Imogen

Welcome to your lesson notes page Imogen!

Mon 4th Apr 2022

Leclair

  • Start by playing from 31, as the 2nd half isn’t sounding as secure yet.
  • Your metronome mark is currently 75, so work on speeding this up gradually.
  • Aim for a really strong f at the start.
  • Remember to play all quavers as if they are soft staccato.
  • Practice all trills without the twiddles to make sure the foundation note is in tune.
  • Work on the tuning in 27-28.
  • Keep your dotted rhythms super tight, whilst keeping the slurs smooth.

Chanson Triste

  • Play the first bar with closed eyes to hear if all the notes are equal in length and weight.
  • Keep the bow changes soft-edged in all bars except the hooked crotchet bars.
  • Flow over the shift at 23, changing bow as smoothly as you do in bar 22.
  • Practice tuning at 25.
  • Kick the bow (go over the top!) on the accents at 40 and 41, making the next notes softer. Then work on integrating the shift at 42, changing the tone colour on that note too.
  • Take care of the tuning of last bar.
  • Channel the vibrato of the last bar in the rest of the piece.

Bamboo Stem

  • Careful of the rhythm of bars 8, 21, 24, 38.
  • Great tempo!
  • Can the harmonic be clearer in 19?
  • Start with bar 29 to get this last section just as confident as the first.

Mon 4th Apr 2022

Here are the videos I promised!

Scales

  • Come to each lesson with a list of any scales you need help with.
  • In A Major, start by sliding the hand all the way up to the end of the fingerboard (you’ll find this exercise in the “with Nicky” video, about 3/4 of the way through). Pratice the top octave up and down the most.
  • Start F major in 5th position, making ure your thumb is opposite your 1st finger before you start playing. Check the tuning of your 1st fingers on each new string.

Chanson Triste

  • From 45, always be thinking about the tones and semitones. Practice this phrase in tandem with the first section.
  • Do some ghost note practice in bar 42.
  • Keep your vibrato constant. Imagine the sound you want to hear before you start playing.

Fri 25th Mar 2022

Bamboo Stem

  • Careful the B in bar 2 isn’t louder than the rest of the notes.
  • 5 neat bow.
  • In bar 8, make the E a full quaver with its own down bow. In 7 and 8, put the grace notes on the beat rather than stealing from the previous notes. Bar 22 is exactly the same.
  • Aim for around 80 in the “little faster” section.
  • Let yourself rests on crotchets, for example the end of 15.
  • In 19, make sure you’re shifting your whole hand for the 3rd finger, so your 1st finger ends up in the right place without any extra sliding.
  • Make sure the open E at the end of 19 is super short.
  • Rhythm bar 21 – nice and slow on the 3rd beat, and a nice long crotchet at the end of the bar.
  • Again, give me a nice long crotchet at the end of 23.
  • In 24, use an F sharp ghost note between the 2nd and and 3rd beats to help with the shift – don’t leave your 1st finger behind!
  • Be really strict on the rhythms on the first beats of 25 and 26.
  • Make sure all mordents are to F sharps (bars 15, 27 and 44).
  • Watch out for the dotted rhythm also in 28.
  • From 29, quavers are slwer than you think!
  • For the echo bar at 41, move your bow further over the fingerboard. Remember to move it bak again at 43!

Fri 18th Mar 2022

Leclair

  • Have the down bow feeling in your hand as you play the first note, and be lower in the bow.
  • Arpeggio-like quavers can be shorter, with a brushed-lettering kind of stroke.
  • Double check the tuning of the A# in bar 2.
  • In any bar like bar 3, try to make the slurs legato – your bow will basically be playing crotchets.
  • Practice 5 and 35, substituting your 1st finger with the 2nd.
  • Aim for bigger dynamic contrasts.
  • Spread the triplet at 29 a little more.
  • Practice 33 an 34 with ghost notes.
  • From 36, try to keep the slurs smooth and then aim for longer on the dotted crotchets.
  • At 57, notice the dynamics and slurs. This should be a really big contrast!
  • Work on the tuning in 62, and the rhythm of the high B.
  • Let the semiquavers in bar 64 act as a springboard back to the heel.

Fri 11th Mar 2022

Bamboo Stem

  • Listen to the videos further down this page before you practice the piece.
  • Watch out for pairs of quavers that need to be slower.
  • Aim for really accurate dotted rhythms.

Chanson triste

  • From 43, aim for a sweeter sound by playing at the edge of the fingerboard with a slightly tilted bow.
  • Practice the shift at 48 with the ghost note, as we did in your lesson. How many more shifts can you find that would benefit from this sort of practice?
  • Set up a tuner somewhere out of your eye-line so you can turn around and check your tuning every now and then.
  • Aim for stronger loud dynamics but using more right arm weight.

Remind me to start with Leclair next week, and maybe we’ll work on some of your grade scales too.

Fri 11th Feb 2022

Bamboo Stem

  • Test the speed with a metronome before you start start. Try to keep the dreamy feeling you had at the previous seed even though you’re faster now.
  • Watch out for holding crotchets long enough, starting in bars 1 and 2.
  • Experiment with the 5 points below to help you achieve the dynamics.
  • Keep an inner conductor going all the time!

The 5 ways to change dynamic:

  • Arm weight.
  • Bow speed.
  • Amount of bow.
  • Sounding point (near the bridge or over the fingerboard).
  • How much bow hair we use – tilt the bow stick away from you in quieter playing.

EDIT: Hi Imogen, I’ve been doing some research on this piece! If you read the info at the bottom of your music it mentions the two Chinese tunes the exam piece is made up of, so I did some YouTube searching and found a few versions of them.

The first has been arranged for string quartet, but by a Chinese composer and played by Chinese musicians, so I think this is a great resource for seeing how the traditional Chinese music can be adapted for Western instruments. It’s quite a bit faster than the speed you need to play it, but listening to it before you practice will help encourage your tempo up a little:

And then there’s this one – fantastic to hear on the original instruments! This will hopefully help the glissandos to make more sense for you. It starts with some slow improvisations from some of the musicians, but you can join in by playing from bar 29 of your music with the video at 2″40′.

And here are my suggestions for some different fingerings and bowings:

Fri 4th Feb 2022

Chanson Triste

  • It was great to hear some glimpses of vibrato in this! Great portato bowing too.
  • Keep your hand as relaxed as you can for this and try to keep the vibrato constant. Before you start, slide your hand up and down the fingerboard with really light fingers, then gradually localise the movement keeping that hand vibrato going as you move from finger to finger.
  • In 16 and 56, see if you can keep the crescendo going in the bow as you shift down to the E string.
  • Start noticing that 3rd position isn’t quite where our left hand rests on the body of the instrument – it is in fact 4th position. This should help with tuning.

Leclair

  • Play a slow B harmonic minor scale to warm up, possibly with a tuner to check notes every now and then.
  • Keep an eye out for low G naturals on the E string.
  • Set up a tuner behind you and turn around every few bars to check your tuning on the long notes.

Bamboo Stem

  • In 19, make sure no other fingers are on the string for the harmonic.
  • Be really strict on your rhythms for now – we can add the free feeling later. One place in particular was bars 5 and 6.
  • Work on the last section ready for us to look at together next lesson. Practice the A string section in 1st position to get used to the sound of the notes before then trying it in the higher positions.
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