Looking for a practice buddy...

January 5, 2013 at 05:42 AM · I am wanting to learn a new piece, no concerto, maybe something unaccompanied. Bach, Ysaye, other suggestions welcome. Would anyone like to learn together? I'm not taking lessons and I find that it takes forever to pick up new stuff without a weekly goal and a person nagging me. I don't know how (or if) it would work, but maybe weekly practice goals, updates, discussions of technical difficulties? Ideas welcome

Any takers?

Replies (100)

January 5, 2013 at 07:05 AM · Paganini's Caprice #1.

January 5, 2013 at 11:53 AM ·

January 5, 2013 at 07:45 PM · I'll bite.

Let me know what piece you want to do and I will order the music.

It's a new year and sounds like a good way to get me to learn something new.

January 5, 2013 at 10:41 PM · I'm flexible on the piece. Let's get a few options then decide. Eric, you're going with the Paganini?

I was thinking Ysaye Danse des ombres? Or maybe a Beethoven Sonata if the Ysaye is too impractical?

If I have the music, I can scan and email.

January 6, 2013 at 12:25 AM ·

January 6, 2013 at 01:32 AM · I started looking at the Paganini a few days ago out of curiosity and have been "toying" with the first section....or rather it has been toying with me.

January 8, 2013 at 06:34 AM · So are we doing Caprice #1 or something else? Just checkin. It is an ambitious choice lol, and my dog will suffer but it would be good for me.

January 8, 2013 at 01:57 PM · If you guys want- this is a democracy. But I really hate Paganini. I know I'm a violinist and I'm not supposed to, but I think the Caprices are boring. Not easy- not easy, but boring. Like Calculus. I would like to play something more melodic, but as I said before, anyone who wants to be in gets a vote.

January 8, 2013 at 05:05 PM · Well this is supposed to be for fun, so let's do something else that you think would be fun.

I haven't really got any suggestions. I am kinda trying to stay out of choosing. Anything you guys choose is gonna be good for me.

I will put this as positively as I can. All areas of my violin playing could use improvement lol so any piece you choose will cover some area that needs improvement.

January 8, 2013 at 09:19 PM · Paganini boring? Calculus boring?!!!!!

And I quote:

"I wanted to play Paganini, so I just went for it. And I don't care what people say- Paganini played at 30 beats per minute is just as beautiful as those ridiculously fast 'interpretations.' "


January 9, 2013 at 12:14 AM · I only said Paganini because I couldn't spell Wieniawski. I still say Ysaye- or something more melodic than Paganini. Let's decide tonight and start tomorrow?

January 9, 2013 at 12:49 AM · Well, there is that cantabile.

Love the Wieniawski Polonaise (D major?) and Sarasate.

Then there's that Dvorak Romance thingy mentioned elsewhere.

So many possibilities.

January 12, 2013 at 08:02 PM · Any decisions made?

January 13, 2013 at 03:03 AM · Sorry, I've had some home improvement issues :( and $1,500, a new sewer line, and a few days later, I am ready to refocus.

We have suggestions of:

Ysaye #4

Ysaye #3, 3rd mvmt. (mine BTW)

Paganini #1

prokofiev solo violin

Dvorak Romance thingy. ;)

Rode Caprice #1 (also my suggestion, not a super hard one, but pretty sounding and might give us something easy while we work out the kinks of the practice buddy system.)

Let's say the suggestions are closed and hold a vote. Starting...NOW.

January 13, 2013 at 10:39 AM · I've already started the Dvorak Romance (thingy lol?), but am really quite happy to do any of them. I vote for the Rode Caprice #1 for the reasons you stated.

January 13, 2013 at 11:20 AM · My vote is for Ysaÿe 4.

Just played through Ysaÿe 3 last movement, to see what it's like. It would be a very ambitious project for me: spare a thought for my family!

Rode #1 is more playable: I would be OK with that.

I'll ask my teacher tomorrow.

How much time does each of us have for practice? In my case, it will be some evenings, and most weekends.

It would be interesting to let one another know which difficulties we perceive, and how we tackle them. A piece would be more interesting in this respect than an etude, because in etudes the difficulties are showcased.

And how about audio?

January 13, 2013 at 05:34 PM · I'd like to participate as well, and vote for the Rode #1.

January 14, 2013 at 02:09 AM · Rode #1 it is. This isn't super hard, so we should be able to blow through this pretty quickly. I have the Galamian edition, so that's the one I'll be working with.

Should we post here or post on a blog or a new topic?

Any brave souls who would like to post a youtube video or sound clip of week 1 are welcome to. I don't know of any way to post a sound clip, so any suggestions there would be welcome.

This weeks assignment:

1. Listen to some recordings- there are lots on YouTube

2. Play through it (With or without the trills.)

3. Mark any parts you are having trouble with and post the measure numbers here.

I looked at it tonight. The rhythm in the first section was really hard for me. That's going to be my challenge. I already know it.

Good Luck!

January 14, 2013 at 04:03 AM · My favorite of the recordings on youtube is the Shumsky recording. See link below...

Oscar Shumsky Rode Caprice 1

January 14, 2013 at 06:55 PM · Thanks Terry- Loved that! It's like a feather caught in a draft. I've been interpreting my beginning as a small cat caught in a trap. I think I'll try to change directions.

January 14, 2013 at 07:29 PM · Hi Eugenia - It seems to me that Shumsky sees the cantabile section as being a series of long held notes, with really long ornamentations (the 16th and 32nd notes). I really like that and it makes the etude very singing (e.g. cantabile). But it probably should be played pretty strictly in tempo to begin with, before trying to make it sound ornamented.

