Welcome to your online lesson notes page Laura!
Grade 4 MTB Scales and technical exercises
Mon 20th Sep 2021
- Keep working on this in the same way as last week.
Put the piano parts in your bag for next lesson please!
- Keep up the good work on the dynamics!
- Listen on any string changes to see how smooth the melody sounds.
- In the p section, have a feeling of worried panic – remember your dressing gown story!
- Try to tilt your bow away from you (a bow hold tweak will help). Also try to keep in the lower half of the bow.
Mon 13th Sep 2021
- Record yourself doing a Grade 1 piece and listen back to it (looking at the music!) then see if you can improve it.
- Record yourself doing a grade 2 piece and see if you can improve that too.
- Record yourself playing this and all your pieces.
- Remember to stand up properly when you’re playing!
- Watch out for the tuning of your 1st finger in the 1st section.
Tue 20th July 2021
Play all your Grade 4 pieces and decide if you’re still excited about them, or if you feel you need to pick any new ones so they feel fresh!
- Make sure the 5 quavers are all the same length in bars 2 and 10.
- Make sure the A in bar 5 is late enough too.
- Watch out for any other bars starting with a dotted crotchets too.
- Keep a good eye out for quaver rests.
- Play D minor harmonic minor up to A on the E string really carefully, aiming for no wiggly fingers.
- Short staccatos in 7 and 8 and everywhere else this happens (practice these few bars a few times on their own til it feels like you’ll remember it).
- Listen out for the tuning of your F naturals.
- Careful of your C naturals from 25.
Find/make some grade 4 scale pots. Take as much care over these as your pieces. This means no wiggly fingers!
Tue 6th July 2021
- Practice from bar 29 mainly this week. Finish each practice with a run-through.
- If this has gone well in your practice, add the icing to the top of the cake – posture and bow hold!
- Pay particular attention to bow hold and get a volunteer to tell you if your bow is straight. If your little finger feels tense, rest your bow on the strings and tap it til it feels relaxed but secure.
Tue 29th June 2021
- Violin up and bow straight (checking in a mirror) for all of these.
- Aim for good sound quality, particularly as you’re changing string.
- The rhythmic version is easier faster.
- Sing your starting notes to get your ear nice and awake before you start each scale.
- Keep a practice diary this week. Which piece and what’s your aim?
Tue 22nd June 2021
- Ex.1 – notice the the patterns so you don’t ever have to pause and the notes are always correct.
- Ex. 2 – record yourself and improvise an accompaniment based on the notes of the arpeggio you’re playing in each bar.
- Ex. 3 – Keep your fingers down for each bar. How smooth can you get the start of the chord at the end.
- Aim for a strong, clear sound throughout.
- 1st fingers are all low – keep your finger there!
- Make as beautiful a sound as you can.
- Work on getting more familiar with the notes from bar 37 to the end.
Mon 14th June 2021
- Be much more careful finding your starting notes accurately.
- 3 things to aim for on every scale: intonation, attention to detail (slurs, rhythms etc.) and tempo (check the metronome mark).
- In the B major scale with rhythms, make sure you’re splitting the beat into 4 in your head.
- No C#s in your Dominant 7th!
- In the chromatic scale, try to move your fingers quickly (like a light switch)r ather than being too slidy. Write in any fingerings you might need!
Mon 7th June 2021
- Ex. 1 – Work on making the best sound you can. Sometimes practice this with dotted crotchets instead. Keep the bow flowing consiently and smoothly, making just as nice a sound at the very ends of the bows. Another way to practice this is to see if you can play each bar separately at speed.
- Ex. 2 – try to get all your spiccato notes as good as the best ones. Hold the last note to the end of the 4th beat.
- Ex. 3 – try not to land on D string too heavily each time – preparing your right elbow ahead of time will really help with this.
- Be strict about all the pencil markings.
- Make sure the listener knows it’s minor!
YouTube homework: Elena Urioste.
Mon 24th May 2021
Make sure you practice Rondeau at least once a week, being very strict about F naturals and B flats!
- To warm up. practice the first 5 notes on every string and aim for 10/10.
- Do a little retake in every quaver rest on on the first 2 lines – you can practice these with some little up bow circles near the heel. Can you make the start of each note smooth?
