Practice Buddy II

March 16, 2013 at 09:43 PM · Hi! So we've finished the Rode (some of us, me, are still working on it.) and we're ready to move on. What to play next? Ysaye #3 (not my vote- I am not up for that) Ysaye #2 (I think 2, it's the one with Obsession. It's accessible. I've done Obsession, but it needs polish and some of the 3rd movement. They are both fairly accessible, to me anyway.) And Bach g minor 1.

If anyone still wants to post on the Rode, please do. The old post has been archived, so post here.

Replies (55)

March 17, 2013 at 02:58 PM · I'm OK with both Bach 1001/I and Ysa├┐e 2/any. But I don't know when I'll find the time to practice.

Obviously, from Rode experience, my challenge is to get it beyond first take quality.

Glad this thread is up again!

March 18, 2013 at 02:45 AM · Or a Fritz Kreissler piece?

March 18, 2013 at 07:16 AM · I love Kreisler! But many of his pieces are with piano. There is one solo piece I'm aware of (Introduction and something, and I'm not sure of Introduction either, so Something and Something else) and of course the cadenzas. There are lots of piano accompanied pieces.

Are we OK with an accompanied piece?

edit: Recitativo and Scherzo-Caprice

March 18, 2013 at 01:53 PM · Bart, I hadn't thought about that- hmmm...a lot his pieces rely on accompaniment. They sound okay un, but better with piano. I love playing Kreisler because you get a good technical workout, but the pieces are melodic too. I could go either way. Thoughts?

March 19, 2013 at 07:29 AM · Would it be an idea to have each of us play a piece of our own choice, and be available as listeners, givers of feedback, etc? Or is that against the spirit of this thread? I believe it's your call, Eugenia.

March 19, 2013 at 09:07 AM · I think thats a great idea Bart - then we can all work at our own level and get feedback on whats important for us.

Actually, I think it should be a permanent feature of

March 21, 2013 at 01:32 PM · Another idea -- we could do a 1st violin part of a string quartet. I'm thinking of Haydn, for example Op 76/1 or Op. 64/5. Preparing those for this Practice Buddy Group (PBG) would be a great incentive to practise them really well.

March 21, 2013 at 05:39 PM · Bart, an anything goes group sounds like a great idea. It's hard to get enough people who want to play the same song; and the point is just to have a goal and have someone available to listen and give feedback. Let's do it. Whatever you want.

Pick a piece, play through it a couple of times, post it in full (or part) in the next three days. I started working yesterday on all the doubles from Bach b minor, so I'll be posting the first double this afternoon or tomorrow morning, depending on how the day co-operates.

Ready, set, GO!

March 21, 2013 at 09:50 PM · For me it will be either a Schumann Romance (op. 94, originally written for oboe and piano) or the final movement of Haydn Op. 64/5. Ready, set, GO!

March 22, 2013 at 01:30 AM · Okay, I have a technical problem- whenever I tried to record directly onto soundcloud, p sounds ff and f sounds fuzzy. Then when I play on the g string, there's a weird dissonance that isn't there live. I'm pretty low tech- all I have is my mac. Are there any suggestions as to some kind of setting I can change, or some inexpensive microphone? Or some other program that I could upload into sound cloud?

March 22, 2013 at 01:33 AM · Sounds like the mic is getting overloaded. Maybe you can try moving farther away from the mic. If not, is there a gain or volume setting you can adjust.

March 24, 2013 at 02:33 PM · Here is take 0 of Haydn. I'm sure there is plenty to comment on; I have a few comments myself ;)

March 24, 2013 at 03:19 PM · Wow Bart!!! The only comment I have is that it sounds like there are a few shifts to practice a little bit more, but not much!

March 24, 2013 at 10:30 PM · Bart - I think I would advise slow practise on this piece to (1) improve the intonation and (2) concentrate on a better sound with much more eveness on string crossings etc.

Also a decision about the type of bow stroke, (when played up to speed) - is it on the string or off?

EDIT: the problem is that you are going to get lots of advice about how to play this piece and most of it will be conflicting.

March 24, 2013 at 11:41 PM · Mendy -- thank you! You are too kind. Especially the shifts from the fifth position down to first need work, or another fingering that avoids them, as there is hardly any time for such a large shift.

Peter -- thank you, and: Exactly! The two problems you mention are definitely there. It needs more work, and more time, for sure. As to on or off the string: the score marks staccato. I think that means off the string, but I intend to take the liberty to play on the string for emphasis, and in the forte passages.

edit: or did you mean on or off the string in the sections with quavers? I'm not sure what to do with them yet, and that's rather obvious in the recording. Time, and further experimentation, will tell.