Another idea a friend of mine would say (I'm looking at you Albert!) is to think about breathing and bowing. See if you can coordinate your exhales with downbows and inhales with upbows. Or exhale with the beginning of the phrase and inhale at the end of the phrase. It helps both the phrasing and the tone quality.

January 15, 2013 at 06:14 AM · Here are some of the things that I'll pay attention to in Rode #1.

Rhythm, phrasing, dynamics, bowing in the Cantabile;

intonation in bar 14;

jumps such as in bars 20, 26, 46;

variety in bowing;

not believing "this is easy" or "this is difficult" :)

Good luck to us all!


Edit: I have the Peters/David edition.

Another edit: one way to store audio on the net is through SoundCloud.com.

January 15, 2013 at 10:47 AM · Just played (plowed?) through the piece twice, following Eugenia's instructions, without the trills.

Had never touched it before, as indeed I've never gone beyond Kreutzer in the way of etudes before. Having said that, the piece reminds me a lot of the Kreutzer trill etudes. If you can do the Kreutzer trill etudes you can do this one too, I'm sure. One of the interesting aspects of this piece is that, to facilitate the trills, you play passages in an unconventional position.

The measures that stopped me most were those between 30 and 35 where the harmony is unnatural to my ear, and when a melody is not natural to my ear I find it automatically much harder to play. Something else that paused me is the jump in measure 28 from E to E where you have to immediately trill on the second E, and a similar jump from A to A in the next measure 29.

Eugenia, about the rhythm in the Cantabile, I'd like to echo what Terry already said: you just stick to the three main beats per measure and safely treat the rest as decoration following your musical instinct. Don't go analyzing this down to every individual 64th note.

If I may offer a small tip in anticipation of working on the trills: when playing short trills in fast passages, make sure not to press too hard with the finger of the base note, so that the next finger experiences no tension from its neighbor. In this way you can do a quick 2-trill in a relaxed manner.

I'm going to lay this aside now until further instruction by Eugenia. Indeed I'm going to take this step by step, no ambition to run ahead on this one.

A final thought: should we compare editions? I guess they could differ on the fingerings? My edition is from a CD Sheet Music CD I once bought, it's a good CD with many methods and etudes, but unfortunately it does not mention the original editions. Here are the first two staves, perhaps someone recognizes it:


January 16, 2013 at 01:10 AM · It doesn't look like Schirmer, which is what I have.

It seems that the cantabile section calls for a light bow away from the bridge.

I think that the moderato section calls for a heavier bow closer to the bridge, with the staccato stroke executed primarily with the fingers and hand.

REVISION: the notes, bowings, and fingerings match the Schirmer edition. But the legend on the top of the music is slightly different than Schirmer.

January 16, 2013 at 02:50 AM · I have the Galamian edition (I can't remember the publisher). The fingerings are strange, eg. the first measure is 4-3-1 all on the A string. Other fingerings are- let's say not what I would do. But I do see the logic. Picking those notes out of nowhere is difficult, but it's sometimes necessary. Other fingerings are good preparation, and isn't that what an etude is? For right now, I'm going with those fingerings in the hope of making me a better person, but I may have to change some of them.

A lot of the weird fingerings are commonly used, but it occurred to me that they are only common because Galamian has edited everything. Hmmm...

January 16, 2013 at 02:53 AM · Bart- right on- I'm working on exactly the same things. Especially the rhythm and dynamics of the cantabile. If those aren't right, it's going to be sloppy and dull.

January 16, 2013 at 06:28 AM · I've started it. Read through it a couple times yesterday. Now the real work begins lol. I like it though. Good stuff to work on.

Terry, next time we get together, we can play it.

January 16, 2013 at 11:47 AM · Eugenia, it seems counterintuitive, but I find that shifting slowly for the notes that you have no guideposts, aka picking notes out of nowhere, works best. I also would have no qualms about changing fingerings to suit my hand. But I'll have to try 4/3/1 on the a-string to start and see what I think. It might sound more cantabile that way.

You're on Albert, we should totally play this for each other next time we meet!


January 16, 2013 at 03:24 PM · Hi Eugenia and friends. This is a great thread. Really productive and vibrant. Bravo to you all. If it's OK with you I would love to participate in the discussion even though I am not actively practicing the work(s) at the moment. Thanks. Roy

January 16, 2013 at 08:36 PM · Yes, Roy, I agree completely. This practice buddy thing is a great idea. Thank you, Eugenia.

Today's practice diary: tackled the jumps by first making myself at home in the target position. Bar 37, second triplet, to first position (!) is a good example. The idea is that the jump becomes much easier with a good idea about where to jump to.

And tempo! I had been living in a fool's paradise by playing much too slow. 120 for a triplet, as my edition wants it, is too fast for me: I'll settle for 84, 90, or thereabouts. That still feels quite fast.

Practicing this way requires concentration: I need a rest every 15 minutes. How is that with you all? Can you manage longer periods?

January 16, 2013 at 11:02 PM · Like Eugenia I am generally reluctant to change fingerings in an etude, after all, it is an etude. Of course that is relative once you realize that there are many editions all with different fingerings. By the way IMSLP has a really old edition in French (it's the first item on the list) and the foreword of that claims to have the original indications by Rode, so I guess that includes the fingerings as intended by Rode himself.

Terry, thanks for helping trying to track down my edition. But it's not quite the same as the Schirmer, at least not the Schirmer that is on IMSLP, I spotted quite a few differences. Anyway, this is not so important.

