Back to basics

Edited: March 14, 2021, 10:27 AM · Hi all,
As I mentioned in a previous post, I hace recently come back to playing my instruments after about a 7 month hiatus. I want to go back to basics on both instruments, but am unsure what pieces etc. to pick. Does anyone have any suggestions? On the violin, I have been playing Beethoven F major romance and Haydn G major concerto. On the viola, I have been playing Bach C major suite almost exclusively.
I aim to improve my ryhthm and intonation a lot this time around so a lot of scales and also does anyone have any rhythm exercises or something as well?

Editing to add: I will be doing this without a teacher for the forseeable future (due to Covid of course, and my own current financial situation)

Thanks very much in advance

Replies (17)

Edited: March 15, 2021, 2:55 AM · Intonation & rhythm.
Apart from all the excellent advice you are about to receive,
do spend time listening (and if possible watching) those works.
When working alone we must "nourish" our ear(s) with the right sounds before seeking the means to reproduce them.
Don't worry about "copying" someone else's playing, it will still be your own mind, heart, ears and fingers doing the work.

No amount of written scales, studies or compositions will provide good intonation and rhythm!

Bon courage!

March 14, 2021, 11:51 AM · I think Roy Sonne's "School of Violin Artistry":

may be a friendly and helpful site to visit.

March 14, 2021, 11:56 AM · Andrew, I've actually seen a lot of his videos. I find them really informative
Edited: March 14, 2021, 9:17 PM · For the violin I recommend perhaps Mozart E-Minor Sonata K304, and if you have not done at least three Handel Sonatas they are lovely and very good for your general technique. Also you should do something with double-stops. If you have had some double-stops work before, then you could do the Bach D-Minor Sarabande. Another lovely piece that might be about your level is the first movement of "Summer" from Vivaldi's "Four Seasons." For a romantic lyrical piece, how about "Vocalise" by Rachmaninoff. And the Allegro Brilliant by Ten Have is a nice piece for violin at about your level too. Ordinarily after you do Beethoven Op. 50 and Haydn G Major you should be on your way to Mozart No. 3, but if you have been away from your instruments for a while this would not be a good choice; also the cadenzas are all loaded with double-stops and the Beethoven and Haydn do not prepare you in that area.
March 14, 2021, 11:25 PM · Those are some really good suggestions Paul. Do you have any idea on what Handel sonatas?
March 15, 2021, 12:05 AM · You should try the Mozart Violin Concerto No 3 in G major! It's very beautiful, pretty, easy, playful, and fun! Perhaps skip the cadenza as that can be hard for certain people. Maybe you can write your own cadenza to suit your hand? This is a very great piece that requires style and musicality above technique. You seem like an old person, and they say old people have lots of musicality.
March 15, 2021, 12:48 AM · Greetings,
Jake, the Handel sonatas are full scale masterpieces. These days it’s not so common but 20c violinists used to do them in recitals all the time. Milstein’s favorite was the A major which he carried on playing all his life. The d major is a huge work which covers a huge array of bowing and left hand techniques. If you can play that perfectly you are good! Some Russian pedagogues had a habit of taking super high level players back to basics using that particular piece. It was a favorite of Szigeti who used an amazing bowing in the last movement . The f major is often touted as the easiest but word like ‘easy’ and ‘more difficult’ are really rather meaningless in relation to the great works which stand along side the Bach solo sonatas as standard repertoire in my opinion.
Back to basics is an interesting expression for violinists. In a sense, we are always going back to basics, it is just applied at a different level. Whatever we are playing the same principles are being addressed: is it a good sound, in time and in tune plus as relaxed as is possible for any given technique or moment . this last is ignored quite a lot so once you master a passage it is a good idea to pause t, tell yourself to let go and then try again. You don’t even need to specify what you are letting go of... I got this idea form Julia Berishikova (something like tha) You should study her videos very carefully on you tube. For rhythm, everything you need to know about developing internal rhythm can be found in Daniel Kurganov’s video on the subject.
Buying a copy ofThe Violin Lesson by Simon Fischer might seem expensive but it is a book to be taken very seriously that opens up more and more possibilities the more you study it.
For getting scales in tune , Simon7s scale manual is also a very valuable investment and it contains a plethora of important scales which cannot be found in other scale manuals. It si not true that all scale books are pretty much the same...
practicing basic bowing everyday is essentia. Casorti, sevcik opus 3, kreutzer no2 (do that one in second position for fun) .I use Sammons book for technical work a lot these days. for me, two finger scales 12121212, or 343434343434 are more cost effective than regular scales.both on one string and across all four. kreutzer major etude for shifting. download yost from imslp if you are a masochist.
March 15, 2021, 1:46 AM · You got some good advice here. Mozart 3 will whip you back into shape in no time and the Simon Fischer books are invaluable. And proving Buri's point I completely forgot about the Handel Sonatas although I only ever played the F major one. Listening to good playing is also something that is often overlooked so Adrian is right on the money.

