of violin music. It was the greatest thing since sliced bread. The site was run by a student! It was shut down last year, due to various reasons, but is supposed to be up again (fingers still crossed) this summer.

The CD-Roms are available from many fine retailers. Shar, Sheetmusicplus, and a whole bunch of other stores has them for sale. At around $20 each, they are a real bargain.

June 5, 2008 at 04:50 PM · Thanks, Anne. I found them at Sheetmusicplus.


June 5, 2008 at 05:12 PM · William,

If you can find the Carl Flesch book "Violin Fingering, Its Theory and Practice", you might find it interesting. It's almost 400 pages, with 1750 examples from the violin literature.

He discusses may aspects of fingering issues and illustrates them with literature passages. Usually, he shows a "traditional" fingering, mentions why it may not be best, and recommends his own, based on his ideas. While I don't always agree with his ideas, I find the examples interesting and usually useful.

There's not much in the way of bowing discussions, or orchestral passages. Szigeti has some of that in his "Violinist's Notebook" and "With Strings Attached", if I remember right.

It can be hard to find some of these books. -(

Larry Samuels

June 5, 2008 at 05:41 PM · Sevcik did practice methods for Mendelssohn, Brahms, and perhaps Beethoven concerto. These are out of print but might be found in a music library somewhere. As Sevcik was inclined he devised myriad exercises for all sorts of passages.

June 5, 2008 at 05:51 PM · What's the name of this Sevcik book, Bruce?


June 5, 2008 at 05:58 PM · The Sevcik one for Brahms concerto is: Op. 18. studie. Johannes Brahms, Concerto in D. There may be a Sevcik expert out there who knows the other op. no.'s.

June 5, 2008 at 06:09 PM · Thanks, Bruce. :)

Perhaps Jonathen Frohnen would know? Or has these?

June 5, 2008 at 06:14 PM ·

June 6, 2008 at 03:37 PM · I’ve been putting together a list of tricky bits that tend to trip me up in chamber music….. things like the 16th note runs in the violin 1 part of Brahms string 4tet #3 (1st movement), the 2nd variation in the 4th movement of the Trout quintet, etc. My plan is to compile the excerpts into a few pages (hopefully a few!) to keep on my music stand so that I can run-through them from time to time.

ps- at the moment, CDSheetmusic is 20% off at Sheetmusicplus.

June 6, 2008 at 05:18 PM · William -

How about the Robert Gerle book - Art of Practicing?

( I think that's the name.) Very important book I think.

June 8, 2008 at 08:23 PM · I am the friend of George inputting this stuff into Sibelius, so I have sitting next to me a good portion of the Sevcik Analytic Studies.

Op. 17-21 are of the concertos.

Op. 17 is Wieniawski 2, about 70 pages

Op. 19 is Tchaikovsky concerto

Op. 20 is Paganini 1st Concerto

Op. 21 is Mendelssohn Concerto

I'll assume for the moment Op. 18 is Brahms. Apparently the Brahms one isn't entirely useful hence I'm not making an edition of it--also Brahms really is the sort of concerto you should have the technique to play so that you only have to focus on the music.

Additionally there are a large collection of Op. 16 analyses; currently I have those for Paganini's Le Streghe and Moses variations, Ernst Airs Hongroise, Bazzini La Ronde des Lutins, and Wieniawski Scherzo-Tarantelle. It takes a long time to format this stuff but as George said, in about a year something might come of all of it. There are more analytics than these, of which my teacher Charles Castleman has copies, but they are (according to him) of lesser importance, therefore they are not yet my focus.

November 4, 2008 at 08:36 PM ·

I just found this thread.  Has there been any progress made?  I'd really like to get my hands on this sort of stuff, useful or not. :)


November 4, 2008 at 10:01 PM ·

I feel that looking for this kind of book is like asking for someone to do your thinking for you.

There is no possible way you can practice every pattern (in every position). Some time ago I calculated the number of plausible finger patterns on the violin and even calculated the number of sequences of any two finger patterns (not counting changes with shifts) . The number is absurdly large and when you add in shifting, bowing patterns, string crossing patterns etc. one quickly realizes that a "monkey at the keyboard" approach to practicing has no promise for developing technique. No one can write a big enough book and no one has the time to incorporate it fruitfully in one's practice.

I think one would be far better off working on very basic technique and then applying that thoughtfully to whatever challenge was particularly urgent. The carryover to the next challenge is likely to be enormous.

I cite as evidence, Sevcik and Dounis. They both published volumes of very interesting studies. Everything the published is but a drop in the bucket compared to the possibilities. On the other hand Dounis did publish his Daily Dozen which are quite reductive and very useful for extending one's technique.

But in the end we have to do all our own thinking.

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