Bart, the "jump" to the second triplet in bar 37, in my book, is from D in 3rd position to A# in 1st, both on the E-string. That's not much of a jump, so I assume you mean something else?

I agree that 120 beats per minute for the Moderato is very fast. Oscar Shumsky (linked above by Terry) plays it much slower than that and I'm not going to try to be better than him ;-)

January 16, 2013 at 11:22 PM · Roy, all are welcome!

Thanks for the tip, Jean, I'll check out the french version.

I'm nowhere near tempo yet, I'm just trying to get all the position work in order. Still stomping through it. The cantabile was much better. With the metronome, I can keep it in tempo, but without the metronome, it slows.....down......to.....a.......crawl. I can't hear it while I'm playing, but when I listen to a recording, it's so obvious. Does anyone else have this problem? Does anyone else think this could be related to why my husband always says I'm late everywhere? ;)

Also, when I did the trills in the cantabile, I decided that my trills wouldn't be up to snuff for the moderato section. So in preparation for the crappy trills to come, I'm going to incorporate some Sevcik trill studies in my daily warm up exercises.

Those measures that don't *sound melodic are hard for me too. But I think after a week or so of practicing, my ear will get used to the way that it sounds and it will come together.

January 17, 2013 at 12:58 AM · Roy, I was hoping all along that you would chime in!

It seems that the tempo can be anything you want it to be so long as it sounds cantabile and moderato.

I find that practicing it under tempo is beneficial, especially for the moderato section. I intend to try groupings and rhythms later to try to speed it up. I'm also finding that playing it quieter rather than louder to be helpful to hear details.

Eugenia, Maybe try slowing the entire cantabile section down. I think it can be quite slow and still sound pretty effective. The trickiest part is the long series of 32nds. You might try making the cantabile section tempo what you like that run to sound like.

January 17, 2013 at 01:12 AM · Eugenia,

One practice strategy that I have found very valuable is to try to find a way to temporarily eliminate some of the difficulties in order to get at the musical essence of the piece. In this case, in the adagio, for example, you could practice it with whatever bowing and fingering is most comfortable, for example -- you could play the first measure in first position with a separate bow on each quarter note. In the third measure a separate bow on each eighth note. In the fifth measure eliminate the trills. If you practice it that way for a couple of days, with and/or without a metronome, then you will start to internalize it and be able to play it beautifully and convincingly. Then you can gradually return to the original bowings and fingerings, etc, while hanging on to the musical framework you have established.

January 17, 2013 at 02:22 AM · Roy and Terry,

I don't really have a problem with the notes, it's maintaining an even tempo. It's a general problem with my playing. I speed up and slow down with the musical phrase. It's really obvious in the cantabile.

January 17, 2013 at 11:47 AM · Roy, that's a great strategy that the other violinist in my string quartet will sometimes employ (and that I should more often). I tend to try and analyze what my problem spots are. Your suggestion can simplify the problem without much analysis, which can be a speedier way to a solution. It also is a great reminder what the key musical elements are in a piece. Terry

January 17, 2013 at 12:30 PM · Jean, I included anything that involves a change of position and is not reliably in tune, in my hands. I did mean the change to first position, bar 37, beat 2. Probably the trouble is the unusual position of the fingers: f##, g#, a#, b, not the jump or shift per se. That's why, imho, it is a good example for the know-where-to-shift strategy.

If you can play it without all this ado, I congratulate you, and I would strongly advise against making a problem out of it!

January 17, 2013 at 01:58 PM · Eugenia, to work on trills I would personally suggest not Sevcik but the Kreutzer trill etudes. Because what you need for this piece is a quick light 2-trill, as you can hear in Shumsky's performance. You don't cultivate that by doing long laborious stretches of Sevcik-like "drilling".

January 18, 2013 at 02:22 PM · Jean, I've done both, and for me, the Sevcik worked better. I can get a good trill with Kreutzer, but I don't have much control over it. Kreutzer makes you trill over and over while Sevcik develops the movements of the trill. I sort of phased the Sevcik out, but when I religiously practiced him, I had much better finger control, not just in the trills- but everywhere. I usually hate Sevcik method books, but the trill books have worked really well for me.

January 18, 2013 at 02:47 PM · Hi Eugenia, Even though you don't have a problem with the notes, may I suggest that you give this strategy a try at least once. It can open doors and resolve problems in surprising ways.

January 19, 2013 at 04:14 PM · Ahh.. I've done it. Take 1, for your enjoyment -- or otherwise.

I would be very grateful for constructive comment.

January 19, 2013 at 07:37 PM · Bart, I'll reserve constructive criticism until after I post mine. You sound great, very musical. I really liked it. Congratulations!! Terry

January 19, 2013 at 08:40 PM · Very impressive Bart. Where/how did you record yourself? The sound quality is impressive as well.

January 19, 2013 at 09:21 PM · Terry and Jean, thank you. Recording was done in my practice room (about 4*3*2.5 m) with a Zoom H4 recorder. I used Audacity to add a little reverb.

Edit: took out the reverb again. For performance it would be OK, but for practice it is a little like cheating.

January 19, 2013 at 09:21 PM · Dat was vreselijk goed eigenlijk. Nu achteruit.

January 19, 2013 at 09:48 PM · !lew U knaD !uoY knahT

January 19, 2013 at 10:52 PM · Bart it is even a greater mystery to me now that someone who plays as well as you do refers to a change from third position to first position as a "jump"! :-) :-)

and Eugenia, thanks for defending Sevcik.

