Flora

Welcome to your online lesson notes page Flora!

Mon 29th Mar 2021

Humoresque

  • Hardly do the rests – this will help with the flow and carefree mood.
  • Use bars 2 and 3 and to get nearer the heel for the long note.
  • In poco piu mosso, make sure you’re really comfortable with the shifts and bowings.
  • Work on the last note of line 5 to make sure it’s long enough – count 4 beats in the bar and slow down for the rit.
  • Practice the last 2 bars of the page slowly for secure shifting, using an F natural as your ghost note.
  • Only a tiny bit faster at the top of page 2 – it’s more a feeling of flow.
  • Try to use a flatter bow hair for this section, and more arm weight (try not to think of the words digging or pressure).
  • Careful of your tuning on the last note of line 5 (p2).
  • A general note for this piece – make sure you think about your ghost notes all the time, not just when you’re practising the shifts in isolation. Practising your shifts with your eyes closed, getting to know the feel of the intervals you’re shifting may help with this.

The Swan

  • The shift in your first bar should have a lazy feeling in your hand.

Mon 22nd Mar 2021

The Swan

  • Work a little more on accuracy of your first shift down to the F#. Whatever your thought process is, make sure you also think the same in bar 11.
  • Don’t be in a hurry in the rests in bar 10, and practice starting smoothly at bar 11.
  • Just a little more work on tuning at the end of 16, and in 32.

Humoresque

  • Make sure the melody of the first section really flows: lengthen the semiquavers so the rests aren’t to abrupt.
  • Work on line 4 for the articulation in the first bar and the rhythm in the 4th bar. Make sure you do the same every time it comes.
  • Practice the last 2 bars of the piece to register the rhythm, then play the last 2 bars of line 5 (1st page) to try to mimic the rhtyhm despite the bowing being different.
  • Not quite so fast in the poco piu mosso section – it needs a heavy, rich feeling. To achieve this, make sure you’re not scooting all the way through the bow at the start of each bar.

Mon 15th Mar 2021

The Swan

  • Smooth down bows to start the long notes at the end of each phrase.
  • Tuning bars 11-17. Any insecure places, break them down into small chunks and practice them separately.
  • Great bow change at 42!

Humoresque

  • Great articulation at the start! Keep counting for that minim in line 2.
  • At Poco Piu Mosso, make sure the 3rd note is separated (just like you’re doing beautifully in the second bar). In the 3rd bar, keep it smooth – it should contrast with the first two bars.
  • In the 7th bar of that section, make sure the last C is long enough (your exercise of taking out the grace note seemed to work well!).
  • On the 2nd bar of the last line of p1, stay up in 5th position for 5 notes.
  • Think of the first section of p.2 as your bow wading through treacle.
  • Watch out for the bowing in the 2nd bars of both line 1 and 2 of this page.
  • Use a ghost note for the 1st bar of line 3.
  • Make a final decision about your fingering in the last bar of this section (end of line 5), then practice it lots with the ghost note.

Tue 9th Mar 2021

The Swan

  • Practice the first bar with a ghost note G with your 2nd finger (3 tones).
  • Careful of the tuning at the end of 16.
  • Don’t be afraid of the slide in 19 – it can help with accuracy.
  • Aim a bit lower with the C in 23.
  • Mark more of the G# in 32.
  • Follow the fingering at 43.
  • From 47, try to make changes to down bows as smooth as possible.

Humoresque

  • Lovely vibrato in the first section!
  • Try to think in whole bars at the start, which will help the flow.
  • Use the crescendo in bar 2 to get nearer the middle (also the next time this tune comes).
  • In the Poco piu mosso, separate the demisemiquaver at the end of the slur.
  • Watch out for the rhythm in the 4th bar of this section.
  • Make the A leading back to the opening material longer (beacuse of the rit) to get you back to the upper half.
  • Get used to the sound of the high B flat at the bottom of the page by playing it in 1st position first.
  • In the next section, aim for a nice rich sound. Heavy arm and lots of beefy vibrato.
  • Remember to keep using guide notes in your shifts.

Fri 5th Mar 2021

The Swan

  • Practice with a metronome to make sure the quavers aren’t faster than the crotchets (c. crotchet=70).
  • Think of the vibrato as a constant whole hand motion rather than starting fresh on each finger switch.
  • Isolat any unstable shifts (like we did in your lesson between bars 16 and 17) and practice them with ghost notes, making sure you know the distance of shift (tones and semitones).

