Need Phrasing/Practicing Help

June 24, 2004 at 06:42 PM · Hey i'm new to the forum and i've been aiming to study at a conservatory of music for college. Recently my new private teacher said i must practice at least 5 hours if want to stand a chance. My time now usually consists of scales for 2 hours. I'm wondering if this is normal? It just seems i never get satisfied from playing scales. After than it's 3 hours working on a sonata and a movement of a concerto. I'm just wondering if this is a good practice schedule. Also i've been curious about phrasing so i asked my conductor. He told me to get better phrasing i must understand how the phrase is constructed, where it goes, the main point, and where to let go. This is kinda confusing, i know let go and main point but that's about it. Phrasing for me currently is singing the piece or humming it over and over and over and than playing it. Will understanding my conductor's advice really improve my phrasing or will this singing thing be able to be good enough?

Replies (10)

June 24, 2004 at 07:15 PM · well, how much time you spend on technique is largely dependent on how good your technique is, if you feel your scales are very sub-par compared to the level of a conservatory student, two hours could be the right amount. The only thing i would worry about is that it is SO hard to concentrate fully on osmething like scales for two hours. If i were you i would simply run through some galamian scales every day for about 30 minutes with intense concentration on not having much left hand pressure and smooth bowing. Take a break and do it again. I would put more emphesis on etudes if I were you, i'm not sure what level you're at, but etudes teach you different things than scales do are are an integral part of learning technique. Finally if you're having trouble with scales i suggest maybe working on some sevcik shifting exercises.

June 24, 2004 at 11:46 PM · Greetings,

I dsoubt if you should be practicing scales taht much. One hout is enough for most people. The reason you are having trouble with scales is that they are an amalgamation of all aspects of violin playing in both left and right hand. In other words they are bloody diffiuclt to do perfectly.

I suggest you buy a copy of Basics by Simon Fischer and try to get a wide undertsanding of all aspects of technique. Then you can learen to focus on specifc aspects of a scales, perhaps even with seperate exercise for exmaplew. String croassing is a problem from both a left and right perspective and both need to be practiced as indepndent exercises before doing a scale.

Phrasing is essentially what how you qwould sing something. So there you go. Sing a passage and thenplay it the way you sang it.



June 25, 2004 at 12:31 AM · Well it's not always just scales for two hours, after about an hour and 15 minutes i do scales with lots of vibrato work.

June 25, 2004 at 03:14 AM · Greetings,

what do you mean by vibrato work?

Daily vibrato practice is a good iea and Basic suplies excellent exercises. But do you really want to do more than ten minute sor so on that?;)

You can improve your vibrato by working on pices with inexpressive bowing and the width/speed of the vibrato creating the urges you feel. then add the more expressive bowing (pressures and speeds) bowing and see what the result is..



June 25, 2004 at 08:03 AM · "Make rainbows" - Pablo Casals on phrasing.

With regards to phrasing, listen to a lot of recordings of violinists (and singers, pianists, cellists, anything as long as they're good) and try to listen to the melodic shapes in the music. Listen to how they play those shapes. This will probably work better with pieces you know well. Ask yourself, 'how do they give direction to this phrase?' It's got to do with dynamics mainly, but has some implications of very slight rubato, which is actually an agogic thing (difficult term to explain, but it means a very slight tempo fluctuation).

Mozart is probably a good composer to listen to; his music contains a lot of regular ('periodic') phrasing, so it's easier to hear how each phrase is being played.

Good luck,


June 25, 2004 at 09:57 AM · Greetings,

just rereading your message here. Am I right in thinking yiou are doing not s much on etudes. Those are your bread and butter along with scales. if you are not doing them then iut is ratehr like having a diet with no carbs or no protein or something.

The etudes are where you develop technique in a musical context- the end is technically oriented. In an ideal world you practic epieces to explore the music. You can nonly do that with the reources from a combination ofsclaes and etudes.

Practicing the rode caprices for example will gie you the keys to many mysteriosu doors of the classical repertoire.

Just oe example are all those beautiful slow introdcutions that hae to be so simply elegant and perfect. Once you can do them then slow movements of Haydn string quartets becoems far less embarassing in 'jam sessions'



June 25, 2004 at 05:39 PM · definetely, rode 5 is a woderful study in different bow phrasings

June 25, 2004 at 09:16 PM · Greetings,

the otehr thing you can do is play wth a high level painist a leats once a week.

Try to find a attractive one as it helps with motivation. Or so Owen tells me...



June 25, 2004 at 10:03 PM · You will learn the construction of phrases once you get to depth and beyond what you ever cared to know! For right now, I'd not worry so much about figuring out the phrase and details about it...just play what is natural to you, what makes musical sense. Treat it like a sentence. Where would you pause, where are the inflections and so forth. As for your schedule...sounds good. Five're no slacker!


June 26, 2004 at 02:33 AM · I would say definitely incorporate some Sevcik and Etudes into that 2 hours, if you're really bent on doing that much pure technique work. I find it just as beneficial to do an hour of really relaxed focused practice of all these things. About 10 minutes of shifting, 10 minutes of articulation, and then 20 minutes of scales and 20 of a Kreutzer etude. When I take breaks, I always do about 10 minutes of more scales when I start back up again. This way, it's not all dull and redundant practice. You can also incorporate scales and such into your practice of concertos/sonatas/whatever if you really want to, also.

5 hours is a pretty good time frame. Personally I usually do 4 or 5, and it seems to me that any more than that is sort of overkill and can really do harm if you let it. Granted, once in a while it's nice to just stay home and play for 9 hours or something. I wouldn't recommend it on a regular basis. heh.

Phrasing can spark some heated debates, but like Jennifer said, try to treat it like a sentence. Also, since violin is often likened to the human voice, try singing it. When you play, remember where you needed to breath, and where it was natural for you to emphasize certain notes, etc.

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