Now if you all allow me I will crawl back into my hole ;-)

January 20, 2013 at 01:02 AM · Jean, You don't have to get in the hole! I don't like Sevcik on everything, but the trill studies worked well for me. I never really 'got' Kreutzer. But that's just me.

Bart, really outstanding! Lovely tone, great intonation. The only thing that really stood out as needing improvement was the shifts in the cantabile. But wow! Great performance. You've set the bar quite high. I gotta go practice...

January 20, 2013 at 01:02 AM · By the way, how is everyone else doing?

January 20, 2013 at 10:15 AM · Eugenia, this Rode #1 caprice is very, very similar to some Kreutzer etudes. I had voted for Rode precisely because I wanted to see what life is beyond Kreutzer, and I guess psychologically I was a bit turned off when I got this piece out only to notice that it is very Kreutzer-like.

But the main reason why I am currently stalled on this little project is that I just got four new pieces to practice for my part in the symphonic ensemble where I am playing and I need to give priority to that.

By the way I really want to get such a Zoom recorder that Bart uses. Sometimes I do record myself using the built-in microphone of my laptop, but that really sucks, and it's not just my playing ;-)

January 21, 2013 at 12:17 AM · Okay, it's not perfect (DUH!) but here it is. Rip it apart guys (and gals)!!! Seriously, any comments welcome.

My mea culpa is that my kids tore their clothes off and were screaming while running around the house while I was recording. (I'm actually not kidding). Just imagine how great I'd sound without naked screaming kids! ;)

Terry Hsu Rode Caprice #1 Take 1

January 21, 2013 at 05:29 AM · Bart,

I need to add a few disclaimers for any comments I have for your playing. First of all, just because I can comment on something, is not any assurance I can convincingly play it too! I will try not to make any comments that I can't really back up though.

First of all, your sound and your intonation, with a few minor exceptions, are really good. The shift in the cantabile (yes, the one that I kind of messed up too) is not quite in rhythm. I found that if I shifted it slowly, with a light contact on the fingerboard, that I could hit it fairly reliably. Alas, I did not do so in my recording. But I also didn't want to rerecord it, there's no guarantee that the overall recording would've been better.

I noticed that there were some residual string plucking sounds in your recording, do you have any thoughts on how you might fix those? It's minor and not overly distracting but it was there. There is a section in the moderato that goes from forte to piano again, then has a crescendo that could be more convincing.

I'd like to hear how you do your trills the way that you do. They're quite clean. Do you do any trill studies? I've never done any trill studies before.

I found that the faster that I played it, the sloppier it got, so I chose a rather more moderate tempo than the tempo marking. I got caught running out of bow at the beginning of the cantabile.

Thanks for being brave and posting first! I may have another listen later and add on to this post.

Hopefully we get comments and recordings from everyone else. I'm curious what general impressions you had on this etude, how you approached it, the manner in which you practiced it. Did it help your playing to work on this etude and it what ways?


January 21, 2013 at 12:37 PM · Terry, the link didn't work for me, it brings me to the main SoundCloud page, but searching there for your name I found it. Haven't had a chance yet to do it justice and listen to it carefully, though. But something quick that strikes me both in your recording and in Bart's recording as well is that the violin sound is a bit "muted", don't know how to better describe it, but the typical sharper aspects of the typical violin sound are missing in both recordings. Is this an artifact of the recording technique you use? Sorry I know really nothing about recording (probably off topic, apologies).

January 21, 2013 at 04:47 PM · Jean, if you search for "Terry Hsu" on SoundCloud, one of the results will be a Terry Hsu, violin, in Portland. That's the one, obviously, because he has recorded a very good Rode Caprice #1. Re recording devices: if you search for "recorder" on V.com you'll find a number of informative threads, and a few about the recorder as a musical instrument. The Zoom H4 has been discontinued, but there are alternatives from Zoom, Tascam, Olympus, Roland. There is even a HD video camera from Zoom that claims to have decent sound. I haven't heard it yet.

Eugenia, thank you. Those shifts do need attention, and I had not given them any. This is one of the things practice buddies are good at: drawing attention to blind spots.

Terry, thank you for your lengthy and useful feedback on my performance. Re shifts, see above. I believe the string plucking sounds are due to tension, nerves, lack of balance, things like that. Dynamics tend to be inaudible to the audience unless you subjectively exaggerate them; I'll keep that in mind. My teacher tells me the same thing, especially at the forte end of the range: play louder! I have come to the conclusion that the best thing about my performance is its room for improvement.

As to trills, apart from the Kreutzer trill studies I have not done much explicitly related to trills. But exercises on finger independence, by Sevcik and Iftinchi, may have helped. Sevcik's are all over his repertoire studies. Another thing is positioning your hand so that the fingers are comfortable. The first trill in bar 24 is a good example: I found it got better when I remembered to bring my hand (arm, elbow) over to the G string.

I very much enjoyed your tone, and your vibrato in particular: did you do anything special to get it that way, or did it come naturally?

I'll comment in more detail in a private message.

Off to practice now,


edit: has anyone heard Axel Strauss's recordings of the Rode Caprices, on Naxos? They are awesome, even more so when I try to play a Caprice myself ;)

January 21, 2013 at 08:48 PM · Terry, thanks again, now I found time to listen to it carefully, many thanks for playing for us. If I may give some comments. I would suggest you do the trills longer, now they often break off too abruptly. The notes with a trill do not need to be staccato, you can use your bow on those. The left hand will then automatically follow the right hand and you will trill longer as well. On the other hand I loved what you do when there are two grace notes after the trill, like in measures 34 to 37, you do that absolutely lovely. Also very beautifully executed was measure 10. Finally something I noticed is that in the beginning of the Moderato you nicely "bite" the notes, but that bite disappears slowly as you progress through the piece. At the end when the theme from the beginning comes back you also start biting back.