March 25, 2013 at 07:25 AM · I don't know this Haydn movement but I would say that the semi-quavers need (to be eventually faster at approx. crotchet = 130-140) and to be off the string - spicatto. The quavers should be short and probably lifted - so off as well. It should have, by the sound of it, a dance like quality with lots of phrasing in the groups of semis and quavers - otherwise it will sound stodgy.

March 26, 2013 at 09:14 AM · Bart, I admire your clean bowing. How did you cultivate it? Do you have any bowing exercises to recommend?

On the other hand (but now speaking as a music critic, not as someone who can do it any better) the clean bowing sometimes renders your music a bit monotonous. For example in the Haydn, I followed with the score, there are a few sforzando's here and there, but I didn't hear them in your playing. But this is just to give you a comment since you asked for them.

March 26, 2013 at 03:28 PM · Jean, thank you, and I agree, again, with your critique: my performance did not convey much besides the fear of falling from the saddle, which, incidentally, did not happen. Now for the music.

It turned out that I played with a half broken shoulder rest, unknowingly. Now that I've got a new one, I'm sure things will improve ;) .

Provisional summary:

1. Intonation, always intonation (but I'll try not to get hung up about it)

2. It pays to be aware of which string I'm on

3. and can we please have some music with the notes?

All this is an exercise in letting go.


4. it's not yet fast enough. First get it right, then speed up.

April 3, 2013 at 10:05 AM · we're flagging a bit here :) But I have yet to share anything. Here's my current 'beau', Romance in C by Shostakovich (from The Gadfly):

elise's effort....

let her rip! [but please be gentle...]

April 3, 2013 at 01:16 PM · Can you give me a link to where you got the music for the Shostakovich?



April 3, 2013 at 02:38 PM · "let her rip! [but please be gentle..."

You have definitely improved. No joking. But dare I say more?

P.S. Don't practise too much as I don't want any competition ...

April 3, 2013 at 03:20 PM · thank you peter - much appreciated. and yes, do dare...

April 3, 2013 at 04:46 PM · I think in that case I would venture to say that you should develop a more legato and bolder sound. It is basically a legato piece. (Don't worry, I have this problem too).

Try and keep the bow on one place on the string - as if its stuck in a groove on the string, and can't get out. So it's in a groove somewhere roughly half way between the bridge and the fingerboard end. If you want a really big sound and feel like risking it, then the groove could be a bit nearer to the bridge.

Then you can get your colours and dynamics from variations in bow speed and pressure, and this need not be huge variations, a little goes a long way.

Hope this helps.

(See, I'm not nearly as bad as you thought I was ...)

April 3, 2013 at 05:01 PM · thats very useful and constructive. Do you think there should be more vibrato - most versions do but I'd rather understate this piece because the melody is so rich.

April 3, 2013 at 05:31 PM · I noticed you were developing some nice vibrato. But I would not get too worried about too much at this stage as you need to get the beautiful sound from the bow, the vibrato is the added perfume. It's possible you are starving the bow a little, maybe a bit more bow, but It's hard for me to give good advice without seeing what you do as well. Maybe a video would be good?

Concentration on tone production from the bow should be the main focus and tonal colours and variation in nuance from the bow will give good musical results. (Intonation can also be improved by having a clear sound and minute adjustments with the left hand can correct out of tune notes).

Sorry if this is sounding critical but I beat myself up over all these issues with my own playing - several times a day.

P S I heard a bit of Milstein playing the Spring Sonata of Beethoven today and I was noticing how little vibrato he used.

April 3, 2013 at 05:52 PM · The first time I played (up to age 13) I developed a rich vibrato - but I remember that I realized at the time that it had become such a habit I could not actually play a pure note in tune. This time round I learn as much as I can without it - this is doing wonders for intonation but I find I now forget to put vibrato in even where its needed. Still, rather that problem!

I will work on some bow nuances - I think thats a really good idea. I have more colours at hand but have not really learned how to use them - thus the toffee notes with light pressure, near the fingerboard vs the declarative extra strong mints near the bridge :)

April 3, 2013 at 07:25 PM · Elise,

Congratulations on having contributed a recording to this thread. It feels as if you're throwing yourself to the lions.

It's nearly there already, but if you are like me, getting from "nearly there" to "there" takes a lot of effort.

Now that I can give advice I notice how difficult that is. Let me instead say what I would like to hear in this piece: a fat, voluptuous sound and a continuous flow of the music. Both are right hand things, at least to a large extent. Where are those fluid bow changes when you want them -- I know the feeling.