Humoresque

  • Start in the upper half of the bow.
  • Make sure the minim bar 4 is full length.
  • Keep the left hand soft, so there’s a tiny bit of vibrato at all times.
  • Keep the bow strong for harmonics.
  • Just work up to the end of the first page for now.

Fri 26th Feb 2021

Use slow strong scale practice as an opportunity to work on using your bow to improve your tone.

The Swan

  • Warm up with a super slow D major scale in semibreves at about crotchet = 50, with a good vibrato and slow strong bow. Then try to translate that strong slow bow into the piece to help with a robust sound.
  • Make sure you play my introduction as a two bar introduction to help you get the right speed and feeling.
  • Focus on the 1st finger anchor being secure 21-24.
  • If you ever feel like you’re running out of bow, think about how much you’re using on the first crotchet of the bar and remind yourself of how you used the bow in the warm-up scale. It should be a little less than 1/3.

Fri 12th Feb 2021

Preparing for high playing: rest the fingertips on the string and scoot them all the way up to the top and back a few times. Notice where your thumb is going as you do this.

Black Eyes

  • Practice from 33 with a good core to your sound.
  • How smooth can you get the string crossings in 42 and 44?
  • A long, quick bow on the harmonic in 49.
  • High trem section: I’ll send a video of me playing it so you can see how little you need to move to get between notes.
  • Check the metronome marks on each section. In the faster sections, try to use less bow, especially in places like bar 69.
  • For the chords at the end, make sure you know which ones are a tone and which are a semitone over the string Practice the shift in bar 95 quite a bit.

The Swan

  • Aim for every bow change to be super smooth.
  • Keep a calm feeling throughout, keeping the 3 beats in the bar steady – especially when you have dotted minims! Play my accompaniment track as an intro before you play.
  • Listen to a recording and use it as a reference to write in some dynamics.

Fri 5th Feb 2021

Shifting – try to notice places where you’re unsure of tricky shifts and try to think about them from several perspectives.

Black Eyes

  • Watch the tuning on the line of bar 40, making sure you know the geography really well.
  • Practice finding your high G# in 49 in steps:
    • In 3rd position on the A string, one octave lower.
    • Replace with your 1st finger.
    • Play the octave higher with 4th finger.
    • Replace with 2nd finger.
  • In the whole of this section, you can check every A with the open A string for now.
  • When you’re really high up, bring your thumb around and hook it up underneath the top lip of the violin.

Fri 29th Jan 2021

Bartok

  • In your E minor warm up, be really careful of the tuning at the top – you’ll actually need to move fingers out of the way when tuning the 3rd and 4th fingers.
  • See if you can get a bit more rubato and espressivo into the opening section.
  • Careful of the tuning bars 15-18.
  • Before you play 21, tune a B, C, D and E with your tuner to really get your ear listening for pure intonation.
  • At 30, remember you have 4 bars repeated.
  • Try bar 34 with a 4th finger at the top, but make sure it’s not too high!
  • Make sure you have a true shift in bar 46, so your 1st finger is in tune.
  • Any places where you often do the wrong fingering (like bar 49), play that section 5 times in a row to get the old fingering out of your system.

Black Eyes

  • Opening section: try to make the slurred scales more fluid, planning ahead with your hand shapes on each string.
  • Great tone in the next section, but I think you can develop it even further.
  • From bar 49, play the tune 2 octaves lower without tremolo for a while until you think you could sing the melody. Then you’ll know what you’re heading for once you play it at pitch. Be strict with the rhythm here too, as it’s important to be really sure of that when adding tremolo.
  • Whenever you have the dotted crotchet/quaver rhythm, keep it relaxed.
  • For the shift in 95, practice the 2nd finger shift from C# to A.
  • Practice the last two harmonics up and down the D string so you get really used to the size of the octave gap.

Click here to download the Composer Alphabet.

Fri 22nd Jan 2021

Scales

  • E minor – practice the first 4 notes up and down a few times to get the 1st finger in the right place.

Bartok

  • At the beginning, listen out for the tuning of the Bs.
  • Make the first note of 11 an extension of the quavers in the previous bar.
  • Practice 10 up to the E, then play GAB in 2nd position on the E string to help this shift.
  • Bar 11 – get the accent with a fast, long bow, on the string.
  • Get used to the difference in feeling in your bow arm on alternate bars from 10 – first light and almost as though you’re air bowing, then down to earth on the odd numbered bars.
  • From 34, listen out for your C naturals. Make sure your pizzicato is all at the end
  • When practising with your bow, put your fingers down as quickly as you would when playing it at speed, but bow the notes individually and slowly to check the tuning.
  • Bow close to the bridge for the harmonic.