- Make sure your ears are turned on all the time as this piece needs a really lovely sound quality.
- Practice the shift in bar 19 very carefully, remembering George and his cup-filling!
- Start thinking about where you might add some vibrato.
YouTube homework: find a video of Hilary Hahn. Give me some comments next time about her playing and her posture.
Mon 17th May 2021
- Warm up with G major, getting those low 2s warmed up for th A and E strings.
- Careful of the rhythm in bars 6, 14, 16 and 18. Use a metronome to help you, and maybe do some clapping to help prepare.
- Practice 11 for the high B.
- Don’t forget to think about the ghost finger with your 1st finger in 19.
- Try from 21 quite slowly a few times til you’re really sure of the notes. Let your bow soar on the 4th fingers.
- Aim for real contact with the string from 29.
- Get to know the rest of the piece, being as careful as you can on rhythms and tuning – learning it well first time is always the best way!
Mon 10th May 2021
- Remember to play your hardest scales (rated 3) EVERY practice.
- For F melodic minor, find the F, then find the B flat with your 1st finger. Bring your left thumb up to meet the body of the violin.
- Do a harmonic warm-up (see bar 5). Try not to reach for your harmonics, and try each one again if you don’t hit it right the first time.
- Be stricter with your rhythm.
- Practice getting your 3rd and 2nd fingers on the string in your first quaver rest so your F# is ready and the rhythm is completely up to your bow.
- Practice bars 19 and 20, and 35 quite a bit for the shifts (don’t forget the ghost note!).
- Notice from 29 when your slurs are split and when they are smooth.
- Go onto bar 36.
Mon 3rd May 2021
Allegro ma non Presto
- Work really carefully on getting comfortable at the slow speed. Spend a few bars listening to the metronome and imagining the speed of your semiquavers before you start playing.
- Pick bits out to troubleshoot if you know they are slowing you down (or the opposite!).
- Think about the neatness of your rests.
- Work on getting the rhythm really obvious in 13, 15 and 17.
Mon 26th Apr 2021
- Violin up nice and high to help get the harmonics.
- Keep the harmonics nice and light – they will ring after you’ve taken your bow off.
- Practice doing a retake in your quaver rests in bars 5 and 7.
- Listen to your sound quality after those rests: if it’s a bit crunchy, just practice up bow circles on that note.
- Careful of the bowing from 8-12. Try to get it right 3 times in a row each practice.
Allegro ma non presto
- This week, split the piece into sections and work with the metronome, practising all the “B” material first. Don’t move up to the next speed til you’re comfortable and accurate at the speed both on the day and at the start of the next practice session.
Mon 19th Apr 2021
Keep checking your posture this week – weight equally on both feet and elbow off your hip.
- Give each scale a rating, 1-3. Make sure you practice the 3s every practice, plus two 2s and one 1.
- Use your 4th finger for the harmonics.
- Do a teardrop-shaped retake after your first 3 harmonics.
- Aim for a nice flowing feeling.
- Just work up to bar 20.
Allegro ma non presto
- Make sure you settle really well in bar 20, counting 3 beats before starting the next bar.
- Listen to the sound quality at the start of each note – sometimes it’s a bit harsh. Can you make it bright and light?
- At 24 and 25, keep track of the crotchet pulse to keep you moving through, but also make sure you’ve got a high 3 on the D string and low 3s on the A and E string.
- Learn the rest of the piece.
Mon 29th Mar 2021
Allegro ma non presto
- Careful with your rhythm in bar 4.
- 5-12 is really improving! Make sure your Gs are #.
- Work on light quavers from 13, and set your metronome to crotchet = 60. This will actually be a great speed to practice the whole of this first section at!
- Look at the rest of the piece. Remember the bouncy quavers everywhere!
- Make sure your first 4 notes are swinging the right way! Think “Laura Laura”.
- How clear can you get the B and D either side of the grace notes in bar 5?
- On the last note, let the note die away, towards the fingerboard with your bow.
Keep practising the technical exercises this Easter. Start looking at Valse Lente on p. 12.
Mon 22nd Mar 2021
Allegro ma non presto
- Great metronome work on 13-20!
