According to my teacher, my tone is quite good, but my dynamics are pretty much non-existent. I suspect this is a normal issue at my stage. (Suzuki 4/starting on the last Seitz and also on the Concertino - Rieding Op. 21).
"I" can hear my dynamics, indeed they sound great to me but of course my ear is so close. The point is for others to be able to hear them - and right now that's over Zoom. I've recorded myself with Audacity and yeah - it's far less apparent than I think when I'm playing.
I do understand the various components that go into this - bow speed, weight, and sounding point. I've experimented with the difference between my JP Corona and Codabow Prodigy, but I always go back to my JP.
Curious to hear how others may have gotten past this, or have helped their students to address this. This can't be an unusual problem. As a member of my teacher's ensemble if we could actually meet in person I suspect that would go far in fixing this, but of course we're all playing in isolation right now.
I try that Jake, apparently not enough. Yet :)
Be sure that you don't have 'audio compression' activated on your recording device. That's a feature which automatically adjusts the amplitude gain according to the recorded volume - its used for speech recording so that the person's voice stays reasonably constant. However, it will totally eliminate the dynamics of your playing.
Elise - thank you, I've started to wonder about the software and will look into it further. I record, and have lessons, on my Windows 10 laptop.
Find an observer (real or imaginary) who can listen to you 100 feet away. If you can convince that person of the difference between dynamic levels, you are on your way to having solved the problem. Are there any parts in your concerti where you have imitations (first forte, then piano)?
Just a point - your teacher is probably correct BUT video calling compresses sound - makes the loud dynamics softer and the soft dynamics louder. As a teacher I've found the dynamics the hardest thing to listen to with students during lockdown learning.
Good to know that about video calling James. I think he is correct though, when I record myself I note the same thing...it's not near as different as I think it is.
Another voice for exaggerating. It seems that most people hear their own dynamic as much more extreme than it is. I don't know if this is psychological problem (we all hear what we would like to hear just like we tend to believe things that we wish to believe).
Having a good dynamic range in your playing is of course very important, but I'd be cautious about thinking dynamics as literal volume control. For example Mendelssohn Concerto II, Brahms Sonata I and the Debussy Sonata all start p, however I would approach the start of those pieces completely differently when thinking about what colour the composer perhaps was looking for with the p dynamic.
Part of it is "seeing dynamics" because my book 1-3 students are typically using bow distribution and bow speed. For example, a crescendo phrase should look like smaller bows gradually lengthening into longer bows (which have to be faster in order to cover more length of bow). In the book 4 last Seitz, B minor section, each measure basically takes up a full bow length, but it's the speed and how it changes, which part of the bow is faster or slower, where the pause or string crossing is, that conveys the mood. (For the young ones, I ask them to come up with a personal tale of woe, such as: sibling broke my favorite toy, I didn't get my ice cream reward, looking forward to going to somewhere and it got cancelled, etc.) In book 3-4, we work on starting to interpret F and P as representing the "character" of the music or phrase rather than strictly volume.
My teacher says my dynamics are bad right now too, and our lessons are with Skype, and he's never said this before about my playing so it was kind of a shocker. Not sure where the settings are within Skype but I will look for them now. I know where they are in Zoom.
Contra James: I think as a first order consideration dynamics is indeed about volume control. The finesses can and will be added later. Volume control is especially important for orchestra playing. Less for concerto playing where the piano-effect comes from the orchestra being soft and the soloist needs to adjust to be heard above the orchestra.
I was told as a young pre-teen/teen that I needed to "move more".* I was definitely not "naturally expressive" and possibly, I was also self-conscious and unwilling to experiment. I remember in recent years observing a teen girl working on Bach A minor in a Suzuki program masterclass. The teacher was trying all sorts of things to get her to "loosen up" and "express" and she was just having none of it. The parent seemed disappointed so I tried to encourage her privately that I was similar and that her daughter would come out of her shell when ready.
I remember something from a good conductor; Suspense, drama, is created by playing soft, piano, not forte. We can still have an intense quality of sound (vibrato, focus) while playing piano.
Buri, as you may know from other discussions, I'm working on the Kabalevsky Concerto, so of course I'm studying the Oistrakh recording because the concerto was written for him. And yes... no note is too short for Oistrakh to use anything less than his whole bow. Bach Double? Same. I could make an analogy to a device ... oh, never mind.
if you have a larger room or some kind of hall available with good acoustics, you might try focusing on the sound coming back to you from the room, as opposed to the louder sound under your left ear. Doing that, you'll perceive more nuance in your playing and automatically want to adjust your sound to make it bigger and more expressive. This might take a little time or the right place to hear it at first, but once you do it's easier to hear it in a smaller room, too.
Ear plugs might help in that part of the process, at least in your left ear.
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