Black Eyes

  • In the scales at the start, you can start them slower and speed up through each one.
  • From 18, start slow but don’t get any slower. It should have a general feeling of moving forwards.
  • Work on the tuning of the E and F in 39. You’ll need to shove your 3 out of the way with the 4!

Tue 12th Jan 2021

Bartok

  • Play the dotted crotchets for their full lenght in 11 and 13.
  • No need to shift between bars 26 and 27.
  • Careful in bar 34 wth the C naturals – build that chord from the top down to help the reach.
  • Pluck with the pad of the finger, not the tip, and spread the chords slightly so you can hear the tuning. Keep reminding yourself to relax your left hand.
  • Practice the pizzicato chords with your bow and as separate notes to help hear the tuning.
  • Spend some time practising the fifths in the middle of the chords at 30.

Black Eyes

  • Watch out for B flats in the ad lib section.
  • Lots of lovely thick vibrato!

Mon 14th Dec 2020

Grade 6 book

  • Start having a look at some other pieces and send me a WhatsApp picture of any you’d like to start on 4th January.

Jingle Bell Rock

  • Have a listen to the real thing (here) and hum along with it just before playing it – beware I think it’s a semitone lower than your version so don’t rely on it for tuning!! Just get into the swinging feel of it.

I know you’re not signed up for my advent calendar but thought you might enjoy these two videos from it anyway – Happy Christmas!

Mon 7th Dec 2020

Ladies in Lavender

  • On the first page, how smooth can your string crossings be?
  • Don’t run out of steam on long slurs and bash the next notes.
  • At the top of page 2, keep practising the way you have been as the work is paying off!
  • Gradually speed up the run in 33 so it fits within its allotted space.
  • In 34, more contact with the string using your index finger on the bow and try to make down and up bows equally strong.
  • Careful of the tuning at the end of 36 – it’s just a semitone back remember!
  • Now you’re comfortable with how 38 should sound, think more about the rhythm.
  • Bring your thumb around for the last note.

Jingle Bell Rock

  • Don’t forget to look out for the notes that are on the beat!
  • Keep your bow arm relaxed.

Tue 1st Dec 2020

Scales

  • In your scale in 6ths, aim for bigger tones across the string.
  • Have your bow on both strings before you start your up bow.

Ladies in Lavender

  • Read over last week’s notes first as there are a few useful things there you can be working on.
  • Practice the first two notes of 33 slowly (as two semibreves) with a tuner each practice until you’ve done it comfortably 5 times in a row. Then do the same with 34.
  • Play 34 as long string notes into a tuner too.
  • Play the phrase from 35 an octave lower to help bar 38.
  • Practice bar 38’s first 3 notes a octave lower, then at pitch, and alternate a few times.
  • Watch your tuning in this final section (35-end). If you ever feel like your having a bit of an off day, just play a slow, careful 1 octave D major scale in 1st position with the tuner to settle everything.
  • Aim for a smooth bow 51-52.
  • Practice your shifting in bar 56 – D F# (ghost note) B A.
  • Careful to keep the tempo steady.

Mon 23rd Nov 2020

Scales

  • Practice all your scales with slurs a bit more this week. For the chromatics, think of the phrase “higgledy piggledy” to help with slurring.
  • B flat chromatic – check your tuning on the G and E strings with a tuner.
  • Here’s B flat major in 6ths.

Ladies in Lavender

  • Leave enough bow to complete the slur in bar 4 into the start of bar 5.
  • Be really aware of the tuning on the first page.
  • Practice bar 33 in overlapping blocks of 6.
  • Practice your leaps from the first note of bar 33 to the next note, and likewise bar 34.
  • Try to memorise the trickiest bits, ie. these two bars.
  • Add a bit of squeeze from your index finger on the bow to help keep the scrubbing in bar 34 strong. Gradually lengthen the bow as you slow down, to help you get to the heel for the start of 35.
  • From 35, careful with the tuning of the D. Practice the first phrase here down an octave to familiarise yourself with the melody.
  • Practice sliding your fingers all the way up the fingerboard, sliding the thumb around under the top lip of the violin body.