- Keep all your quavers light, even if they’re not staccato.
- Practice 5-8 with the metronome, starting at 90, first with just a semiquaver and dotted quaver, then add the G#s. Keep your right shoulder down – quick down bows, slow up bows. Make sure you’re only doing 3 beats per bar!
- Try 9-12 one bar at a time with the metronome.
Mon 15th Mar 2021
- Learn the fingering for the chromatic scale. Keep it slow, but when it’s confident, add the slurs.
Allegro ma non Presto
- ALWAYS think about your key signature before you start.
- On line 1, try not to hesitate on the bar lines.
- Practice 13-20 with a metronome, starting at quaver=90. Be super careful about your 2nd and 3rd finger tuning. Ask someone to listen and see if you’re with it before you increase the speed.
- Work on your swung quavers, especially if a string crossing is involved.
- From 13, super low 2nd fingers and nice and clean on your quaver rests.
- At the end, die away to nothing, including your vibrato.
Mon 8th Mar 2021
- Practice your F minor scale very carefully. Get the first 3 notes in tune and sounding neat with the bow before you try the whole thing.
Allegro ma non Presto
- Add some bounce to your quavers.
- Practice bars 1-4, then bars 13-20, then do some troubleshooting practice on bars 5-12.
- From bar 5, each bar should start on a down bow. Try to keep the semiquavers even, despite the slurs, no matter what speed your’re practising it at.
- Practice 5-8 as quavers without the G#s. Then change the rhythm to a semiquaver and a dotted quaver. Next, do the same whilst making sure your 1st finger is resting right behind the 2nd finger. In all these exercises, aim for the best sound quality and tuning possible. Ideally all these exercises should be played at the same speed you’re playing bars 1-4.
- The try 5-12 under tempo and only speed it up if you’re feeling confident.
- Think about how tidy this is as you play through it.
- Work in sections tidying it up – section A then C, then B then D.
- At the start, make sure your 2nd finger is in the right place before you start.
Mon 1st Mar 2021
- Learn them! Ask for my help on any you need to next lesson.
- This sounded so much better once we started thinking more about the beat.
- I loved seeing you start to use the piano part to help you play in time. Any time you play withe piano now, try to work with the pianist. You’re on the same team after all!
Allegro ma non presto
- Clap the first line a few times before you start playing.
- Play an A Major scale as a warm-up.
- Keep the quavers light.
- Try to get up to the double bar.
Keep practising Take Five, and try really hard with your posture this week.
Mon 24th Feb 2021
- In the rhythmic exercise, remember the piccadilly rhythm and hold your last note for two full beats. Try it in second position.
- In E Major, work on getting the first fingers really in tune. Maybe even play the E and A before you start. This applies to F minor too – think of Heigh Ho!
- Try practising your scales with your eyes closed to listen really carefully for tuning and sound quality.
- Lighter quavers.
- Try to land a bit lighter on the double stops.
- Practice with the piano part to perform next week.
- Make sure you start up bow.
- Be a bit more precise with your grace notes.
- Keep the chromatic quaver passages relaxed.
- Troubleshooot any untidy bars by just working on that bar.
- Memorise as much of it as you can.
Mon 8th Feb 2021
- Keep your violin up nice and high as you practice these.
- When playing with the track, be ready to play before you press play.
- Be your own teacher as you practice and think of ways to improve.
- Try to cover all your scales at least every two practises.
- Aim for neater landings on retakes and lighter quavers.
- Always be listening for neatness in tuning and rhythm.
- Practice this in as much detail as we did in the lesson and aim for a performance for me at the start of next lesson. Maybe your descendants piece too?
Keep practising Take 5, also in this much detail!
Mon 1st Feb 2021
- Practice the scales alone, then with the backing tracks, focusing on tuning and slurs.
- In the dotted rhythm exercise, careful you’re tight enough with your semiquavers. Try it in 2nd position.
- Check last week’s notes for these.
- As this piece is more familiar now, use it as a chance to work on your bow hold. Set it very deliberately before you start, maybe even doing some pinkie push-ups.
- Take care of crotchets with a quaver rest afterwards – they should be finished off neatly.
- Start to introduce more lightness to your quavers.
