Fun pieces for intermediate level remediation?

June 19, 2020, 8:51 AM · My 10-year-old needs to do some remediation this summer. I would particularly like her to work on more accurate intonation, bow position (she has recently developed an angle at the frog due to a growth spurt), and bow strokes (she has almost no spiccato). She's just generally a bit sloppy.

She is currently working on Mozart 3, and previous to that played Accolay, Haydn G major, and Bach a minor. She completed Suzuki through book 7, but she's not really focusing on Suzuki pieces any more. She's also played most of the pieces in Solos for Young Violinists volumes 1-3, and a few in volume 4.

Before someone just says to ask her teacher, the response when I ask about this stuff is always Suzuki review, which my daughter simply refuses to do any more.

Any ideas? I'm looking for something not that hard but interesting, as she is not the most motivated kid. She's played a ton of Baroque stuff, so anything not Baroque would be preferred.

Replies (16)

Edited: June 19, 2020, 11:09 AM · I hope I'm not speaking presumptively, but the first thought I have is, is it possibly time for a teacher change? If this is the teacher she's grown up with, done Suzuki with, etc, it may just be time for a fresh voice, and one who specializes more in that transitional higher intermediate-advanced level should have a good breadth of things to recommend. I personally would tend to lean on exercises for those types of things...something like Basics or Drew Lecher's technique book, where you can focus in on a skill and really feel it change and improve under your fingers... I'd better let somebody else speak more specifically though, especially to the rep to apply it to, as I do not myself teach to that level (mostly bc of having rather skimmed through it in my own training and hence not having either the rep knowledge or the technical chops to back it up :/) But I have a whole bank of stuff on my shelf queued up to work on bc I feel like there is a lot of really great rep at this level that I'd like to play just for its own sake! So I would expect that a teacher who "lives" in these levels would have some really good recommendations for you...
June 19, 2020, 12:30 PM · Past Mozart and no spiccato? Don't rush things, now.

The Canadian RCM repertoire books have a lot of short, fun pieces in them. I reckon books 5 through 7 would be appropriate.

June 19, 2020, 12:43 PM · Kreisler: La Gitana
Mozart-Kreisler: Rondo
Kabalevsky concerto, first movement
Edited: June 19, 2020, 12:50 PM · First thing I would do would be to learn some spiccato as well as other varied bow strokes, this will make things in the future much easier as the technique will already be there. Then maybe start her on some Wolfhart, the 60 studies, and some scales. There is also a book called Introducing the Positions which I personally hated, but improved my technique immensely. It will get her familiar with all the notes in 3rd and 5th position on all strings which will in turn make life down the road much easier. Then about pieces, maybe Viotti 22 or 23 and DeBeriot could be playable, but spiccato should be the number one priority.
June 19, 2020, 1:20 PM · @Cotton, hence the remediation. When you grow up doing mostly just Suzuki, there is not much need for spiccato. They learn kind of a brushy spiccato in a few pieces in Book 4, but never a true spiccato.

@Kathryn, yes, those considerations are underway. It's a bit complicated between shelter-in-place and trying to figure out what direction to go. It would be ideal to switch her to my son's teacher, but she only takes motivated and mostly older students and my daughter isn't there yet.

@Mary Ellen, Kabalevsky is next on her list after Mozart! She likes Kreisler, and we already have both of those, so we will take a look at them.

@Anand, she is actually very fluent in shifting, positions, etc. and can play all her 3-octave scales, arpeggios, and scales in (slightly broken) 3rds, 6ths, and octaves, reasonably well in tune. I've had her do some of the Wohlfhart (her teacher doesn't assign etudes); good idea to go back to that maybe just to work on intonation. We've been doing some of the easier Mazas and Melodious Double Stops.

Edited: June 19, 2020, 2:03 PM · I would be skeptical of a teacher that doesn't assign etudes. I think that intonation comes with time, but it also comes with attitude, so having music you really like can be a motivator to make sure you really play in tune, but it also has to be stressed in everything a student plays.