C major is a deceptively difficult key to play in tune in, unless you are a Pythagorean. Those who are not have to be continually conscious of which string we want to resonate with, the E or the G.

Happy practicing,


April 3, 2013 at 09:46 PM · thanks Bart :)

My studio is rather damped acoustic wise (on purpse) - I think I may try recording in a more violin-friendly environment...

I though it was pretty much in tune but maybe my ear still isn't there...


April 4, 2013 at 12:18 AM · Bart and Elise, bravo for your recordings! It's fun to hear one another as we all sound unique and different despite playing the same instrument! As an amateur too, I prefer to underline the positive since I'm sure your teachers (as mine) already plenty point you out what we all have to improve, right?

You inspired me to dare to share one of my practice recordings... I'm usually quite shy to go public but you friendly guys on this thread convinced me for this one time :)

On that link, you can here my practicing of Leclair Sonata mvt 4. I am suppose to play the 1st and 4th mvt in a May student recital. My pianist advised me that it clearly lacks dynamics to make it more interesting and I am also concerned about intonation and a too bright sound. So I'm working on these right now!

April 4, 2013 at 01:23 AM · Well done Anne-Marie - its got so much vitality almost springs out of the loudspeakers. There are some minor intonation issues but I think they will fix themselves as you become more familiar and 'play it in' a bit. Indeed, I thought it got better as you tired a bit :)

I'm no expert but maybe you need to (opposite to me I think) use shorter bows to make it feel more easy going.

But I really enjoyed it - you've inspired me to have a look too...


April 4, 2013 at 03:35 AM · Elise, thank you for your feedback :)

Yes, I am a natural cheerful person (maybe too much!) In fact, I love to hear slow and soulful music but I can sometimes get bored to practice this myself. Perhaps this will come as I age... I want, however, to learn to modulate my playing a little more. Add pp dynamics, change colors and textures etc. Pianists are the best to point ou these as violin teachers tend to focus on technical issues as violinists.

As for playing more easy going, it's true and I suspect I am still learning to use my new heavier bow. As a feather weight right arm owner, I had issues with tome production and even(ness)for years. Last summer, I bought an heavier bow (quite heavy) that is still plenty flexible for jumping and little details as in Mozart. For the first time of my life, I had to learn to ease out a bit rather than forcing like heck to sustain some weight on the strings to make a "tone". That's fantastic! But I must not overdo it either :)

I also enjoyed your playing! I love to hear that type of Shostakovich... as I sadly associate him a little too much with battle (not always melodic) type music that I am not that fan of. The other day on youtube, I randomly fell on your video at the marriage, I admire you courage and love what you played there too. Your instrument sounds good, keep on the good work!!

Speaking of maybe "opposite" technical issues, if we could mix all that together, we could be a pretty decent player collectively... How many amateurs for a Perlman??? :)

April 4, 2013 at 09:12 AM · Elise - I could do you a short video on the points I made about bowing - but maybe you might think this over the top. I won't promise anyway as I have terrible trouble with doing videos and uploading them at the best of times!!

Anne-Marie - I think your recording machine is over-recording as there's some distortion - maybe further away from the mic?

April 5, 2013 at 05:36 AM · Elise, your mixing idea reminds me of Albert Einstein's response to Marilyn Monroe: "but what if the child had my body and your brains?"

April 5, 2013 at 07:15 AM · Anne-Marie, I thought you did an applaudable job, it sounded lively and possessed a degree of mastery. If I may, Here's some of my thoughts on how to make it better:

Most of it seem to be under your fingers, so good job learning the notes. Intonation will come as you continue to improve.

I think that using a metronome will help--the runs and staccato parts tend to be rushed. I feel that if you used a little bit more bow and play from the string (set the bow more) on those [double-stopped]staccato parts, it will get rid of some of rushing and the "nervous" tone that results as well as improve the sound. The trick is to set the bow and start the note without crushing it. Start slow and build up :)

If you're working on dynamics and colours, I would experiment with playing lighter and closer to the fingerboard (for some passages) to get contrasts.

Good job, and I wish you the best as you continue polishing this piece.

April 6, 2013 at 02:35 AM · John: thanks a lot for telling this... yes I need to lean to use my recording machine better!