Still hope I will find some time in the weeks to come to contribute my take on this...

January 21, 2013 at 08:49 PM · Bart, the shifts only stuck out because the rest was so good!

Terry, good job on yours as well. The pulse in the cantabile is getting lost in ornamentation, and it could be a little faster but that's really my only suggestion. Beautiful tone.

I'm amazed with what you guys have done in such a short time!

I'm still struggling with some of the fingerings and have decided to drop some of Galamian's suggested fingerings. (Although from what I've read about him, none of those fingerings are 'suggestions'). It's just not coming together like I want it too whenever I use his, not my own fingerings.

Tonight, when I practice, I'm going to work on bringing out some of the hidden melodies and see how that sounds. In measures 1-4 of the moderato, he repeats G-other notes - E then does the same pattern with A--F. He does this throughout, somewhere in the middle, he starts scale patterns. G, notes, A, notes, B, notes. I think it would sound cool if I could bring those notes out from the rest. We will see how that goes...

January 21, 2013 at 08:52 PM · Question relating to Jean's post- my edition stops with the dots under the notes. Does everyone else's? That could be why Terry stops biting the notes. After measure 7, My ed. has no more accentuation markings.

January 21, 2013 at 09:39 PM · Eugenia, in my edition the dots stop, but segue is written, probably meaning that the martelé bowing should be continued.

January 22, 2013 at 01:56 AM · Hmmm...I think segue means keep going- don't pause in between one section and the next. If they meant same style, it would have said simile. However, it would be pretty bizarre to randomly stop playing everything pointed a few measures in. Especially in an etude. Then again, a whole etude of biting notes would be grating. Maybe relax it a little?

January 22, 2013 at 03:16 AM · I think attaca means to keep going from one section to another. A little variety in the attack on the stroke might be a good touch though. I think I should certainly sustain a certain amount of martele (or staccato) in the strokes throughout the moderato.

Thanks everyone for your comments. I tried the one about playing a legato bow for the note with the trill and it works great, thanks Jean!

Thanks for your comments about tone. I've worked quite a bit with Simon Fischer's Secrets of Tone Production DVD. But mostly I've adopted Drew Lecher's idea of the crescent bow (bowing in an arc using the scroll of the violin as the center) and just tried to listen carefully.

I'll listen more carefully to the cantabile and see how much my beat is straying. It seemed okay to me at the time - always easy to say, until you have a recording to listen to!


January 22, 2013 at 03:31 AM · Terry, not as bad as mine. But I'm in the same boat as you are. I don't hear it while I play, but in the recording, I am holding notes at twice their value or slowing down a lot or adding a beat to fit in the grace notes or trills. It's driving me insane. It doesn't look hard, but darn it, it is!

I have wanted to get Simon Fischer's dvd for a long time. maybe now's the time? Your tone is great.

January 22, 2013 at 04:22 AM · Eugenia,

It's also really important to figure out what strings sound good with your violin and really dial in the setup of it. Make sure you find a violin that has an understanding of afterlength, strings, use of different tailpieces and tailgut. All of these things are relatively inexpensive and not trivial to the sound!

It seems to me that a little flexibility in the beat is not a problem in the cantabile. But I'll get to that later on when I have a moment...


January 22, 2013 at 04:45 AM · Eugenia, for segue my copy of Grove's has "an indication that the next section or movement must follow without a break or that an established pattern must continue." It's nice to be both right. In this case I believe the second part of the definition applies.

January 22, 2013 at 04:56 AM · Thanks Bart!

January 23, 2013 at 01:39 PM · First of all, congratulations to Bart and Terry. You both have achieved a high level of performance with fine (even though not perfect) intonation and tone, and you have achieved the main taison d'etre of the etude which is the combination of trills and martele in the allegro and the legato and bow control in the cantabile with steady rhythm and correct counting. Of course there are always small details such as the aforemention shift, to fix up, but my main focus would be elsewhere.

I would want to approach this as a piece for performance like a Chopin Etude or a Paganini Caprice. In other words, I would want to deliver it musically with more style and conviction, with elegance, charm, variety, etc, etc. I would play it as if it were a slow movement from Mozart or Beethoven or Spohr or DeBeriot. I would want to make more nuances, give more shape to the phrases. In the cantabile I would want some more rhythmic freedom in the fast notes, within the framework of a steady pulse. I would want to incorporate some portato bowing. I would feel not the slightest hesitation in dividing some of the long bows. In measure 3, for example I would take two bows. I would feel artistically compelled to do so, in order to give this measure the verve and expression it needs. In the famous shift up on the G string, I would start the phrase up bow so that I could arrive at the high C on an up bow, and I would use 3rd finger for security in the shift as well as my best vibrato. In the Moderato section, again I would want to give the phrases more shape and give the whole thing more variety with much more nuances and variety of dynamics.

Imagine this piece played in concert by Heifetz or Kreisler. That would be my ideal. It is music first and foremost.

Having said all this, let me congratulate you both, Bart and Terry, once more, on a high level of playing and on a formidable accomplishment with this etude in a short period of time.

January 23, 2013 at 05:07 PM · Thanks Roy, I'll give it a try!

January 23, 2013 at 07:42 PM · Roy, agreed again, with the possible exception of changing the long bowings. That would make the Cantabile easier to play convincingly, but it would miss Rode's pedagogical point. Art or sport, that is the question. If in the end the original bowing will not sound better than it does now, I'll probably change it. But I could not agree more with your main point: charm and the joy of music should be the point of playing this Caprice.

