Schradieck It's all int the wrist

November 12, 2012 at 06:32 AM · I added Schradieck’s The School of Violin Technics to my daily regime recently and though I have only recently started I was looking a little ahead.

About a month ago I asked my teacher how to approach one of the sets of exercises in Book I.

IV. Exercises to be practiced with wrist-movement only,

keeping the right arm perfectly quiet

We discussed how we might use the wrist and how to keep the arm “quiet”. I don't think I'm getting it.

I would love to hear other’s idea’s on how to approach the technique Schradieck is trying to have me practice.

Thank you,

Pat T

Replies (24)

November 12, 2012 at 08:49 AM · Essentially, I think it means you place your right arm as if you are just going to play the D and A string together and then you play one string and the other by pronating and supinating your forearm alternatively and not moving the elbow up and down.

November 12, 2012 at 09:15 AM · Try to observe bowing of some really good violinist. Do good players use active movements of wrist or even fingers? They never do.

The secrets of perfect right arm techique are:

- most work has to be done by arm.

- round motions instead of line movements and sudden change.

- the simpler the better.

November 12, 2012 at 09:23 AM · BOdan????

I was taught to do rapid alternating string changes as much as possible with the wrist - and thats what I see experts do too. The alternative - using the arm leads to the danger of taking off like a bird...

[argeed on the 'circular' aspect though]

November 12, 2012 at 09:23 AM · BOdan????

I was taught to do rapid alternating string changes as much as possible with the wrist - and thats what I see experts do too. The alternative - using the arm leads to the danger of taking off like a bird...

[argeed on the 'circular' aspect though]

November 12, 2012 at 11:43 AM · What experts do you mean? :-)

You are right, just such case (one note on another string only, or alternating just two strings in very fast tempo) may be an exception (the only acceptable exception for me). But also in such cases I NEVER receommend to do it by wrist.

The exception lies in the fact, that we "are allowed" to do such motions not by the whole arm, but just by forearm.

We should also be sure that we don't use excessive motions, in other word, any vertical movement between neighbouring strings should be as small as possible (or how to explain it by my poor English :-)

In fact the better job we make with the whole arm, the less we need any other part of the hand. Each movement need to be just as precise and as simple as possible. We need to create a right feelings in our body and hands at the same time. What we don't see is always even more important as what we see.

There are still a lot of myths in the violin pedagogy. For example the ones, which says we always need to bow in a straight line, we need to make active movements with all parts of our hand and so on... This is why playing violin is still considered to be very difficult to learn.

I spent a lot of time by mending bad habits of my students just because their former teachers insisted on archais knowledge and rarely searched for modern trends.

I am considering making a few short videos, I belive there would be a sense to show it such way, since any text desctiption may be too clumsy.

November 12, 2012 at 12:50 PM · I suspect (not being an expert) that right arm bow action is really so complex as to defy description. All that can be done is to teach rules that will allow you to learn how to bow without inhibiting the eventual outcome.

Thus, 'rules' such as bowing straight are very useful starting points - and is in itself a primary technique that will always be a skill. That does not mean one should ONLY bow straight - a short video by any master shows that this 'rule' was invented to be broken. I've been complemented on my bow arm even though I have so much to learn - but at least I am on the right track. Could I teach someone else how? No, you get a good framework and then you use it. Eventually, with a good teacher catching and correcting your flaws and shortcuts, you sort of muddle your way to success :)

November 12, 2012 at 01:13 PM · so to practice with the wrist only there are two ways I do this. I lean against a wall so my arm doesnt have the freedom of movement. This is also good for curing the swinging arm bowing technique used by beginners. the other is to sit in a chair with high arms and to put your arm again down in to restrict movement. the third is to rest your elbow on a table top and focus on only moving the wrist. I dont recommend actually playing a piece like this but for isolating a body part its pretty good.

Alot of people struggle with wrist flexibility.

November 13, 2012 at 07:48 AM · What Bohdan alluding to is that while the wrist is flexible and does move, it's not the smaller muscles of the wrist that generate the motions directly, but rather the larger muscles around the elbow and the forearm.

Speaking of string crossing, try Kreutzer 13 using only the wrist muscles and you'll quickly see why that's not a good idea.

November 13, 2012 at 09:19 AM · Hi Patrick,

I'm just coming to 'grips' with this too.

Without going too much into which muscle is doing what etc, it's basically an exercise that keeps your elbow still while you move your wrist and fingers to very short strokes. If it helps to lean your elbow against something while you practice this, go ahead, whatever works. The key is to make sure your bow thumb doesn't flatten out, you have to keep the bend in it. Also make sure your elbow is high enough, if it drops it severely limits the action. I learnt to play the Fiocco Allegro properly with this movement. Yes it took a while and I concede that some of the string crossings required more arm than wrist, but it was doable and quite nice in the end. Good luck!