Austin: thanks a lot and your comments are about the same as my teacher's (quite interesting, she's right then :) As for the double stop spicattos, to my ear, even in the soloists, I find that only Oistrakh and a very advanced russian student girl on youtube (do not know her name) really have these spicattos not scratch, powerful and beautiful. Kind of very frightening! But I'll try very hard even if it's very difficult and I have to stay realistical of course... Another problem there is that my fingers aren't able to strech quite ennough (narrow hands) for these and it makes me nervous... perhaps tensing the right hand in the spicattos by the same occasion. Thanks for making me more aware of my bow and for your tricks... Your comments are appreciated and I wish you the best of luck in your playing too!!


April 7, 2013 at 03:28 PM · So here is take 1 (the first take was numbered zero, common practice among computer geeks). After two practice sessions I felt I could nearly play it, and now, two weeks later, I still feel I can nearly play it. One should imagine me happy.

April 7, 2013 at 06:13 PM · Bart, congratulations! You play very well to my ear! I heard some dynamics, I think it is in tune (I don't know this peice but still) and you seem to have a nice bow control which is not easy at that speed (each note sounds nice and crisp, well articulated. Perhaps even better than in take 0 which was already not at all that bad). So bravo! As a listener, it was a joy to listen to this :)

I hope you are proud of your playing...


April 8, 2013 at 12:13 AM · Ok, I know this is late, but I finally put a recording of the Rode together.

It's on youtube, but it's still audio only.

Now I can catch up on what's next lol.

April 8, 2013 at 03:33 AM · Albert (again I'm no expert at all... and I do not know the peice which is beautiful by the way... Rhode study or concerto?) but to my ear, very good! I love your violin's sound and I find you have amazing trill control + sound very confident except one or two notes that are not even worth mentioning when we know how much notes there are in a score! Bravo for that nice music! :)


April 8, 2013 at 06:14 AM · Anne-Marie, thank you very much for your generous comments.

April 8, 2013 at 06:11 PM · Your welcome, IMHO when the plying is good, it's important to tell it... :)

April 18, 2013 at 01:00 AM · Bart - I just rememberd to come back and listen cause I thought of uploading a second shot at the gadfly.

Anyhow, the Lark really is excellent - rhythm, intonation all of it, I'm sure any quartet would be very pleased to have you at 1st!

I don't know this piece at all my only thought was I wasn't sure sometimes if you were intending on playing detache or off the string. Either way, I think you need to be clearer in your R hand note creation.

well done!!

April 18, 2013 at 01:19 AM · OK, here is the second shot at the Gadfly romance. I recorded it in the living room, not my damped study, this time so a bit more resonance I hope.

Also, used a different upload site since the last one (on soundcloud) the recording was taken over by FB because I made the mistake of copying it there using the button - and after that it was not possible to listen to it unless you opened a FB account!

elise gadfly take 2

April 21, 2013 at 03:52 PM · Anne-Marie, Elise,

Our playing reminds me of advice I was given by Daniel Pioro, at Dartington International Summer School of Music. It was this: "take a short fragment, two notes if necessary, and keep experimenting with it until you are completely satisfied in every respect you can think of." Violinistically, musically, technically, rhythmically, intonationwise, etc.

Going as small as two notes frightens me a little, but that is perhaps why the advice is so good: there is no place, and no need, to hide.

Guess what? I'm going to try it. Now.


April 21, 2013 at 05:33 PM · I can work on one or two notes to improve their intonation and clarity - and also how I want to make the note sound. But that is out of context to the music - when I play the same notes in the piece I'm not sure how much it carried forward ....

April 21, 2013 at 07:35 PM · Elise, I could keep concentrated on two notes for no more than five minutes. I cannot imagine that this kind of slow and detailed work is the only kind of work. But it could be very useful to pick out the trouble spots and work on them this way.

April 21, 2013 at 09:31 PM · I can concentrate on one note - but only by looking at it in context of its neighbours - working forward and backwards. Right now I have just such an issue - in the Bach P2 Allamedea - first line going from Bflat on the D to Csharp on the G - I always make the latter flat beacause, I guess, I am not familiar with this note combination. So it really helps to work at the Csharp from all angles...

April 21, 2013 at 09:48 PM · Bart, thank you very much for your good advice!

If I dare tell (even if I am no expert), I am more with Elise as for thinking it can work but not always. I remember going to masterclasses (as audience) and hearing the masters tell, work hard ennough so that you like each note even if you have to play a note 1000 times. True but dare I say I humbly think this is a bit of a lie up to some extent.

I tried this technique after seeing the masterclasses but as Elise said, always totally failed to put all the peices together well (and the flow and smooth transitions from one unit to the other are equally important since that is what keeps your finger going at the concert no matter what and makes the big picture of your interpretation.)

A few years after, I am more sold to very slow practice method(sometimes without vibrato or with the metronome) Of course, I take back a note I hate but I have found that slow practice is way more efficient for me. (but I'm just talking from my own little experience and sure know we are all different.)

