Paula

Hi Paula, welcome to your online lesson notes page!

Grade 5 violin scales for you (remember not to slow down for the last few notes!):

Mon 18th Jan 2021

Scales

  • Flip a coin for each scale to decide whether to slur or play them separate bows.
  • G major – this was really steady until the very top – keep it really rhythmic all the way up.
  • A major – remember the E string goes 12 12 1234!
  • Arpeggios – try not to lengthen the penultimate note.
  • G major – only the first 3 notes in 1st position.
  • Finish dominant sevenths on the tonic.
  • In the diminshed sevenths, tuck your 1st finger behind your 2nd finger for the 4th note.
  • In the chromatics, check the tuning of the 1st fingers after you shift.

Bach P3 Giga

  • Remember to keep the single quavers light, rather than leaning into the next lot of semiquavers (eg. bars 8, 9 & 10).

Bach P3 Bourée

  • Warm up by playing the notes of the first two chords separately, but putting the fingers on as if they are chords. Do this for the start of the second half too. Have your left elbow in a place where you can reach all the notes.
  • Practice the bowing for bar 5 etc. on an open A. Short neat bows for the quavers and a free bow on the slur.

Mon 11th Jan 2021

Bach warm-up

  • Work on getting rid of the teeny tiny pause before your shift up in the scale.
  • Practice 4 or 5 notes either side of the shift, up and down several times. Keep a constant speed – either slower in general, or make your bow be in charge of keeping it constant.
  • In ex.2, make sure your string crossings under slurs are nice and clear. Aim for a carefree mood.
  • In the Bach, ain for ease in the semiquavers – you may be in danger of being too low in the bow!!
  • In places like bars 8 and 9, lighter on the single quaver.
  • Aim for the groups of 6 semiquavers to sound like sixes, not 3 pairs of notes. It may feel like you’re on a rollercaoster, but that’s OK!
  • Work on bar 19 in small chunks to get the tuning a bit more secure.
  • At 21 and 22, let the two halves of the bar have a conversation – they are two voices.

Elgar

  • Imagine the tone you’d like on your first note before you begin.
  • How smooth can you get the separate quavers just before A?
  • Careful of the rhythm in the dotted rhythms after A. (And after E).
  • Play A slowly and mp using the tuner to check tuning on shifts.
  • How smooth can you get your bow between the 2nd and 3rd bars of D?

Mon 4th Jan 2021

Scales

  • G Major – always think low with your shoulder to ensure a relaxed arm.
  • Practice 4 note slurs.
  • When slurring the arpeggio, try not to hesitate for bow changes.
  • Think about the finger patterns before you play the dominant 7th.
  • Stick to a consistent tempo throughout each scale.
  • G minor – a consistent speed, no matter how slow!
  • Look out for the B flats in the G minor arpeggio.
  • In E major, shift to 4th position on the second E. Try not to slow down for the shift – slow the whole scale down for now.

Bach Partita Giga

  • Don’t forget the warm-ups! Relax all the way from your right shoulder blade.
  • Take a break at the end of each section to make sure your bow arm is relaxed.
  • Aim for a lighter bow throughout, in the lower half.
  • From b.8, lighten the last note of each slur. Same thing in bars 17 & 18, 29 & 30.
  • The more reserved you are with your bowing, the easier it will be to speed it up.

Chanson de Nuit

  • Beautiful tone in the opening section!
  • Let the melody line lead you – sing it in your head so that technical hurdles like shifts don’t slow you down.
  • Make sure the tenuto quavers don’t end up a faster tempo than your long notes – wallow in them.
  • From A, give the dotted rhythms more definition: the melody has woken up here.
  • 2 before B, careful to have a nice big tone between the E flat and F.
  • How smooth can your bow be in the bar before C?
  • Have a look through each section before you play it to take note of the dynamics.
  • Aim for something really special in the pp at the end.

Mon 14th Dec 2020

Here’s the Snowman music – available from most online sheet music sellers though!

Ding Dong Merrily on High

  • Practice a scale with repeated notes and staccato bowing as a warm-up.
  • Try to take all articulation and bowings into account.

In the Bleak Midwinter

  • Enjoy the deep viola sound!