Mon 16th Nov 2020

Scales

  • Practice diminished 7ths with your eyes shut for tuning.
  • When embarking on a dim or dom 7th, make sure you’ve got a definite major/minor 3rd to start.
  • Dominant 7th in F is in 2nd position. Maybe write this on your scales list? The last two notes are in 1st position, so just reach back a semitone with your 1st finger.
  • Show some love to your dominant 7ths this week! 😄
  • I’ll post up the fingering for B flat major here a bit later.

Ladies in Lavender

  • Tune the first two notes and check left thumb is comfy.
  • If you’re having an off day with settling the tuning, play a slow 2 8ve D major scale in 3rd position.
  • Check last week’s notes for practice techniques for the top two lines of the second page.
  • Practice the second half of 34 slowly with separate notes. Remember it is an arpeggio and a dominant 7th.
  • From 35, keep your bow confident.
  • Careful of tuning in 37.
  • Practice bars 37 and 38 by replacing the D in 38 with a G til you think you’ve got the top A in your head.At bar 41, try to return to the calm feeling you had at the start.
  • Plan your bow distribution to get the right tone bars 50-53.
  • Practice b. 56 with the ghost note, which you’ll shift to with your 1st finger.

Mon 9th Nov 2020

Scales

  • Practice your C diminished 7th slowly with long strong bows and plan where the next note will be whilst playing the previous one.
  • Chromatics – listen for the intonation of the 1st finger shift.
  • Play them at a flowing speed to keep track of where the tonics are and see if you can find a way of sustaining the key note whilst you play, either on the piano or on your phone. You could even hum it!
  • The fingering for B flat chrom is 2234 on the G string.
  • The fingering for C chrom is 34 on the G string and 12121234 on the E string.

Ladies in Lavender

  • The first page is sounding great! To make it even better:
    • flow right from the beginning
    • focus on the singing tone and smoothness of line
    • careful of the tuning in bars 16-19
    • count carefully on the last line of the page.
  • Practice the shift in bar 32 by playing A(2) E(0) then A(2) E(1)
  • From 30, let the quavers lead into the long notes without hesitation.
  • Practice the first 2 notes of 33 a few times to get the G# in your head.
  • Build up the scale from the G# one note at a time each practice. Remember:
    • Keep good bow contact with the string;
    • No sketching!
    • Don’t move onto the next note til you know you are hesitation free and solid with your intonation;
    • Start from scratch each practice.
  • Once you’ve built the whole scale, focus on the first of each half beat as rhythmic landmarks.

Mon 2nd Nov 2020

Scales

  • Diminished 7ths – Focus on just two octaves of G. In both G and B flat, careful of the D flat on the A string. Always keep the tone and a half gap in mind. In the C diminished 7th especially, think about how each string’s fingers can help you find those on the next string.
  • Dominant 7ths – Watch the tuning of the sevenths. In E flat, left elbow swing to help with 4th finger tuning. Finish the last two notes of the one in F in 1st position.
  • Chromatic scales – a little faster to help them flow. When playing separate bows, keep the bows small and bow changes smooth.

Ladies in Lavender

  • Focus on the dolce sound quality – not too much bow, closer to the finger board and imagine the sound you’d like from your vibrato.
  • Check the metronome mark and aim for this on the first page – it can flow a bit more now that you’ve got to grip with the rhythms.
  • Lead with the bow (so don’t let shifts and string crossings disturb the smooth lines).

Mon 19th Oct 2020

Scales

  • In Dominant 7ths, think about which fingers are opposite over the string and which are a semitone down/up.
  • Think about your top note so as to play whether scales start in 1st position or not.
  • Work on tuning carefully in Diminished 7th on G, then use that work to transfer directly onto the one on B flat, as they share most of the same notes!
  • In your chromatics, careful not to squeeze your fingers too close together.

Sicilienne

  • Aim to keep a consistent quaver pulse. I think the whole thing could be a bit faster.
  • Find a rubber and get rid of the slide line you wrote on the first note of bar 16!
  • Practice problem bars by adding a note at a time and only move onto the next note when you’re feeling completely comfortable. Keeping the rhythm secure in this exercise is particularly important, especially when string crossings happen, and at bar lines.

Mon 12th Oct 2020

Scales

  • For G Major, play up to the top and then spend a little while going down and up just the top octave before descending all the way.
  • When your new book arrives, start looking at the Grade 6 scales listed inside the cover.

Sicilienne

  • Smooth bowing, especially when changing at the heel.
  • Focus on tuning, perhaps with a 4th position 2 octave E flat major scale warm-up.
  • Think a bit more about dynamics.
  • Relax the dotted rhythm figure.