Meanwhile I found a passage in a book ("Intonation auf der Violine" by K. Mostras) that could have been written for this etude. In translation:

"Very significantly, the feeling of intonational connection of the tones among themselves can be disturbed by breakpoints - through short breaks, but also by martelé strokes, by slow spiccato separating the tones by brief interruptions. The breakpoints disrupt the continuous motion of the hand and their relation to the fingerboard, you can also expect open strings and natural harmonics. The importance of these factors is much greater than is commonly supposed. One must here consider that these short stops and interruptions influence musical memory, since the student easily forgets the order of the notes, even with a short sound of the open string.

In such cases, the fingers feel the brief interruption of their activities and their mutual connection. To restore this connection, it is recommended temporarily to refrain from executing short bowings and play the appropriate musical section legato. In several cases a combination of the individual tones is possible in double-stops (...)."

Elsewhere, Mostras states that in large jumps it is psychologically better to imagine "grabbing" (German: greifen) a distant note than "hitting" (treffen) it. Grabbing inspires more confidence than hitting, with its connotation of hit-or-miss.

IMO, the book is brilliant. If you read Russian, German, or Rumanian it is worthwile trying to get hold of a copy. I'm not aware of any other languages it has been translated to.

January 23, 2013 at 07:51 PM · "Art or sport"

Well put, Bart. I'd probably mess around with both bowings and be ready to choose according to circumstances.

January 23, 2013 at 10:26 PM · I'm conflicted about breaking up the bows. I don't think they are THAT long, and it shouldn't be an issue. It's just a matter of controlling bow speed at the frog. That's a skill a violinist should develop if they don't have it. And I think one bow sounds better. If it's go time, and it still sounds bad, then split the bows. But let's not give up before we start!

January 25, 2013 at 11:02 PM · OK, here it is again. No naked screaming kids, so no excuses this time. Or maybe it sounded better with them? ;) Any comments welcome.

Rode Caprice #1 take 2

January 26, 2013 at 01:36 AM · Okay, here are my comments. Keep in mind it's really good. I'm nit picking here. Reaching. You know what you're doing right...

In the first measure, the bow change/shift between the first and second notes was not in sync. But it was on the first take, so maybe just a fluke. In the recording by shumsky, he has a nice round arc to the first note, which I liked and have stolen- you don't have to do it, of course- but it's an option.

Pulse was much better. (I think, but my rhythmic sense is really poor.) The ends of your notes are really nice. People always pay attention to the beginning, but never the end.

In the shift to the harmonic e, in the 3rd (i think?) measure, you could consider a more audible shift. I put my fourth finger on the B then slid up to the harmonic and I felt like it sounded better. (not overly slow, mind you) It's a big shift, so might as well go for it. But that's me.

A few intonation problems in the runs. you can hear those. But they weren't there in the first take.

In that section starting with the f where it goes into the runs, the shifts are pretty slurpy. I was using the same fingering as you were, but changed it to FGAB 1-2-3-4- shift to C (1). I took out the third position shift altogether and went straight from 1 to 5. It was easier to hide one big shift with a slight bow speed reduction than it was to hide both smaller shifts. But that was me. I also didn't hear the dynamic change <> of the F#, D, B on that run section. Those swells are your friends. They'll help hide the shifts.

I still don't hear as much dynamic variation, but that could be lost in the recording process. When you look at the recording, it shows a little histogram of where you are dynamically. Make that more hilly?

I'm still in the working phase of the moderato section, and I haven't really broken it apart yet, so I don't feel like i'm qualified to comment on that other than to say, sounds good. A few intonation problems. Not many. And you totally wimped out on that second chord (GEbBbSomeEstringnoteG?) It sounded timid, which stuck out to me because the rest of your playing is not.

Again, impressed with your playing and your progress!! If I can figure out how to use that sound cloud thingy, I'm looking forward to hearing your comments. It's going to be helpful to have a good ear on me.

January 27, 2013 at 12:07 AM · Terry, Sorry I just got your email- Feel free to post whenever you want. I'm not the queen of this practice group... :)

Jean, Thanks for the offer- I've decided to bastardize the fingerings where ever I see fit.

Bart and Jean, how's it going? I am still working on/stalled out on the moderato part. I've had people in and out of the house all week, and haven't been able to practice much. I also didn't realize that section was so repetitive. I love the cantabile, but the rest is hard to motivate myself to practice.

January 27, 2013 at 01:34 AM · Eugenia, Since I didn't hear from you I just went ahead and posted my second take. Thanks for your comments.

Not sure I like the second take as much as the first. I'll listen next time before posting a third.

I am using a zoom H4 and I changed the settings for the second take. I will probably change them back.

January 27, 2013 at 07:13 AM · Terry, you did it again!

I'm impressed by your changes of position and bow changes in the Cantabile. The glissando up to C in bar 14 is very convincing. The trills get better and better.

I could not make sense of the rhythm in the beginning of the Cantabile.

Keep up the good work!

Eugenia, I'm in the same boat as you are: too much life getting in the way of my practicing. I'm not complaining. Apart from work (train journeys are ideal for mental practice) there is more music to prepare: a Brahms sonata, string quartets (yay!) and Schumann romances. Amid this musical candy store I'm getting a little bored with Rode.

I know, Agassiz and the fish, and so on. I'll go count the scales.

And I really want to hear you play!


edit: (I don't want to use up too many posts)

This week's practicing got me to the gloomy town of Reverse Effect, in the country of DiminishedReturnia. Get me out of here!