Mon 7th Dec 2020

Bach Partita 3 Giga

  • Keep working on your tuning of the middle E in your E major 2 8ve scale. Flow through the shift.
  • Ex. 1 – keep it in the lower half.
  • Ex. 2 – keep thinking horizontally with the bow and check tuning for the higher notes.
  • On the Bach, Know where the string crossings are to help clean it up a bit.
  • Use a lighter bow and don’t try too hard to get it off the string – the lightness should help it come off naturally.
  • 120 is a good choice of speed – no need to be faster for now. Enjoy the scenery!

Chanson de Nuit

  • Lovely tone!!
  • Careful of the tuning on higher sections.
  • Try to observe the upside-down down bow symbols!

Mon 30th Nov 2020

Bach Partita 3 Giga

  • E maj 2 octaves, shifting for the 2nd octave. Careful of tuning on the E just before shifting down.
  • Next, try some half-bow down bow circles to practice landing the bow on the string, as a warm-up for exercise 1.
  • In exercise 2, listen for the tuning – remember out E string eureka moment! The string is closer to us so we don’t have to space the fingers out so much.
  • Remember 3rd finger positions in the 3rd exercise.
  • Add the dancing 3rd finger exercises to your list of warm-ups – B D# B D repeated on the A string, then B D# F# A F# D# repeated on the A and E strings.
  • Follow this by practising bars 5-8 slowly (maybe with half-bar slurs) for tuning.
  • From the beginning, let all semiquavers flow from one bar to the next, especailly places like bars 1-2 and 25-26.
  • Play the first 7 notes of bar 15 to tune the F#.
  • At the start of bar 15 (and 2nd half equiv.), pretend you’re flinging a spider off your bow hand.
  • Check your tuning in bar 19.
  • Listen to a few recordings and decide on a metronome target you’d like to aim for. Then set a speed a bit slower to work with for now. Speed it up when you feel ready.
  • Start looking at the previous movement if you’d like! I haven’t written any warm-up exercises yet though…

Mon 23rd Nov 2020

See Amid the Winter’s Snow

Here’s your guide track. You’ve got 4 bars of clicks as an intro, plus I gave the last bar of each verse 6 beats to allow for a little slowing down and some time for those who decide to sing along to breathe!! I also ignore the metronome at the end and slow down a bit. It’s OK if you don’t line up exactly though, as I will record my part again listening to your final version so can fit with you!

  • Aim for a sweet bow sound.
  • Take time to tune 1st finger G before starting.
  • Repeat the first section and play the 2nd part on the repeat.
  • Your part in the second half is like the icing on the cake – keep it calm and light.
  • Keep Gs low in the 2nd half too.

Bach Partita 3 Giga

  • For the warm-ups, use a lighter bow, thinking horizontally and leading with your right elbow.
  • Try not to drift sharp from the high B in the exercises.
  • Play a two octave E major scale, starting in 1st position and shifting to a 1 on the middle E. Don’t forget 4th position is where your hand meets the violin body.
  • In the piece, set yourself a comfortable dotted crotchet pulse on a metronome.
  • I’ll try to come up with an exercise for bars 7 and 15 for next lesson!
  • From 17, let your knowledge of the correct hand shape lead you instead of your notion of what you expect to hear.

Mon 16th Nov 2020

Bach warm-ups

  1. Play the following with a light bow in the lower half. Lead the down bows with your elbow and keep the right shoulder low.

2. Play this at the same speed as the first exercise. Think of your bow as being in charge – your fingers will just have to keep up!

3. Keep the string crossings as shallow as possible and follow all tips from exercises 1 and 2.

I’ll email the actual piece to you, but here is a link to the edition I have in case you’re interested in buying a copy.

Schubert Sonatine 2nd movt.

  • Please send me a scanned copy of this and the remaining movement(s?).
  • No hard edges to the sound, especially on the first note.
  • The grace note should fall before the beat

Mon 9th Nov 2020

Some thoughts on posture for you!

Scales

  • Great work on the chromatics! Play them a bit faster now so you can really feel the geography of each octave, but do pause on each 4th finger to check the tuning.

Schubert

  • Careful of the tuning 2 bars before A (and 11th after G).
  • In places like figure C, let the bow glide over the strings.
  • At D and L, rest the bow on the string and keep it simple.
  • Practice 5-8 after E several times, firstly to decide on the fingering and then to get confident at it.
  • Practice the start of the second half for dynamics – play the p over the fingerboard.
  • Keep the bow light and smooth at G, especially when crossing strings.
  • Play 5-12 after H in first position a few times to really get the tuning in your ear.
  • At I, keep driving forwards in the quavers – no hesitating! Notice that each group is the same shape, just starting one night higher each time.

