Welcome to your online lesson notes page Don!

Tue 12th Jan 2021


  • In the chromatic scale, climb up the A string 123123… and then do 12344 at the top.

Bach Courante

  • Warm up with a 2 octave D minor scale, then warm up your bow playing the scale with semiquavers, maybe two on each note, thinking abuot which part of the bow you’re using and how consistent a sound you’re getting throughout the scale.
  • Try starting the movement a little lower in the bow.
  • In the chords, try to never have the bottom or top note sounding alone.
  • Take good care over your intonation in the first bar of the piece and of the second half.
  • Have a few goes through with a comfortable metronome beat, but also do some slow practice without the metronome with a focus on intonation.

Bach Sarabande

  • Don’t be in a hurry to come off your dotted crotchets in 9 and 10.
  • Try not to let it sound rushed ever – keep a laid back feeling.
  • Keep an eye on where the melody line is going, trying not to let the chords get in the way.

Schumann 3

  • Aim for gently elegant.
  • Start near the middle of the bow and think more about your bow distribution in the first phrase.

Mon 14th Dec 2020

Bach Allemande

  • D minor scale warm-up – see if you can become an expert at scales! You could visit the MTB website and pick a level you’d like to start at.
  • In bar 3, roll your chord.
  • Careful of the rhythm in bar 6.
  • In 10, start the trill on the upper note.

Schumann 2nd Romance

  • A major scale to warm up.
  • Aim for higher harmonics – like with the 1st Romance, start your practice by practising all the harmonics and start your shift by getting the finger of the previous note into 4th position.
  • Try to read ahead more so you know which route each phrase is taking.
  • Keep the bow running smoothly on grace notes.
  • Remember the tempo direction!

Bach Courante

  • In the first bar of the 2nd half, make sure the high 2nd finger is very different to the low 2nd finger in the next bar.

Look at the Sarabande too if you have time and please send me a photo of the Courante with some bar numbers before next lesson.

Have a lovely Christmas!

Tue 1st Dec 2020

Great work on In The Bleak Midwinter!

Bach Allemande

  • Try the 3rd line slower for tuning.
  • Try at crotchet = 45 so you can enjoy the scenery!
  • Keep a constant tempo – slurs tend to rush and separate notes tend to linger. We can add some of these nuances back once you’ve got a good skeleton set up.

Mon 16th Nov 2020

Bach Prélude

  • In your warm-up scale, try not to lift your elbow as you approach the heel on up bows, especially on the way down.
  • We looked at the Bach from b.30. Highlight the individual notes with a fast, light bow rather than by giving them more time.
  • Anywhere with several separate semiquavers in a row, check you’re bowing straight – remember Bobby Bow!
  • Practice the last beats of bars 37, 38 and 39 for tuning and smooth string crossing.
  • Work on this section (from the top of the page) with a fine toothcomb listening out for any intonation issues.
  • Practice from the end of 42 listening for in tune Es. Then notice that the middle of bar 44 is the only place in this area that reaches out of a position instead of properly shifting.
  • Play 49 plus one note til you fee you could find the C# in your sleep! That bar line should be the bottom of the roller-coaster dip, propelling us up to the dotted quaver.

Bach Allemande, 1st half

  • Practice the first 2 notes a few times, but just with the top 2 notes of the chord.
  • In all chords, just play as much of it as you can manage whilst maintaining the musical line. Once it’s completely confident you can add one more note.

Mon 2nd Nov 2020


  • We did D minor as a warm-up. Keep your left hand as relaxed as possible, especially on shifts, and work on keeping your bow straight at the tip, especially on the C string.

Bach Prélude

  • Go through the piece once to mark in figure letters.
  • Think about the opening phrase in particular in terms of moments of rest and moments of travel (like a roller-coaster!).
  • Turn on your supersonic listening to find places where string crossings could be cleaner, i.e. bars 9 and 10. Careful not to get tense and abrupt with them though – keep the bow rolling, just plan ahead a bit more.
  • End of bar 11 as clean as possible.
  • Practice the first note of bar 22 for clarity (it’s on a new, thicker string).
  • How can you use your bow to realise the dynamics?
  • Work on the string crossing in 35.
  • For sections of tough tuning, set a metronome to help you practice it slowly.
  • At bar 59, practice just the bottom two notes of the chords, especially the last two bars. Keep this practice relaxed and listen carefully for tuning. Always try to get to the right tuning from the chord before, rather than adjusting once you’re there.

Mon 12th Oct 2020


  • Keep warming up with A minor and the harmonics exercises – maybe add a G# to the second one?
  • Add a one octave A minor scale up the A string to your warm up to help set you up for good tuning in the first phrase, with the harmonic at the top: 01212344.
  • We cleaned up bar 21 (the bow change and string crossing) – practice this way a few more times if needed.
  • Try to get bar 22 5 times in a row.
  • In bar 30, practice placing the 3rd and 4th fingers together.
  • Practice from 59 slowly to combine a silky sound quality with good intonation.
  • Aim for contrast from 71 with scherzoso staccatos.
  • Go through the piece a few times to isolate harmonics with a focus on the dismounts!

Bach Prélude

  • I really enjoyed listening to this version. Try her fingering in the opening phrase and see what you think! She also has a good Andante tempo. Remember to keep thinking ahead in dotted quavers.

Mon 5th Oct 2020

A minor warm-up – Think through the arpeggio before you play it, especially clocking where the second octave starts.

Schumann Romance op. 94

I have had fun dreaming up these harmonic exercises for you!

  • Try the opening phrase from cold as much as you can – every time you walk past your viola!
  • More contact with the string at the start – imagine something strong far away. Achieve the p by bow tilt and sounding point (fingerboard).
  • Pick a phrase and imagine the sound you want from your vibrato, then try to recreate it.
  • Use the bowings from YouTube only as a guide – sometimes you could change bow a little less.
  • Practice any problem shifts just up to the first note in the new position. I would suggest repeating until you’ve hit the nail on the head at least 3 consecutive times, but be honest and only move on when it feels ingrained!

Start looking at some more Bach.

Fri 25th Sep 2020

A minor warm-up – Scale and arpeggio in 4th position. When descending in the scale, anticipate string crossings with left elbow swing. Try the arpeggio a little slower to really centre the tuning.

Schumann Romance op. 94

  • Be brave with the harmonics – they are higher than you think! They are 4th position, but the light finger pressure means you’ll need to aim a little higher.
  • Listen for smooth bowing in the shifts and make the first note in the new position as beautiful as t would have been without the shift.
  • Add more drama in sfps and sforzandos with bow speed.
  • Watch the YouTube video for ideas on more bow changes.

Mon 7th Sep 2020

A minor warm-up – Scale and arpeggio in 4th position. Keep the 3rd low, especially in the arpeggio as this is the only note which makes it minor!

Schumann Romance op. 94

  • Start by playing the first 3 notes strongly
  • Keep the tempo quite slow to make sure you centre the notes well – within this, use free bowing for now. Whenever you discover a brilliant bowing, write it in! You’ll often find the 2nd quaver to be a good changing place.
  • Look through to find every place you have a harmonic and play each one as an exercise, just with one or two notes either side, very slowly and listening for a ringing tone.

Wed 31st Jan 2018

Your first lesson with me! 😄🎻

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