Welcome to your online lesson notes page Laura!
Grade 4 MTB Scales and technical exercises
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! 😄🎻