Increasing speed on double stop passage

Edited: February 12, 2019, 8:52 AM · https://www.dropbox.com/s/fl7f3jp7pqhqsry/P%26A%20passage.docx?dl=0

The link is to three measures of the double stop passage in Kreisler's P&A. I can play the entire double stop passage at about 50% speed (eighth note=100-110), but I can't increase the speed of the transition from the D (on the A)/F# (on the D) to the E (on the D)/D (on the G). In the link, I am referring to the last note at the end of the second measure and the first note in the third. I fingered it with 3 (on the A)/2 (on the D) to 1 (on the D)/4 (on the G), but I was frequently missing the G string with 4th finger playing any faster. Then I tried a "cheating" fingering with the second double stop in third position--3rd on the G/open D--but the C/E in first position immediately after the D/E starts sounding a bit smushed at higher speeds. Any suggestions? (I hope the link works.)

Replies (7)

February 12, 2019, 10:50 AM · Good. Now do 1000 reps.
Edited: February 12, 2019, 12:39 PM · If you aren't already, then make it easier on the right hand and just find a simple detache instead of spiccatto. In fact, you may find that too much focus on the right hand is tripping the left up, and you need to work out what each hand is doing separately.

One thing you can do is practice it with a little pause in between setting that chord. Start slow and play the measure ending on the 6th (F#/D), then STOP, make sure your hand is set, then play the next measure at that same tempo. You can work at one tempo, making that stop period shorter and shorter, but you can also bring the tempo that you are doing the passage up and keep the gap the same. This makes sure that your hand is set before the bow does anything, and hopefully it keeps you from tightening up in anticipation, because you need to be completely relaxed in your left hand. Eventually, you can completely eliminate this gap, but it's also okay to have a little bit of rubato which can help emphasize the changing chords. You may find that you are paradoxically having trouble with this because you are rushing it a bit out of too much anticipation.

You can also practice pivoting between just those two double stops without any tempo so that you understand what a relaxed hand in those positions feels like, and then you can add some timing into it.

Sometimes I get really caught up in the nitty gritty of the technique of some passage and it doesn't come off, and when I start to think about it again as music, it puts that technical work into context and it all fits, so sometimes it's really an issue of not losing the music and bigger picture.

February 12, 2019, 1:03 PM · Jocelyn have you observed some soloists on youtube what fingering they use?
Edited: February 12, 2019, 2:00 PM · My daughter solved that passage, mostly, by using various dotted rhythms. I'm not sure which fingering she used for the last grouping in the second measure, whether that was 1st position or 2nd. One thing you want to do is make sure your elbow is far enough to the right, underneath your violin, so that you can reach the D easily at the start of the 3rd bar. One idea is to make the entire passage all about nailing that D. If that means your elbow is pre-positioned for it, even to the extent that the previously easy groupings are a little harder, so be it.

Cotton's suggestion of 1000 reps may indeed be what you need, but you'd like those reps to be as mindful as possible, right? You don't solve a problem by banging away at it with a method that has proven itself ineffective. What Christian recommended is something I call "stop-gap", and it's surprisingly effective. I've found the pivoting idea to be useful, but only if you go slow and really think about where your fingers are going and what your hands are doing. It can be kind of mindless to just go back and forth a lot otherwise. That's what I find anyway.

Your cheat fingering is clever but DOA. Sorry.

Edited: February 13, 2019, 1:51 PM · Thanks Christian and Paul. I've been switching between playing the passage off the string and on. My teacher wants me to play the 1st and 4th note of every set of sixteenths on the string for emphasis, but I expect once it gets up to speed it'll be off the string completely. I think the idea to stop and place my fingers for the D/E is a good one. I'll keep trying with the "stop gap." If anything, I tend to move my elbow too far to the right, so I don't think that is the issue.

Also mindless repetitions are costly for me, in terms of the risk of tendinitis/arthritis/some sort of nerve problem. I never had these aches and pains as a teenager or younger, but now I really want to eliminate gratuitous reps as every one seems to put me closer to injury. A friend of mine likened my nerve issues as similar to a sober opioid addict who goes out for some fentanyl and overdoses because they can no longer handle the strength of the dose they used to take before they quit. Maybe I should have avoided any double stops for a year until I was stronger and more agile?

February 13, 2019, 12:22 PM · Jean--the soloists I've watched use the first fingering I described.
February 13, 2019, 1:16 PM · I looked at my music last night and have the F#/D in second position with fingers 1/2, before the D/E with 4/1. It feels completely natural to me, but there is more than one way to skin a cat.

I agree with what Paul wrote about nailing that 4th finger. When I took a look at this last night, it isn't a huge pivot, but we all have to find what elements trip us up and work them out. For me, it is the next measure or two after that I found knotty.

Mindless repetition is always bad, but if your hands are in pain, you may be pressing your fingers too much. It takes time to work out, but don't hurt yourself in the meantime.


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