November 13, 2012 at 01:09 PM · "What Bohdan alluding to is that while the wrist is flexible and does move, it's not the smaller muscles of the wrist that generate the motions directly, but rather the larger muscles around the elbow and the forearm."

Nicely put - thanks Gene.

From my own short learning journey, if there is one thing in violining that seems to be consistent, that is relaxing everything as much as possible for the job 'at hand' - and the further down the arm you go the more you need to be relaxed. That may not be much for a (left hand) four-string chord but you still have to maximize.

November 13, 2012 at 03:30 PM · Joni Mitchell... it's stuck in my head...thanks for that! ;)

November 13, 2012 at 03:39 PM · I want to thank everyone for their responses. I will continue to work on this. I am being overloaded right now with ideas from Frederick H. Martens’s Violin Mastery, so I am busy changing and adding to what I do.

I have recently gone from working on too many things to concentrating on playing a few things well. My teacher tells me it is time to concentrate on Tone and Intonation. So I will be standing up against a wall and seeing what I can do.

I like the “stirring a cup of tea” image, that motion is very much what my teacher was trying to get me to do; easier to do at the lesson than a few days later. But now I have a good image.

"You don`t know what y`got till it`s gone."

Apparently it is most popularly (yahoo search) known as a piece by a group named Cinderella. I had never heard it before. And really didn’t listen to much of this time either. But like N.A. Mohr, I mostly remember the line, and I know I’m dating myself, in the Big Yellow Taxi, by Joni Mitchell.

Of course coming from South Texas we always said “You don’t miss the water, ‘till the well's run dry”. Now quite as clear, but to me more familiar.

November 13, 2012 at 06:25 PM · I think the real point Schradieck was trying to make is that the movement should be as minimal as possible- no flapping like a chicken.

November 14, 2012 at 05:18 AM · I think about it like this. The elbow and forearm continue in their natural plane of motion as if I were drawing a straight bow, and the wrist moves up and down within the movement of the arm as a whole. You still want the arm to move in a way that gives you your normal depth of tone, so the movement of the wrist is independent of what is going on in the weight of your bow arm.

November 14, 2012 at 10:43 AM · wouldn't this description "Exercises to be practiced with wrist-movement only,

keeping the right arm perfectly quiet" possibly encourage tension in the right arm?

November 14, 2012 at 03:07 PM · Wonder how much of the confusion might be a translation issue? Was the original in English?, German? or?

November 14, 2012 at 03:47 PM · Please consider, how old are these instructions (1846 - 1918) The similar case is Sevcik. For example he suggested holding the left arm rotated as much as possible steadilly. The reason for such recommendation was: If you will need to use your fourth finger on G strings, you will not need to change your left arm position. This is why he suggested to hold the arm is such position always, also when are you playing on E string.

Nowadays we know, that left arm should be forced to rotate as less as possible (in other words, only if it is necessary) and the changes of its position are highly appreciated (since a topor is the on of biggest threat).

The knowledge is in progress, this is the same as with any other activity. 150 years ago there was completely different recomendations how to brush one's teeth e.g.

November 20, 2012 at 10:26 AM · Patrick, I love Schradieck. If I am thinking of the correct exercise, the one where it is pretty much all string alternations (#4??), that one is very difficult...

A couple thoughts though: my violin instructor teaches the Franco-Belgian bow-grip (look up 'Itzhak bow grip' on YouTube and watch it..). For years I did one tiny thing wrong, and she didn't catch it as I came to her fairly advanced. I was not opposing the second finger to the thumb, but rather putting the thumb between the second and third finger. When I experimented with this, the difference was drastic.

The key is the center of balance of Your Hand, and not of the bow in these exercises. When you have a superior bow, it makes each stroke easier and more effortless. When you move your wrist, the center of balance of your hand greatly affects where the bow goes, in what direction the hairs land, the amount of immediate pressure in the next bow change, etc.

So do two things: experiment with where your second finger (especially) is in relation to your thumb and try one or two measures, then move it a little and try again. You'll hit a sweet spot.

The second thing: always .... ALWAYS use a metronome with Schradieck (starting very slowly), until you are confident in the technique to the point where you can speed up/slow down at will.

You may have a lot on your plate, but many violinists/violists use Schradieck in their daily regimen to stay sharp, and I think it's irreplaceable in many ways.

November 20, 2012 at 01:57 PM · Perhaps the object of the excersize (hankering back to the early discussion) is really to learn to use the wrist as little as possible - that gives you the wrist action with fluidity, relaxation and economy.