I practised for tempo, mostly, and it got much sloppier. So, nothing to show, and I'll go more slowly next week. And, to keep it fresh, I'm going to limit the time I spend on this Caprice.

January 27, 2013 at 11:22 AM · Eugenia, I hope to find some time in a few weeks from now to record my take on the Rode. But I must say I haven't worked on it at all yet, as I had to give priority to my orchestra pieces. Do you play in any kind of ensemble? If not you should do it, it really gives you a purpose in practicing. And amateur symphonic ensembles always welcome additional violinists (you can have too many flutists, say, but you never have too many violins). Moreover, you get practice buddies in real life! Sorry for the unsolicited advice.

January 27, 2013 at 10:15 PM · I guess I should check in also.

I have looked at a few times and have liked the piece. I am a long way from posting anything though.

I had a good meeting with Terry. We found a couple of interesting things. The fingerings in the 1895 Schirmer edition are different from the fingerings in the 1945 Schirmer edition lol.

Maybe that's how they got a new copyright on their edition.

We discussed the tempo for the Moderato section and Terry pointed out some wrong notes I had.

I need to look this over more carefully - there are a lot of easy mistakes to make, and I need time to get more comfortable with the notes.

I am enjoying working on it though. It has been and will be really good for my playing.

January 27, 2013 at 11:44 PM · Sorry Bart, mea culpa!

January 28, 2013 at 01:33 AM · Albert, what tempo did you decide on? I'm still really slow. I can speed it up, but not with the trills. It turns into a big sloppy mess.

Eric, I know you wanted something more ambitious, but are you working on the Rode at all? It's more challenging than I thought it was- it's easy to play, hard to play well.

January 28, 2013 at 05:04 AM · I have not been doing a lot of violin the last couple of weeks for various reasons. I did some violin yesterday but gravitated towards Bach instead.

I tried only the first part (of the Rode) a couple of times. You are probably right it is harder than it appears to play well overall and have to admit I find it a bit tedious or longwinded (even to listen to). Not sure why. Maybe 'cause it's really an étude.

It's not that I was keen on something more challenging per se, just that I had started looking at the Pag...as hard (too hard!) as it is but I'll give this one a bit more of a go and see if I change my mind. I'm sure it would be good for me anyway.

January 28, 2013 at 10:54 PM · Finally found an hour for free practicing. Spent half an hour on scale work: I never skip that, except in emergencies! So half an hour left for the Rode #1. For the Cantabile a speed of 54 beats per minute (bpm) seemed natural to me, this is a bit faster than indicated on my edition (my edition says 42 bpm). For the Moderato I feel like going around 69 bpm, which is, of course, much too slow. (Shumsky goes at around 90 bpm, my edition, like most editions, indicates 120 bpm which is crazy.)

For me the challenge of this etude are the clean execution of the trills in the Moderato section. To make sure I fully execute each trill I slow down on them if necessary, hoping of course that in the long run this will no longer be necessary. I noticed there are actually three different kinds of trill in this exercise and they should each be given proper treatment: the first kind of trill is the kind from the beginning of the Moderato, starting with the higher note. The second kind of trill is the standard trill starting with the lower note, they pop up twice in measures 31 and 32, but are mainly coming in from measure 49 until the end. The third kind of trill are the ones that are followed by a two-note decoration, which start coming up in measure 33 pretty consistently until measure 43.

I decided to go for short trills, meaning that I divide trills of the first two kinds in four parts, and trills of the third kind in five parts. So, the first trill of measure 16, which is of the first kind, I will play DCDC (four parts); the second trill of measure 31, which is of the second kind, I will play CDCD (also four parts); and the first trill of measure 33, which is of the third kind, I will play ABAGA (five parts). Shumsky does the same, I noticed when I relistened to him afterwards.

Then I found myself almost naturally binding trills of the third kind with the triplet note following that trill. It is not written in my edition but I think it is musically a logical thing to do. Thus in measure 33 I will play the B from the second triplet in the same bow as the trill ending the first triplet. Also here Shumsky does that too, I think he even binds the second note as well.

The main technical challenge for me in this piece is playing trills of the first kind immediately after a position change, and also after a string change with the same finger, for example measure 21, the G and the D are both second finger. I have less difficulties with trills of the second kind right after position changes, for example as in measure 49 (although that remains a tricky measure for me, not so much for the trills as for getting a correct intonation of the F with second finger on the A-string, coming from G with first finger on the E-string).

That sums up my experiences so far. There, now I actually spent more time writing this up than practicing with the violin! Eugenia your thread is bad for time management ;-)

January 28, 2013 at 11:53 PM · Thanks for that post! I'll be reading this more closely tomorrow before I start working on the trills. (hopefully)

February 4, 2013 at 02:29 AM · Hi Eugenia,

Sorry to take so long to get back to you.

We discussed the possible tempos for the moderato part and I was of the opinion that 120 was fast but doable (not necessarily by me lol). Musically, Terry thought that something slower made more sense, and that is probably correct also. We listened to the Schumsky recording and thought it was around 108 for the tempo and his interpretation of the piece is excellent for sure. I am not sure what tempo I will eventually take, but somewhere north of 96 is where I would feel that I am getting what I should out of the piece. I do think that the moderato section should be played on the upper end of what I can do speed wise, but I am not sure where that will be.

I think 120 is probably doable, but getting an actual trill in instead of just a turn is problematic, and being facile enough with the notes at 120 so that it's recognizable is also something that could be an issue. It's gonna take some time either way but I think I will be a better player for giving it a try.