I'm finding that playing solo Bach is asking me to take a closer look at my intonation, partly because the intonation is part of holding up the architecture of the music, and because it's really transparent (Mozart asks similar things), but I wouldn't necessarily rush into solo Bach for that reason (same for Mozart).

Are there certain kinds of pieces or moods that your daughter really resonates with? Maybe big sweeping romantic stuff would motivate her, and in that context, she will be particularly receptive to the idea that being really picky about intonation is an important part of making these pieces work, while at the same time, these pieces probably won't have the same demands on intonation that Mozart does.

I think that etudes can be a key area to work on intonation among other things, but it helps if the student is convinced that the etudes are beautiful music that deserve polishing.

I'm not sure your daughter is at a level of repertoire where spiccato is critical, but it is a good idea to introduce it and develop it over a period of time, so that it's there when the repertoire will call for it.

June 19, 2020, 3:44 PM · I would agree with the Mozart-Kreisler Rondo, which is fun, not too difficult, and requires precision. In general, anything with spiccato is going to require precise coordination of left and right hands. The Novacek Moto Perpetuo might be doable, too, along with the Copland Hoedown (the arrangement from "Rodeo").

I am not of the opinion that Suzuki review is helpful in situations like this, because it is difficult to unlearn bad habits. It is far more frustrating to review a piece that one has learned with sloppy habits, than it is to start something new.

June 19, 2020, 7:10 PM · A lot of good ideas here. I would also consider Sevcik Op. 3 -40 bowing variations-(Probably the most musical thing he wrote-some variations are actually quite charming).
For pieces, maybe the Monti Czardas and Massenet Meditation from Thais. The Czardas is very popular and requires some sautille/spiccato, plus hand frame has to be solid for the harmonics to speak. Both are in the Solos for Young Violinists Book 5.
June 19, 2020, 9:40 PM · Thank you, Christian, Lydia, and Ingrid! Some great ideas there. I think she would love the Copland and I know Czardas is on her list of things she wants to play.

Christian, you hit the nail on the head -- she has to like a piece in order to be motivated.

I had her try a bit of the Mozart/Kreisler Rondo and she did surprisingly well with the bowstroke. She says she feels a bit dis-coordinate (LH vs. RH) but she was doing it pretty well. She was very pleased with herself.

June 19, 2020, 10:11 PM · That’s great!
June 20, 2020, 12:11 PM · That Haffner Rondo is a great one to polish LH/RH coordination! Super good choice. I think to hear that piece played very cleanly is more impressive than the first movement of Mozart 3 (not including cadenzas).

Another good piece is Tartini's "Didone Abbandonata" Sonata. As a baroque sonata it's not quite so dependent on the accompaniment. It also has some good coordination opportunities, string crossings, and so on. And if sonatas are okay, then I would say Mozart K304 and even Beethoven No. 5 ("Spring") should be within the reach of someone who has "done" Mozart 3.

June 20, 2020, 2:13 PM · From a student’s perspective, what about lyrical pieces? I remember after years after years of technical playing (Praeludium and Allegro, Haydn/Accolay/Kabalevsky Concerti, Beethoven Sonata No. 5....) it was refreshing to play something that mostly required me to think about musicality more than techniques. I started with Wieniawski 2nd Movement, and then my teacher started me on (well we did Lalo but after that) Bruch 2nd movement.
June 20, 2020, 6:35 PM · Thank you Paul and Cassio! She's never done any Tartini, so that's something to look into. I think she needs a little bit more maturity to do sonatas justice. And we will definitely be doing some lyrical stuff this summer -- we have a good list for that -- Gluck, Meditation, etc. She needs to work on musicality and being more consistent with her vibrato in those pieces.
June 21, 2020, 8:03 AM · Fun pieces? I think it is hard to get more fun with a piece than with the Dvorak sonatina. And it was written for children just a little older than your daughter. AND--it is a masterpiece.
June 21, 2020, 8:09 AM · Maximum distance from Suzuki might be some Bartok?
June 21, 2020, 8:22 AM · This might be too low level for your daughter: My teacher assigned De Beriot's Air Varie No. 14 to use as an exercise. It has a bit of everything and each variation is really short so you can loop on the ones that are giving trouble.

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