November 20, 2012 at 04:03 PM · If want to thank everyone for their advice on how to approach Schradieck Book 1 set IV.

Some days I feel like there is magic in my life and everything just comes together and this is one of those times.

My history with string crossings really started just after taking up the violin in March of 2011. I was working on a fiddle tune and felt like I was either going to take off or impale someone with the bow.

At first my teacher had me trying to learn to do what is best expressed here as ‘stirring a cup of tea” and “pronating and supinating your forearm alternatively and not moving the elbow up and down”. And this is very much exemplified in Todd Ehle’s fifth video on String Crossings (link).

Later I found Professor Ehle's seventh video on String Crossings (link). Which refers to his version of the exercises for the Colle' Bowing (link), which I have been slowly getting better at.

Then just two lessons ago (four weeks) my teacher noticed that I needed to make sure that I was “opposing the second finger to the thumb”.

But this still left me not confident in what the Schradieck exercise wanted me to work on. And then like a great chess end game everything came together yesterday.

A recent discussion on this forum referred to Kurt Sassmannshaus’s Violin MasterClass web site (link), select Masterclasses. And like many who think they can skip the basics I started looking at specific bow strokes and totally missed the bow hold instructions. And that is where I found the answer, or at least an answer; using Kreutzer 13, also mentioned above.

As Todd Ehle stated “just the beginnings of finger flexibility” and on Mr. Sassmannshaus’s website it is the video titled “bow grip, flexibility”.

I really am enjoying Mr. Sassmannshaus’s Violin MasterClass website, but here is a direct link to the flexibly video on YouTube. It looks so amazingly fluid.

I would never have found this had it not been for all of you.

Thank you,

Pat T

November 28, 2012 at 04:27 PM · I've got this same problem with Schradieck. The point of ALL of the exercises is the bow arm? I practice this book everyday as part of my regimen, and my teacher has stated before to play the fourth finger, unless otherwise written, on the open string. Which would make sense if you're working on smooth bow arm transitions.

These exercises can be pretty frustrating to play after a while, when you're thinking, is the whole point the bow arm?

November 28, 2012 at 05:43 PM · The point of practicing the Schradieck with wrist movement only is to isolate that particular kind of motion. It's not that the crossings are easiest or best with that type of motion, but some players have trouble with it and so need to isolate it. Heifetz made his students practice other etudes (Kreutzer 7 for example) with all kinds of string crossings: fingers only, wrist only, "normally" with the arm, etc. And just as Bohdan mentioned above, playing Kreutzer 13 with just "wrist" string crossings would be pretty funny to watch! But all "arm" would be tough as well, at least for the full 2 pages. That's why Kreutzer 13 is such a great etude, because it requires both kinds: arm to move you from G level to D/A level, then wrist to quickly alternate between D and A. But you can only execute that once you understand the two different motions.

November 28, 2012 at 08:38 PM · Nathan, I am not sure if you understood what I meant correctly. In fact,I am a wrist movement fan neither in Kreutzer 13 etude.

It is a pitty, we are not able to past any drawings here. However try to describe a half of jing-jang logo placed slantwise. There is a circle on the bottom side of the logo, before you return to the top in fact, it is the only difference between the desired motion and jing-jang logo.

It is the way your arm has to complete repeatidly playing K 13. (If you would put small LEDs on your elbow and bow frog and plaued in darkness, you would be able to take interesting photo by your camera, using several sec. shutter time.)

No edges are allowed in such movements. There is no reason to split the whole motion (which can be made very fluently) into the arm and wrist. You will be certainly better able to control the motion, if it will be made just by one part - your arm. You will be able to play it really fast an fluent, moreover the weight transmittion of your right hand will be not hampered by splitting the movement between arm and wrist.

As I already mentioned, I am going to publish a few series of short videos showing the main principles of ideal bowing technique. Kreutzer 13 is really good tip, I will include this example for sure.

The only think which slows me down in this activity is my poor English. I found out I am not able to speak fluently enough in English. This is, why I will need to arrange a whole team, dubbing e.t.c. :-) Anyway, I will show what do I mean one day, I promise :-)

November 30, 2012 at 05:07 AM · Hi Bohdan, I agree text is not the best medium for these sorts of discussions! I have video of Kreutzer 13 at my school when it launches in a few weeks. I also agree that it's not really accurate to split these motions into exactly "arm" and "wrist", etc. But there is a place for crossings involving more motion of the entire arm, and those involving just a smaller part (wrist or fingers). Players have to be able to execute string crossings using all parts of the arm. Therefore I think there is value in etudes that focus on one part at a time.

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