Violin pre-screenings

Edited: November 1, 2017, 7:17 AM · I have been playing the violin for 7 years now and I am currently in my senior year of high school with 4 weeks until my pre-screenings. My pick was the Bruch concerto which I have been learning since July and I am still having trouble with the "a poco" section mostly does anyone have any advice on learning that section?

Replies (18)

November 1, 2017, 7:43 AM · I am not sure what you mean by "a poco" section. Bar number or rehearsal letter and edition, please?
November 1, 2017, 7:47 AM · The edition is by Henry Schradiek and the bar number I believe it is bar 90-106
Edited: November 1, 2017, 8:02 AM · That's the "stringendo poco a poco" over the chromatic scale bit that then turns into broken chords, that comes before a big tutti. The page turn splits the "poco a poco". You want to be sufficiently musically literate about terminology to notice that "a poco" doesn't make any sense on its own. (The phrase means "get faster, little by little".)

What specifically are you having trouble with?

Edited: November 1, 2017, 8:12 AM · I am having specifically trouble with adding the slurs when playing the notes.
November 1, 2017, 8:14 AM · Could you ask your teacher for advice, if you have one?
November 1, 2017, 8:24 AM · Yes I do and the advice he gave me was very helpful now I am playing the notes right but, I am not adding in the slurs correctly.
November 1, 2017, 8:43 AM · The slurs are just the entire chromatic run of notes. What's difficult about them? Or are you talking about the arpeggiated chords?
November 1, 2017, 8:57 AM · I am talking about the chords more they are my biggest struggle at the moment.
November 1, 2017, 9:04 AM · What's difficult is of course putting them all together in fluid runs, with the proper bow distribution. It's not easy, but there is a method.

Jamilah, I'm wondering if you have been taught to practice in groups and rhythms? You can also call it an "acceleration exercise." The least productive thing to do is to just go at it, trying to combine the notes with bowings. You have to break the problem into manageable bits. There are several problems here, and each has to be tackled in turn:
1. simply learning the notes.
2. learning the shifts
3. learning the string crossings
4. learning to play quickly in one bow as marked. Do NOT attempt #4 without learning #s 1, 2, and 3 solidly. That may mean memorizing.

When you really know the notes, shifts, and string crossings, then you can begin to put it together with slurs, going from the fewest notes per slur (2) to however it's marked. So you can do 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 16, etc. Take a short rest between groupings to look ahead. As you increase the number of notes per bow, you must accelerate a little--you don't want to play a group of 12 the same speed as a group of 4. That would not be productive. You have to keep pushing it.

As I tell my students, when you need to iron out a shirt, there is ONLY one tool: and iron. And the "iron" in musical practice is groups and rhythms. Different rhythms are also important to iron out the wrinkles, which are typically the shifts and string crossings. Use dotted and reverse-dotted rhythms.

I introduce the technique of practicing in groups and rhythms and acceleration exercises (they are practically the same thing) in scales so that it become an ingrained habit of practice (ideally). You should have a sequence of groupings and rhythms memorized. I can think of 10 to start with. This is how you attack just about any passage work systematically and get results in the least amount of time.
Eventually this is followed by metronome work.

I can email a list of groups and rhythms that I use to anyone that is unfamiliar with the technique.

November 1, 2017, 10:29 AM · Thank you for the advice I actually just thought of doing that today so during lunch I practiced them section by section and I plan later on today to practice with a metronome.
November 1, 2017, 10:45 AM · Another useful practice technique with slurs is to practice them articulated--that is, practice the notes under the correct bows, but stop the bow on every note. This helps with determining proper bow distribution, and it also helps clean up the string crossings. Best done at a somewhat slower tempo.
November 1, 2017, 11:30 AM · Hey Scott could you email me those groups and rhythms.
November 1, 2017, 5:24 PM · Samson,
Sure. Let me scan something and I'll get it to you.
Edited: November 1, 2017, 5:50 PM · Scott, thanks! I have been working on this piece for a few months and your advice is very helpful.
November 2, 2017, 1:37 AM · Hi Scott, would be great if you could email me those too. I would send you my mail address but your contact button seems not to work!!? I am not sure if mine works. Could you try?
Thanks a lot
Edited: November 2, 2017, 4:59 AM · Scott I'll take you up on that! pdeck (at)

And thanks in advance! A fresh look at an old problem is always welcome.

When my daughter was working on Bruch I was grateful that she had played other things with fast arpeggiated sequences before such as Bach E Major Praeludio (especially that one), Vivaldi Summer first movement, Fiorillo No. 28, etc.

With the chromatics you just have to go slow and get those in tune from the outset. That's true of everything but I always find chromatics need a little more care. Maybe that's just me. In Bars 96-97 it was helpful to check against the piano to make sure that the diminished-chord sequence was in tune. In bar 102 it helped to think about actually playing the second "E" of each tied E-E grouping -- as if it were slurred rather than tied, and with an accent on the second tied note. Later after you have acclimated to the rhythm the accent can be backed off again.

By the way if you want a scholarly edition of this piece, check out Bruce Berg's web site:

The measures are already numbered, and "a poco" is not on a separate page. :)

November 2, 2017, 6:16 AM · @Scott
November 2, 2017, 10:03 AM · The advice that Scott and Mary Ellen gave is great for the chromatics, but if you're having problems with the arpeggiated chords, you need a different practice technique for those.

There are basically three problems here: going smoothly from chord to chord in the left hand, getting the right hand bowing pattern worked out, and coordinating those things.

Learn the right-hand bowing pattern using open strings. Practice the chord changes as if they were triple-stops, with a synchronized movement of the whole hand and all three fingers arriving on the string essentially simultaneously -- just like you would do it for the Chaconne. Once both right and left hands are entirely secure, the coordination should be fairly trivial; this is actually one of the easier passages in the concerto (IMHO), so I'm guessing that it might be more of a mental block than a physical problem.

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