What I should do for my new quartet group?

January 9, 2015 at 04:43 PM · What I should do for my new quartet group?

Replies (23)

January 9, 2015 at 05:17 PM · Take them out for pizza.

January 9, 2015 at 07:01 PM · Get Playful Pizzicato up to performance standard first, of course.

January 10, 2015 at 01:34 PM · And some Piazzola...

January 10, 2015 at 01:39 PM · But it only takes two to tango. What'll OP do with the other two?

January 10, 2015 at 02:01 PM · Thanks my dear friends for your suggestions.

I really need some instructions for my group about what we should practice, what we should play and what we need to improve the group.

We are playing single before for all.

January 10, 2015 at 02:20 PM · It's too broad a question to answer adequately in a quick post.

Start with some really easy material and see how the four of you play and interact together (for example, find some basic wedding music arrangements). Once you know (and work out any resulting bugs)- then you can move on to other works.

January 10, 2015 at 03:13 PM · We're getting serious now, so I'll join in again.

My father started me on Mozart KV 157, but the other players were experienced and adult - It wasn't that long afterwards that he got me playing with other kids, and teenagers. There are YouTube recordings you could play with individually before you came together to play.

What you do, once you have a little experience of playing together, will depend partly on how good your sight-reading and timing turn out to be.

KV 458, "The Hunt" became my favourite around that time of my life, but best to play something else as a startup.

January 10, 2015 at 03:39 PM · Not really possible to answer a question like this without knowing your playing level(s), your preferences, and goals for your group. The quartet literature is too big.

January 10, 2015 at 07:22 PM · I agree with N.A. Mohr;

one of common mistakes is to play more demanding repertoire before the quartet is established as a group.

There are quite a few Haydn quartets and also early Mozart quartets which profile more than enough material for music making and working on group cohesion.

Not knowing your technical level, the best way to choose is to pick one you really like and see if you can sight-read at least 90% of it. One important pre-requisite is that all 4 members are close to each other on technical and musical level. Even if one member is lagging behind, this should not be a problem, as long as there is commitment to practice and willingness to work together.

Once you digest enough of the above quartets, move on slowly to early Beethoven.

For time being, leave late Beethoven and 20th century composers out of scope.

There is enough quartets for a lifetime - times 4!

January 11, 2015 at 07:40 AM · Apologies for my facetiousness earlier. I'm trying to remember how my (amateur) quartet started out. We began with the Mozart Salzburg Symphonies K136-138. Not too demanding technically but enough to highlight all sorts of issues with balance, blend and disparate playing styles, which had to be dealt with before we tackled anything more demanding. Of the early Mozart quartets K156 in G is generally reckoned to be one of the best and is very accessible. For more substantial fare the 'Hunt' is a good suggestion. One of my quartets also studied the Schubert A minor quartet D804 which is very playable.

Haydn - definitely. Hans Keller, in his indispensable book, suggests Op42 as a good starting point - I'm ashamed to admit that I don't actually know it. We started with Op33 no 2 (The Joke). His book on the Haydn quartets gives many suggestions not just for quartets to start with, but some to avoid in the early days - some which challenge even top professional quartets.

Then there's the mighty Beethoven. Much of Op18 is relatively straightforward, and although the gulf between these and Op59 is enormous we managed to at least play through everything up to Op95. We also tackled the Dvorak 'American', Borodin Nocturne, some Mendelssohn etc. The choice is virtually unlimited.

Even if the individual playing standard is quite advanced there might be some merit in starting with something straightforward. It would allow you to concentrate on ensemble, balance etc without having to worry too much about technical issues.

January 11, 2015 at 09:07 AM · Greetings,

Bach`s Art of Fugue is a good way to start training a quartet. With lot@s and lot@s and lot@s of Haydn. Dvoraks American is also nice for some variety. Also bring along other combinations for strings such as trios and duets. They can be a welcome break while honing the quartets or if somebody suddenly can`t make the rehearsal.



January 11, 2015 at 10:16 AM · Greetings,

again. I`ve always found the biggest hurdle for quartets is the scutwork or floor cleaning aspect. that is intonation. I am terribly anal so I have absolutely no problem sitting down for hours and tuning a line of chamber music form the cello up, chord by chord, or a unison passage absolutely note perfect. very slow and painstaking work that many players don`t seem to enjoy for some reason. Anyway, after the daikon is removed from one`s botty and you play though the section and surrounding areas the improvement is absolutely miraculous.

You have to make decisions about is the tuning going to be vertical in accord with the bass line or horizontal for expressive more solo effect. This aspect of quartet decision making is extremely taxing .