Eliza Aria

  • Set up your tuner to check Cs, perhaps by pausing on one every two bars. Be especially careful if they are coming from a 4th finger E (they tend to be in tune if you’re coming from open A).
  • At the start, staccato quavers but wall-to-wall sound on the crotchets, avoiding leaning on them too much though.

Mon 5th Oct 2020

Fiocco

  • Try for even more concise movements in string crossings – just nod your hand, rather than committing the whole elbow, as you would if you were only visiting the next string for one note.
  • Count carefully when you have crotchets, e.g. from line 5 in the 3rd bar (make sure you feel the 3rd beat) and from the last bar of the page (make sure you feel the 1st beat).
  • Keep checking to make sure your tuning is low enough.
  • To warm up your bow arm for the middle section, pick a note (E maybe?) and play two semiquavers and a quaver several times, thinking “Flora Moys” as you play it.

Sicilienne

Watch to this video to get used to the lilting feeling before you practice this piece.

  • The main rhythmic fix is playing the last quaver in the bar a little longer.

Mon 28th Sep 2020

Scales

  • Practice slowly for tuning, then check 80 with the metronome. Always try to imagine the sound of the next note to help with tuning, especially when practicing the diminished 7th slowly.

Andaluza

  • Your last week on this! Check over last week’s comments again as I think I managed to explain some of them more clearly this week!
  • In the opening melody, flow more in the slurred semiquavers and sit on the longer notes a bit more as a way to catch your breath!
  • In places like b.5 and b.53, closer to the heel, more punchy and try not to take the bow off the string.

You could start looking at B3

Fiocco

  • A bit lower in the bow.
  • Try to use small, concise bows and minimise movement on string crossings.
  • Use open strings to check tuning – things were heading a bit sharp at times.
  • Try to incorporate the dynamics – the earlier we add them to a piece, the more integral they feel.
  • Practice tricky passages in dotted rhythms.

Mon 21st Sep 2020

Scales

  • Grade 5 suggested scale speed is crotchet=80. Add G minors too – in melodic, map out your first octave’s finger placement before you start (esp. E and F#!).
  • Dim 7th – try to keep the whole thing at the same speed.

Andaluza

  • E minor warm-up – use a tuner to check the top 3 notes of the scale.
  • Remember that working with a metronome should help you feel more in control, not less! So if you are panicking, try a slower speed.
  • For the first page, play the metronome before you start and really listen to it, imagining the melody and internalising the beat. You can then turn it off.
  • From bar 20, feel the heaviness of the crotchets to help you hold them long enough.
  • Practice the Andantino section with the metronome. Place the bow on the string and count along with the metronome before you start – there’s no hurry, so start when you’re completely ready.
  • Careful of the G#s at the end of 44 and 45.

Fiocco

  • Warm up with a 2 octave G Major arpeggio.
  • Listen carefully for the tuning of your 1st and 2nd fingers.
  • In the middle section (the bit after the coda sign), start by practising it without the mordents. Then play it slowly with the mordents, trying not to let them disturb the rhythm of the semiquavers.

Mon 14th Sep 2020

Scales

  • Practice the shifts before you play the scales as a pre-warm-up, esp. in G major;
  • In E minor, when in 4th position, check tuning of 1st fingers with open strings;
  • G dim 7 – Start with 2 8ves to get the notes in your head. Then when shifting, imagine the notes before you play them. Playing it slowly will help give you time for this whilst keeping things rhythmic.

Andaluza

  • Practice this for tuning, plus 1 8ve higher:
  • Practice with a metronome. You’ll notice your semiquavers can relax a little but that long notes need counting carefully so as not to become too long!

Mon 7th Sep 2020

G Major scale – left elbow swing to help with 4th finger tuning on the way down.

Add G diminished 7th to your scale practice. Maybe start with one octave on your first day, then add the second octave when that’s solid, then the third.

Andaluza

  • Two semiquavers at the start of a bar (e.g. b. 5 and 8) should lead into the next note.
  • Remember to keep counting! This will help you hold long notes for long enough (e.g. bar 9) and help with the rhythm from bar 20.
  • Playing the semiquavers at the end of page 1 slower will calm down the pulse ready for the Andantino section.
  • Practice from b.32 carefully to centre the tuning – think more about the spacing between notes in places of uncertainty.
  • From b.4, observe the dynamics well but careful not to slow down too soon. Don’t forget the a tempo in the 1st time bar.

I’ll send you Fiocco’s Allegro now!

Wed 19th Jul 2017

Your first lesson with me! 😄🎻

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