Welcome to your online lesson notes page Ben!

Fri 25th Sep 2020

Keep warming up with the scale in one position. Here is a video of Janine Jansen (playing from 3:15) which I think demonstrates really well the idea of having a low left wrist and letting the fingerwork happen all from the base joints of the fingers, especially in the faster passages.

Queen of Sheba

  • Less bow, a little lower down (around the middle), creating good contact with the string. Within this, check in the mirror and look closely at the tip of your bow – is it twisting and turning, or running in a straight line?
  • Try a little faster – the semiquavers should be machine-like (not too musical!).
  • For accents, start with the bow on the string for a clean. punchy start.
  • Troubleshoot any corners that slow you down, eg. bars 31-43.
  • Practice 49 slowly for keeping 2nd and 3rd fingers down, perhaps even in chords.
  • Try not to waste bow on quick string crossings.
  • At E and G, think of two voices interjecting.

Tue 22nd Sep 2020

Kreutzer 28

  • Aim for a top speed of crotchet=50. I would start each practice with a metronome, either playing sections through with it, or listening to it for reference before you play.
  • Start almost completely at the heel, and return there in your first rest.
  • Keep trill speeds relaxed to match the tempo and mood, and make terminations part of the trill, leading seamlessly into the next note.

Fri 18th Sep 2020

Scale in One Position

  • Keep this nice and slow so as to use all your bow and focus on accurate finger placement.
  • Read over last week’s notes on this too.
  • I suggested thinking of a different bit of technique each time you play it. Choose from:
    • Standing posture (straight back);
    • Violin position (scroll as high as chin rest);
    • Elbow levels (left, right or both) to facilitate smooth string crossings;
    • Accurate finger placement;
    • Bow hold;
    • Straight bowing;
    • Sounding point (distance from bridge);
    • Left wrist position.

Queen of Sheba

  • Read last week’s notes;
  • When working slowly, use the opportunity to zone in on good tuning and look ahead so you know what’s coming;
  • Keep left wrist down as much as you can – fingers should be dropping from the base joint, independent of the palm of your hand – and try to keep the fingers as close to the string as possible when you lift them (think lazy, not tight);
  • Keep an eye on the sounding point (distance from bridge).

Tue 15th Sep 2020

Kreutzer 1

  • Your last week on this!
  • Troubleshoot the scales (mostly on up bows) at about crotchet=60 in two ways:
    • 3 notes, then 4, the 5 etc. (maybe spend a bit longer on the ones that end in a shift)
    • play half-beats with a quaver rest in between
  • Make sure your violin is stable on your shoulder so that the shifts don’t upset your bow
  • Know where the string crossings are.

Find another to start looking at next Tuesday.

Sat 12th Sep 2020

Scale in one position

  • Play in B flat major as a warm-up for Q of S
  • nice and slow, 4 notes per bow – use the full length of the bow
  • Check bow hold before you start – curve pinkie and thumb
  • Watch your left hand in a mirror if you can – make sure 4th fingers are hovering over their spots at all times and you’re not having to adjust your hand shape for them

Queen of Sheba

  • Crotchet = 60 for now, then notch sections up as you get comfy with the notes
  • Just below the middle of the bow
  • It’s an uplifting piece so try to keep an upwards feeling rather than emphasising the main beats
  • Your bowing is nice and neat when on one string – aim for this in bars with lots of string crossings too ( not too much bow)
  • When working on tuning, think in chords. Tune the notes as double stops and try to keep all fingers available at all times, like your 4th fingers in the scale in one position.

Tue 8th Sep 2020


Add this scale (4 notes per bow) to work on consistent hand shape and finger drop:

You can play it in any key – perhaps choose the key of the piece you’ll be playing afterwards.

You can read about modes here and here.

Kreutzer 1

  • Work backwards to get more familiar with the end of the piece – G to the end first, then F etc. so that you are able to do the bowings comfortably.
  • If you find yourself regularly running out of bow anywhere, or realise you need to get through the bow quicker, stop and write yourself a note at the start of the slur.
  • Listen to the sound quality to make sure you’re not starving the sound anywhere. If you are, work on the balance between a slow bow and not too much pressure on the string.

Sun 25th Sep 2016

Your first lesson with me post-KAM! 😄🎻

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