- You’ve got the style of this piece really well!
- Make the crotchet before the grace notes a bit longer, eg. bar 5. How precise can your string crossing be there?
- Practice any chromatic sections a bit more and at a steadier speed so they’re really secure. It’s actually getting the tones big enough that will really help here!
- From 26, aim for the crotchets so your last semiquaver isn’t too long.
Mon 25th Jan 2021
- Get used to the slurs.
- I’ll record a track.
- B major rhythm exercise – longer dotted quavers, smaller gaps.
- E major is in 4th position. Careful of the tuning of your 4th note in particular (it’s like We Wish You a Merry Christmas).
- F minor – careful of the tiny angle between strings.
- Chromatic scale – light up bows so they don’t stick out. Try 0112234 on GDA strings and 0123 on E. Try with your old fingering too and pick the best.
Technical exercise 1
- Lighter bow – let the vibrations be free!
- Don’t start til you’re sure of your first note’s tuning.
- Careful to keep at 6 notes per bow!
Technical exercise 3
- Higher F#.
- Can the crossings back to the lower string be just as smooth?
- Practice the last bar and a half to get no hesitation.
Mon 18th Jan 2021
- Ex 1: Much better with the fingers this week! Now try 6 notes per bow, really letting it flow, especially on the bow changes. Aim for olympic swimmer bowing – this requires looking ahead so your fingers know what’s coming! Set metronome for 50.
- Ex 2: Great start! Listen to make sure it’s as neat as possible.
- Ex 3: No slurs, and with C natural. Middle of the bow. Why not put a bit of string on the middle of the bow as a marker as you get used to it?
- Practice the section from 23 the most, with a metronome to make sure you’re not skipping ahead anywhere.
- Practice bar 23 (minus the last note) on a loop at a speed you can rely on for tuning, then speed it up when the tuningis secure.
- Careful of the dotted crotchet in 27.
- Playing from 19, make sure the start of 23 sounds confident.
Mon 11th Jan 2021
- Ex. 1: Practice 6 notes per bow for now, planning how much bow to use on each note and letting the bow flow freely.
- Remember to honour accidentals for the whole bar.
- Ask someone to play along on the piano until your tuning is more reliable.
- Work out the hand shapes of each bar and trust them instead of what you think you should hear.
- For exercise 2, practice the second half of each bar first, curving your pinkie, relaxing your shoulder and raising your elbow slightly to help the off-the-tring bowing.
- Exercise 3: make sure you follow all 3 instructions.
- Read last week’s notes.
- Careful of your 1st finger tuning in the section from bar 12.
- Use more bow at the start of 24 to help with the two ups after.
Check previous weeks for practice tips for Take Five.
Mon 4th Jan 2021
- Print off the MTB exercises and scales (see links above).
- Always play a relevant scale to warm up for each piece.
- Think about posture and bow hold at all times.
- Watch out for slurs and bowing in general.
- Keep double stops strong for the whole note.
- Keep the semiquavers flowing in 21.
- Practice the first two notes of bar 23 on their own, then bar 22 plus one note. For each exercise, play it 3 times right in a row before putting it back into context. Do these exercises EVERY prcatice session til it’s bullet-proof.
Mon 14th Dec 2020
- Count the beats in bar 1 really carefully.
- You’re playing this with really good style!
- Try not to hesitate in the semiquavers, especially when changing string for a C on the G string.
- See how you get on with the whole piece!
- Start in the middle of the bow with an up bow.
- Clean string crossings at the start.
- Aim for a longer B before the grace notes, and no slidy fingers! Remember it’s like a chromatic scale.
- Practice from 14 with a metronome at about crotchet = 80 til it feels easy, then speed it up a bit.
- Can you disappear to nothing on the last note?
- Check the top of this page for links to the MTB technical exercises.
Mon 7th Dec 2020
- Remember there are three things to focus on: intonation, sound quality and fluency.
- Aim to find your starting notes silently.
- Google what a Hurdy Gurdy is.
- Add the accents at the beginning and in bar 6.
- Practice up to bar 11.
- Remember to start with an up bow.
- No need to clap the rhythms anymore, but approach the music with as much care as you would if you were clapping.