Mon 2nd Nov 2020

Scales

  • Chromatics: check the tuning of 4th fingers.
  • Diminished 7ths: Just 2 octaves first to settle your ear. Watch tuning of the second note.

Schubert (2nd half)

  • Record the first 8 bars of this section and assess your rhythm.
  • Lower half of the bow for the spiccato at the bottom of the page.
  • Practice the shift in the second bar of G for cleanness – it may help to imagine this as a shifting ex. from A to D, with the F# as a guide note.
  • At G, head for the fingerboard to get the right sound quality. Keep it super quiet for as long as it says!
  • Practice the two bars before I in 1st position to get the tuning in your ear before trying it in 4th position.

Mon 19th Oct 2020

Scales

  • To help with the first section of your Schubert, practice your chromatic scales with the 0112234 fingering.
  • To help with the second half of your Schubert, practice a diminished 7th on G with a tuner like so:
    • Semibreves (full, slow bows – be patient!);
    • Just one octave til it’s feeling natural;
    • Add the next octave;
    • Add the A string shift plus a B flat at the top.

Schubert

  • Practice the opening phrase slowly with a metronome (crotchet = 120) so you really get a feel for where the quavers sit within the bar. Speed up gradually, then when you get to a certain speed you can halve the metronome number to get minim beats.
  • Working from the second half, careful of the tuning and the quaver rhythms (although the previous bullet point will help this).
  • From figure F, practice air bowing the notes that aren’t Es and Gs. Once you put the other notes back in, check the E with your open string every now and then.

Mon 12th Oct 2020

Scales

  • A Major – a little slower so you can keep it all the same speed. Imagine you’re playing along with me!
  • Playing with a metronome in all scales will really help!
  • Diminished 7ths – even fingers on one string then odd fingers on the next, or vice versa.
  • Chromatics – try not to think of each note individually, rather as part of a long string of notes.
  • Reminder of A chrom. fingering: 12234 at the bottom and 12123 at the top. You can check your 3rd fingers with the string below.

Schubert

  • Practice 2 bars before A for tuning.
  • In all 4-bar phrases , keep the connection between bars 2 and 3.
  • At D, imagine crotchets in your rests.
  • In general, aim for more dynamic contrasts.

Tue 6th Oct 2020

Scales

  • I’ll leave them at the top of the page til we move onto grade 6!
  • The top of A Major 3 8ves is 12 12 1234, then coming down is 321 4321.
  • Play F Major in 5th position.
  • For the dim and dom 7ths, think through the notes first so you haven’t heard them wrong first!
  • Play the diminished 7ths slowly and evenly so you have time to think about the next note.
  • Dominant 7th in the key of B flat – 2nd position.
  • For the chromatics, think through your fingering for the G and E string notes before you play. Sit fingers comfortably next to each other, not too close! If you get lost, stop and register the note names.

Kreutzer 2

  • It’ sounding good! Work through last week’s comments again.
  • When travelling tip to heel, use smaller down bows.
  • When notes get trickier, i.e. from the 6th bar after H, Switch to half-bar slurs.
  • Smooth bowing, like draping a silk scarf over the strings.

Ashokan Farewell

  • Not too fast, especially the ornaments – we want to hear all the notes!
  • Most glisses only need to be about a semitone, but keep them lazy.

Wed 23rd Sep 2020

Kreutzer 2

  • Try the pencil squeezing exercise to get control over finger strength;
  • Don’t forget to start right at the heel – touch your wrist to your nose and bend the wrist diagonally down and onto the string;
  • As you head to the tip, check shoulder is low too.

Ashokan Farewell

  • Here is Jay Ungar playing it;
  • Try with a metronome to help keep a good skeleton, i.e. a steady, consistent crotchet pulse, and try to strike a balance between rhythmic accuracy and sounding improvisatory;
  • Careful with bowings;
  • Let the bow glide in the double stops;
  • Open strings are good! It’s folk music.