I never used Roy Sonne personally, but I used to watch his videos and they were very informative.

BTW, Buri, I believe the violinist you are referring to is Julia Bushkova. She's a violin professor at UNT where I currently attend.

March 15, 2021, 1:59 AM · yep. great lady. I just wish she would actually write her name somewhere on her videos. They are currently some of the best teaching available on YouTube.
ps the voice recorder calls me this, bullet or moriaty on a bad day...
Edited: March 18, 2021, 12:56 AM · I just read your bio... and you're not an old man! Sorry for the assumption. Your bio says you've been playing for 13 years and even considering joining a conservatory (which indicates a high level of playing), so based on your bio I think you shouldn't be playing technically easier stuff like a Beethoven romance in order to "whip you back into shape". 13 years of playing is a long time, even considering your 7-month hiatus, and you should use something more technical. I recommend the Paganini caprices 13, 16, 20, 9, and then 24-var 6. These are entry-level caprices (not 24) that don't resemble the demonic virtuosity that Paganini's works championed as much as 1-7. However, these caprices are good for exercising some techniques that you might need to check. My advice might not be the best as I am a high school student who has never gone through a hiatus. I become mentally deranged if I don't play the violin daily!

Edit: -var 6 as in minus, not recommending var 6 for obvious reasons!

March 15, 2021, 3:30 AM · Mike I have played for nearly 14 years, yeah. But a lot of the teachers I have had in that time have been extremely poor/sub-par. I didn't get my first decent teacher until I was 19, and we tried to wash away 9 years of bad habits but we didn't see each other enough. I am nowhere near ready in any capacity to play any form of Paganini haha. Maybe one day
March 16, 2021, 2:42 AM · So I am now taking it upon myself to try and fix as many of the problems by myself, with the help of all Simon Fischer books (minus scales), YouTube and your goodselves here, before I start taking lessons again slightly later this year
March 16, 2021, 1:17 PM · Good luck and I hope you get up to speed!
March 16, 2021, 2:55 PM · You asked which Handel sonatas I recommend, and Bob's your uncle because my three favorites -- and the ones that have been discussed in this thread by others too -- are all in the Suzuki books. A major, D major, and F major. Dust off your martele and rock some Handel!
March 16, 2021, 3:27 PM · Handel and Mozart are great, and the F major is probably the easiest to start, but I don't think they would be particularly helpful if you are looking for remediation. I would play them in the spirit of having fun, but I made the biggest jumps myself playing the romantic-leaning student repertoire, like Viotti, Beriot, Vieuxtemps etc, as it asks you to play "bigger". I think etudes are really the key to building your playing up. Salmon Fisher can probably spawn good practice habits, even if I roe reading his work.

I think going back to Handel and Mozart is far more satisfying once you've built up a healthy sound in the romantic repertoire and have more bow control - I think too many western teachers put this music too early in the process.

March 16, 2021, 3:35 PM · I had a play through of the F major today along with the first (flute) part of Telamann's first canonic sonata. I wanted something easier rhymically so I can use it to build up later on. But I will take another look at Mozart E minor too. I think I had a look at it before years ago
March 16, 2021, 4:49 PM · Greetings?
the e minor is one of Mozart’s masterpieces. The Grumiaux recording is heartrending.

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