Also, it's a time issue. Taking every note over and over of a three page score takes me forever. It's an ideal but I imagine those who play the whole Tchaikovsky and can't imagine they have the time to play every note or two notes over and over and finally fit in their time to learn it...

But I'm willing to try it for an evening or two to test it again...

Thanks for this information!


April 21, 2013 at 09:49 PM · Try slowly playing each interval (carefully, mindfully and "earfully") paying attention to everything.

I.E. note 1 and note 2, then note 2 and note 3, then note 3 and note 4 still get a sense of the piece/fragment but concentrate on each interval too. Doesn't have to be in rhythm.

April 22, 2013 at 08:36 PM · Anne-Marie wrote: " (...) those who play the whole Tchaikovsky and can't imagine they have the time to play every note or two notes over and over and finally fit in their time to learn it..."

As in Sevcik?

April 22, 2013 at 09:20 PM · Elise wrote:

I can concentrate on one note - but only by looking at it in context of its neighbours - working forward and backwards. Right now I have just such an issue - in the Bach P2 Allamedea - first line going from Bflat on the D to Csharp on the G - I always make the latter flat beacause, I guess, I am not familiar with this note combination. So it really helps to work at the Csharp from all angles...

I'm glad you brought this up, Elise, because it is an issue that comes back again and again.

You need to see these two notes as part of a larger group, and your hand has to work that way too. In this case it is a three finger group. You can practice Bb, A, C# fingering 3,2,1. Or else you can practice Bb, D, C#. Then you omit the second finger note, but the second finger is in place helping to guide the first finger. In fact, in this passage the note before the Bb is the A, so if you play the three notes as a group, you should have no trouble putting the first finger in the right place.

April 23, 2013 at 07:54 AM · hi Roy - but my mind doesn't play like that! sure I am aware of finger intervals but I actually play the sound of the note. This can be a big advantage when making large leaps - I think of the note and my finger plays it. However, it can be confounded when my mind starts to get involved in composition!! It feels the note should be flat and the only way to fix that is to train it for the correct note - which means playing the triplet over and over (and over and under and...) making sure I hit the correct C#.

I've found two things particularly helpful in learning a difficult passage, both for intonation and fingering - memorization, even if its just the three notes in the whole piece - and playing backwards. There are, of course, lots of ways to fool around with the note sequence - they are detailed in Fischer's 'Practise' - but for me the playing backwards straightens out the biggest difficulty of all, which is relearning something that is wrong.

Oops I'm going on rather!

April 23, 2013 at 06:09 PM · Hi Bart! Great job. Boy that's a lot of notes. Articulation is great, intonation is great. A couple of things I noticed:

When you have a descending passage, you are out of tune. Nearly every time. It's because you start on the E string (perfectly in tune), then when you move to the A string, your 3rd finger is off, then the second, and first finger follow. I noticed it because I do it too. ;)

Second, you've got the notes, but there's no shape to the line. It's one note after the other, not one note following from the other. Follow the line up and down, maybe hit the high and low notes with a little extra vibrato. This shouldn't be an exaggerated effect- you don't want to make anyone seasick. You could also play patterns that repeat with a different dynamic level. I don't know this piece at all, so you have to figure out what fits best in the context of the whole thing, but the line does need some direction.

Your left hand articulation is amazing! There are a few places where it's a little bloppity. (I made up that word for my little students. I think you know what it means though) You should mark those spots, then isolate why your fingers aren't doing what they're supposed to. I don't know- maybe your left hand moves over on those hard parts, maybe your thumb slips back, maybe you could figure out if advance fingering could help you. It could be the bow not moving fast enough. (Sometimes, when I'm concentrating on difficult parts, my thumb goes back, I don't know why but it will effect articulation.) Anyway, you've got to narrow down the cause before you can fix it.

Excellent work. Man that's a lot of notes.

April 24, 2013 at 09:14 PM · Eugenia, thanks for your comments!

-descending passages out of tune: hmm, hadn't noticed. Will pay attention.

-no shape: this could be the amateur's fault of doing something about phrasing and articulation, but not doing nearly enough of it.

-bloppity left hand spots: I guess I know where they are. It's when climbing into the E string and dropping out of it again.

My quartet is moving on to other pieces. Still this movement is a good piece to practice. I'll see how it goes, and if it improves I'll post it again.

Thank you again for taking the time to listen and to comment.


April 24, 2013 at 11:05 PM · I was really impressed with your performance. And your guts for sharing it!

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