- Carry on and see how far you can get!
Pick some Christmas tunes to do next lesson and send me a copy (unless they’re in Fiddle Time Christmas, as I have that book here).
Mon 30th Nov 2020
- Start EVERY practice with at least 3 scales from your pots. Try to get into the habit of doing this so it’s second nature.
- If you practice this at all, work on cleaning up the last section, from the upbeat to bar 23. Otherwise, well done!
- Work on getting your rhythms really strong, both by clapping and playing, but think just as carefully about them when you’re playing!
- Try to get the balance between waiting on crotchets and hitting the ground running on semiquavers.
Don’t forget to always ask if you don’t understand something!
Mon 23rd Nov 2020
Rhythm challenge: Which of these two pieces is in 7/8? And what time signature do you think the other is in?
O Come, All Ye Faithful
- Start up bow and don’t forget the retake after the rest on the 2nd line.
- Great dynamics!
- Practice repeating the whole thing, going back to the 2nd violin part.
- Practice with this guide track. It has 3 full bars of metronome at the start, plus 3 beats. Use headphones and have one ear in.
- As neat as you can in bar 10, finishing the last phrase and then starting the next one cleanly.
- Practice bar 13 for the bowing (it starts with a down bow).
- From 17, longer bows to connect the crotchets in a flowing line.
- Practice bars 29 and 30 the most – the quavers need to be quite fast and definitely neat.
- Practice the last line, thinking about the semitone between 3rd and 4th fingers on both strings.
Mon 16th Nov 2020
To improve your rhythm, read last week’s notes on how to do the post-it note challenge.
- Aim for good sound quality throughout – your first full bar sounded great when you started today, so try to match that.
- Flow from one line to another.
- If bar 9 feels like hard work, practice it like we did in the lesson, getting rid of the semiquavers at first and then adding them back in, keeping your bow just as relaxed and flowing.
- Longer bow stroke for crotchets at 11 and 12. Making each crotchet progressively longer will help achieve the crescendo really well.
- How tidy can you make bars 15-20?
- How beautiful can you make the last line?
Practice O Come, All Ye Faithful. Think how you want your posture to look on video!
Mon 9th Nov 2020
Read last week’s notes if you haven’t already.
Sound quality – I think you can fix 90% of this by curving your little finger and thumb. Take a moment before everything you play to rest the bow on the string and tap your little finger. Check the thumb each time too, and make sure your right shoulder doesn’t shrug.
- For vibrato, make sure violin is secure on your shoulder and keep your thumb gently resting on the neck.
- Don’t always start from the beginning – practice the secion from bar 24-41 more than the rest. Get someone to listen, following along with the piano part, to give you a score out of 10 for your rhythm.
- Use post-it notes so Mum, Dad or Matthew can set you a rhythm challenge each day. Find 10 post-it notes:
- One one, write a 4/4 time signature
- On three of them, write one crotchet rest
- On three of them, write one crotchet
- On three of them, write a pair of quavers.
- For the rhythm challenge, clap a few bars of 4 crotchets, then when you know you’re feeling the steady beat, change to clapping the rhythm they have set you.
- Then practice the piece, remembering the up bow start, curved little finger and to count yourself in.
- Watch these videos whilst following your music through and let me know what you thought next lesson:
Mon 2nd Nov 2020
LISTENING – we had a good chat about how to achieve your full potential today: imagining the sound you want to make and listening to see if you have achieved this. Don’t let yourself get awau with less than your best!
Listen carefully in everything you do in your practice, from now until… well, forever!!!
Scales – make sure you always warm up with at least 3 scales from your scale pots.
- Remember this is a grade 3 piece – how can you get 30/30?
- In the rustic sections, see if you can up your speed even more using a metronome.
- In the cantabile sections, imagine the soft sound you want to hear. Light bow, fingerboard and a bit of relaxed vibrato (careful not to press in your left hand).
Mon 19th Oct 2020
- Try to get through them all over the next 2 weeks and let me know which ones you need help on.
- We were working at minim = 70. When you’re happy with that, go up to 90, then 100, then 112.
- Don’t forget the marcato bowing!
- At 12 go into daydream mode – a sweet sound and whispy bow.