Mon 14th Sep 2020

G Major scale in steps (practice first in 4 note slurs, then 8)

As you have been so busy and didn’t get a chance last week, have a look at last week’s notes for some tips too!

Bach Allemande

  • At the start, fall from the upbeat onto the G and D strings, then think about rolling the chord.
  • In 3-note slurs (especially bar 7), keep the semiquavers flowing and fight against gravity with your bow arm (in a floaty way)!
  • Think of a constant stream of semiquavers everywhere.
  • I’ll try to remember to send you the exercise for shifting up and down the bow (it’s Kreutzer, not Schradieck!), but here is Pekka playing it, and here, for light relief, is his famous Proms encore!

Mon 7th Sep 2020

  • G Major scale as last week – in the repeating notes version, get your head around the note patterns first, then think a bit more about the tuning.
  • G major in 6ths, one octave
  • When playing broken chords (i.e. arpeggios and dim/dom 7ths) don’t elongate the penultimate note.

Bach Allemande

  • A brilliant start on this piece!
  • Write in bar numbers.
  • Practice the start without the first note a few times, then when you add it, start in the same part of the bow. Try not to have a gap between the upbeat and the chord.
  • Remember: long notes naturally create rest and we don’t need to add to it.
  • Be aware of the tuning at the end of b.13.
  • Practice the last 4 notes of 21 with the chord at the start of 22 a few times.

Bach Prélude

  • This sounded beautiful!!!!!
  • When practising last week’s exercise for bar 34, shift as soon as you move to the open string.
  • From the beginning, just a tiny bit more flowing into the start and middle of each bar, but you’re almost there!
  • Spend a bit of time on your tuning for bar 6 (usually the G is a bit flat).
  • From 32, the start of each down bow note was a bit diggy, so try to make it as smooth as possible.
  • Really register the fact that in the rising line in 37 and 38 it’s all semitones from the 4th note of bar 37. Try to play 37-39 correctly at least 5 times in a row.

Wed 2nd Sep 2020

  • G Major scale, watching out for 2nd finger tuning – slowly and listening for resonance, then play a version that repeats pairs of notes, as we did in the lesson (eg. GAGA BABA BCBC DCDC etc.);
  • Practice G major in 6ths, as in the WhatsApp I’ve just sent you!

Bach Prélude

  • Same thought process as last week before you begin. Really ground the first note – don’t be worried about it maybe being a bit longer than the rest.
  • Smooth bow changes (and not too much bow) on separate seniquavers in places like bar 20 and bar 25.
  • From bar 20, the eighth semiquaver should lead to the 9th, not delay it.
  • Don’t slow down too much in 22 – if you do a rit it should be minimal so as to feel natural, not too laboured. Sometimes if we think there should be a rit somewhere we over-egg it and make it into a bit of a cliché, so it can be easier to play it completely in tempo a few times so we can really feel how little rit we need to 
  • Keep momentum of bar 23 going throughout bar 24.
  • Smooth bow change in the middle of bar 26.
  • From b.29, try to feel it in half bars to help with keeping track of where you are in the melody line. The bouncing ball imagery may help – think of how the ball doesn’t stay on the ground, it immediately bounces up and forwards.
  • Exercise for bar 34: A(2) A(0) B(2) A(0)
  • Last chord – practice just the bottom two notes with the last 4 semiquavers of the previous bar for a smooth G and D chord.
  • Start looking at the next movement.

And here, as promised, is some overtone singing!

Wed 19th Aug 2020

  • Play a careful, slow G major scale before you start to centre your tuning and get you in the right headspace.
  • Think the piece through before you start playing. What sound would you like to achieve? What do you need to focus on when you’re playing? Remember the flower imagery (maybe play the first few bars whilst watching this? Make sure it’s on mute though!)
  • When using this imagery, try not to focus on how you will achieve it, just focus on the imagery and the mood you are trying to convey.
  • You could practise the first few bars in an open strings version.
  • Don’t delay on the eighth semiquaver (the end of each half bar).
  • From bar 20, keep your shoulder low and your elbow high. Think of a tennis shot’s follow-through with your right arm when aiming for the C string (impetus from your shoulder blade).
  • When starting, your bow should land like an aeroplane, not a helicopter.
  • Light bow in 29 & 30.
  • 31 keep string crossing angle small.

Fri 5th Aug 2011

Your first lesson with me! 😄🎻

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