I am going to spend some time with this piece and see what I can work it up to.

For me that is a fairly lengthy process because I will basically have to get to the point where I have it memorized well enough that there is no thinking about what comes next. I am also going to have to get together with someone and get another note and rhythm check. I had wrong notes and rhythms because I did not pay close enough attention to the details of what was written. Yes, it's all there, but sometimes the obvious escapes me when I am reading music.

I have a lot of work to do on it :)

At the same time, I am really enjoying the time I spend on it. The more I work on the piece, the more I get out of it. There are lots of rhythmical issues which need to be worked out, lots of tricky accidentals, and lots of slightly unusual positions. In short, this is a great piece for rhythmical control, clear modulation of intonation, and control of fingerings and positions that are often avoided in other situations.

If I get it to the point where it's worth hearing, I will record it for you guys, but for me that is a weeks/months kind of deal on this with my limited practice time. At the same time, I am planning on making this a priority in my practice because it gets at so many helpful areas in my playing.

I am hopeful that it will get there eventually, but it should be a fun journey.

February 5, 2013 at 08:38 PM · Hey folks, what's hapnin'? Please don't let this great collaboration run out of steam!!

February 5, 2013 at 11:45 PM · OK, here's my last take. That's take 3. C'mon everyone, show us what you got!!!

Thank you Roy for your great comments over skype! Hope I did at least some of what you said. Any and all comments welcome.

Rode Caprice #1 Take 3

February 6, 2013 at 01:55 PM · Hi Terry, I'm hearing more style and phrase shaping in the moderato section. Bravo. I think that if you continue using the practice strategies we worked on, your artistic delivery will continue to become stronger and more varied.

February 6, 2013 at 04:34 PM · Thanks Roy. The practice comments Roy mentioned included playing with metronome, playing the moderato without trills and non detache, playing without trills. In the process it can help isolate the important musical elements. It works! I probably have more work to do on this piece but I intend to move on to other things. Maybe I will come back to this in the near future. Other comments welcome! Terry

February 8, 2013 at 12:26 AM · Glad to hear it's going well Terry. I have had to put the violin down for a while- we were out of town, then since we've been back, I have been immersed in home repairs. Sigh...

February 9, 2013 at 01:12 PM · Thanks for your suggestions and for organizing the buddy system. :) Home repairs can certainly come in many unexpected forms. Hope you are getting to the bottom of them. I am open to another musical project if anyone would like to suggest one.

February 16, 2013 at 08:24 PM ·

February 17, 2013 at 12:26 PM · Encouraging to hear that even Oscar has a few problems with that first Rode Caprice!

February 25, 2013 at 09:46 PM · Hey, buddy Eugenia, how are you today?

March 13, 2013 at 03:30 PM · Hi everyone! How did the Rode turn out?

I'm sorry I abandoned you guys. Helpful household hint: If you go out of town, and you live in an old house, and think it's a good idea to turn the heat way down to conserve energy, don't. If the temperature changes rapidly, then all the plaster on your exterior facing walls will fall off. Sigh...

Anyway, I had to set the violin aside for a while. I don't know if I want to finish the Caprice or not. I enjoyed playing the beginning, but the end was repetitive and dull. Is anyone up for another project?

March 13, 2013 at 04:24 PM · Hi Eugenia,

I am still working on it. It is memorized now. The intonation is getting better (SLOWLY LOL). It's going pretty well at this point. I am not really able to get it clean at the speed I want yet so I am still working on it. It's kinda become part of my practice routine. I work on it every day that I get to play so it's coming along. I played it for Terry a week or two ago and he had some very helpful suggestions.

Now to learn how to do what he was talking about as a habit. That is gonna take even more time. I don't know if you have this issue in your playing, but I have this lag between knowing and doing. There are violinists out there that know and do (like people that play in major symphony orchestras). It's a really useful skill when preparing complex programs on limited rehearsal time.

I don't have that skill.

So back to practicing for me :)

If you want to do another project, I am up for that also. At this point, my Rode needs time and repetition more than anything so I can start something else at the same time.

March 13, 2013 at 04:33 PM · hi Eugenia, best wishes with the house! great that you got your own house. I do plan to work on the Rode this summer. I still think it is a great etude for combining precision, speed and suppleness of the fingers and for me a great challenge to get right.

March 13, 2013 at 08:48 PM · I've been working on Bach's sonata #1 1st Mvt instead. :-)

March 14, 2013 at 08:22 PM · Good to hear from you all. At the moment I'm very busy, professionally and with orchestra, quartet and pianist; but I cannot quite suppress a morbid wish to play Ysaÿe 3 -- morbid because it's so difficult.

March 14, 2013 at 10:02 PM · Would anyone be interested in the g minor presto? I've been looking at it- see the other thread- and I think I'm going to be dissecting that for a while. I played it years ago for college auditions, but haven't really thought about it since. We could do something wacky- like play it in pythagorean tuning if it's not enough of a challenge as it is?

I'm going to be looking at it regardless, so I can do something else with the group...Ysaye is awesome. Not sure if I'm up for 3 though. It looks really scary. What about the furies? Or maybe I just need to man up?

March 14, 2013 at 10:31 PM · I'm just starting the rode...

...I guess this is the horse I rode out on....

March 14, 2013 at 11:51 PM · No worries, Elise- I'm still picking at it. It's pretty monotonous to do the who thing, so I am just working on parts that I know would do me good. Keep us updated!

March 16, 2013 at 04:34 PM · How about Ysaye No. 2? Starting with the first movement, "Obsession"? Nowhere near as difficult as 3.

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