You might even consider taking along Simon`s book `Scales`and working on the tuning system for three octave scale sin the key of the quartet you are going to play. cellist can`t complain since it was a system used by Casals . whether he actually invented it I don`t know.

One of the key issues in a quartet rehearsal which some people don`t like to admit to is that one person has to lead the rehearsal with a score a lot of the time. Highest level groups may not need to do this, but unless someone is sitting there picking things apart with a score so much time is wasted.

You can make it more democratic by for example, having a two hour rehearsal with half an hour of authority for each person. or change on a weekly basis or whatever.



January 11, 2015 at 02:02 PM · I would suggest getting out the metronome and working on counting and keeping the pulse even. There can be a tendency for some players to come in early and thereby keep speeding up the music.

You need to keep the timing even or chords can become muddied, especially as rhythms get trickier.

I realise this sounds basic, but it it one thing that our local orchestra's leader complains about over and over - that players (even otherwise really good players) seem to have little sense of pulse/counting.

January 11, 2015 at 03:36 PM · Buri, I enjoyed reading your post. You know, it would be interesting to have something akin to a Simon Fischer type book organized around the specific problems of chamber music, including the issues of leadership that you've alluded to. (Probably there are already books on that, and I'm just so ignorant of the violin literature that I don't know they exist.) Would you recommend, for example, that quartets actually practice scales? I've never seen that done, but it sounds like it could be valuable. The Flesch Scale System: Quartet Edition!

Another suggestion for pieces that are enjoyable are the flute quartets by Mozart and Devienne. The latter are more flute-centered as Devienne was a flautist as his main instrument.

January 11, 2015 at 05:17 PM · wow!

Firstable, thanks for every valuable suggestions from you friends.

I really sorry for my broad question. You know, the problem is that I don't know where to start with my question so I putted it in here ... anyway, next time I will make a particular question.

John Rokos, thank you so much.

Peter Williamson, it's ok, music is not always serirous. Your valuable suggestion is good for me.

Stephen Brivati, Liz Brown. Thanks for your answer about "How to play"

First thing I want to do is saving all instructions into a documment, so that I can think about it when we play together

We will do Mozart for the practice and now "Just do it", right?



January 11, 2015 at 05:38 PM · Duc, you might find The Art of Quartet Playing an interesting read. It is based on conversations with The Guarneri Quartet.

January 11, 2015 at 05:57 PM · And if you like that book then the one by arnold steinhardt is good too, called indivisible by four. Nice gift for your quartet members and not so expensive, paperback for 5 bucks maybe.

January 11, 2015 at 10:42 PM · I second that.

January 12, 2015 at 08:01 AM · hi friends,

I am on my way to get the book.


January 12, 2015 at 02:00 PM · Hi All - I've posted some guidelines for quartets and similar groups on my blog. See: Ten Tips for Collaborating Musicians. Hope you find it helpful. GK

January 12, 2015 at 02:42 PM · For really elementary stuff, hymn books - but you may have to write out the tenor line in alto clef first.

January 14, 2015 at 11:49 PM · The ACMP (American Chamber Music Players) organization has many great functions related to chamber music playing.

Most notable is the roster of members that helps travelers find people to play with everywhere in North America.

Another useful feature is the provision of coaches to help chamber music groups improve. If any member of a quartet belongs to the ACMP, the ACMP will pay half of the coach's fee for a coaching session. If all 4 of the quartet's members belong to ACMP, you can get 4 coaching sessions. I was in a quartet a few years ago that decided to put on a concert. One member of the quartet was also a member of the ACMP. Our coached session was so valuable that the rest of us joined the ACMP and got 3 more sessions - each at a cost to us of $40. A year's membership in the ACMP cost us each $25.

Having a coach avoids the problem of one member of the group appearing to be an SOB when trying to tell the others what to do. All members are more likely to pay attention to a hired professional.

While I think such coaching is a great idea, I also think it is worth trying it on your own for a while to find what some of your problems are going to be - and if you even have a chance of making it as an ensemble.


January 24, 2015 at 05:25 PM · Two of the best quartet for beginning string quartets are two by Charles Hambourg, his Introduction to Chamber Music, String Quartet No. 1 in D Major, and String Quartet No. 2 in F Major, published by Lengnick & Co., Ltd., 14 Berners Street, London, W.1., 1949; and published in the U.S.A. by Mills Music, Inc., 1619 Broadway, New York, 19 N.Y.. It's out of print, and I don't think either publisher is still in business, but if you can find it, it's a treasure. Both are written in the style of Haydn/Mozart and playable almost entirely in first position. All the traditional Classical idioms are there, and the simplicity of the music allows the players to work on nuance and ensemble. They are great for sight-reading at a reception gig.

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