Air de Ballet
- Make the dynamics super obvious.
- Can you make the repeated down bows have poise like a ballet dancer?
- Stop to think about the F naturals and C naturals before you start playing.
- I’d love to hear a performance of this next lesson!
I’d love to mark some theory papers for you soon too!
Mon 12th Oct 2020
- To warm up, play C Major scale, arpeggio and Dominant 7th (what note does it start on?).
- Try it at minim=50 for a few practises, then try it a bit faster.
- Hold your up bow semibreves for their full length with no gap before the next note.
- Practice the section at bar 24 for bow co-ordination.
Mon 5th Oct 2020
- Same as last week – so read last week’s notes carefully!
- Keep your thumb relaxed but secure and try to keep your violin stable so you can bow smoothly.
Air de Ballet
- Try with a metronome so that each 4 bar phrase is the same speed.
- If anything is a bit messy, stop to neaten it up – you know how!
- Listen for the sound quality at the start of each repeated down bow note – can it be smoother, like your bow is travelling in one big circle?
Have a look at Joshi’s Dance if you like, but make sure you observe all the details!
Mon 28th Sep 2020
To really get the most out of practice, have these notes to hand for reference – if Laura can bookmark them on her device that would be great!
- Keep going through the vibrato book – I’d love to hear a report at the start of next lesson telling me what you’ve worked on from it this week!
- Memorise the vibrato scale (see last week) and practice it slowly – maybe even with a metronome – at about crotchet=60.
Air de Ballet
- Play C major scale as a warm-up to help get your ear used to F and C naturals.
- Practice the first line just for F and C naturals – trust your finger placing more than your ear!
- Always stand up straight and use your bow with care – control placing the bow on the string and the timing of your string crossings (practice this on the very first note of the piece, and on bars 5-8).
- Read through the piece without your violin to spot the dynamics, then play through aiming to make them really obvious.
- Practice with a metronome a few times: are you playing each section the same speed?
Mon 21st Sep 2020
- Start with a high violin, then slide the hand up and down the fingerboard by closing and opening the elbow. Then make the movement progressively smaller until you land in 1st position.
- Use a slow, full bow.
- Start with a relaxed left hand and aim for a constant light vibrato.
- Here are two vibrato champions – watch their left hands!
- Keep an eye on how straight your bow is – this will help with the next point:
- How clean can you make it? Listen to the sound – is your bow crossing the strings cleanly and is your tuning pure (yes, it IS important!! The head of strings at my music college once told us tuning is the one thing you can’t get away with in an audition! If you’re out of tune, you’ve lost the job straight away!)
- Take a quiet moment to look through the piece for dynamics. Play it through once each practice JUST for dynamics.
Air de Ballet
Start looking at this, but read the lightbulb at the bottom of the page first!
Mon 14th Sep 2020
- I have written which position to play Cs and Es in on the list above.
- Think in halves of octaves to help with thinking ahead.
- Close eyes to concentrate if you need to.
- Revise what you had done before and keep going!
Down By the Riverside
- Press play on this track and follow the music through to see where we have rhythms together:
- Get ready to play – little finger curved, violin up, first notes ready – then press play. Remember the staccatos!
- Check last week’s notes to see if you can improve any of those points even more.
- Check last week’s notes.
- Try to start your first note smoothly, in the mood of the piece.
- Practice bars 7-10 for tuning and rhythm.
- Practice 19-38 for bowing. Maybe try to memorise the bowing?
Mon 7th Sep 2020
Before you start:
- Violin up nice and high, so your left elbow can swing freely.
- Play EFA so your first 3 notes are ready.
- Don’t forget it starts on a down bow!
- Slow crotchets in bars 8 and 44.
- F naturals from bar 16.
- Spend a few minutes working on the bowing (especially slurs) between 29 and 38.
- B flats from bar 50
Down by the Riverside
- Don’t forget the rests!
- Full length minims in 17, 25 and 33.
- In 18, 26 and 34 – make sure the crotchets are on beats 3 and 4.
- Practice 20-23 for the top notes in 21 and 23.
- Play along with this track if you’d like to play it as a violin duet with me!
Wed 4th Mar 2015
Your first violin lesson! 😄🎻