Roderick

Welcome to your lesson notes page Roderick!

Sat 4th Sep 2021

Norwegian National Hymn

  • Great rhythm work on this!
  • Prepare your low 2nd for the F natural before you start.
  • Practice bars 7 and 8 with open strings for neat bowing.
  • Practice 9 and 10 replacing the 3rd and 4th beats with crtochets a few times – this should help you not slow down if practiced in alternation with the written rhythm.
  • If practising dotted rhythms in isolation, always play the next note too.
  • Remember the last slur of the piece is smooth.
  • Practice the last 4 bars more than the rest of it as it has a different pattern.

Study in G

  • Practice open strings in a dotted rhythm first.
  • Try recording yourself playing open strings to hear if it’s even.

Study in Crossing Strings

  • Listen to the end of your down bows to make sure you’re in control of them.
  • Your bow angle is mch better nut could still be a tiny bit stringhter (moving your hand forwards).

Minuet

  • Keep the relaxed tempo in bars 5 and 6.
  • Keep the bow concise on the separate quavers in bars 13 and 14.
  • As you reach your 4th finger up in the last 4 bars, bring the thumb up with it but try to keep track of where the G# is so that your A knows where to go.

Sat 21st Aug 2021

Study in G

  • Always look ahead in this study so you can plan for your string crossings and finger placements.
  • If it’s sounding uneven, push the unevenness the other way (ie. playing a semiquaver-dotted quaver rhythm instead.
  • Practice a few more times just with the melodic line (missing out the 2nd, 4th, 6th notes etc) as this will make everything more secure.
  • If you ever hear a crunch from your bow, you know you need to focus on more horizontal motions.
  • 5 bars before the end, get cleanly onto the A string. Pracitce this bar with open strings.

Use your Norwegian piece in Stringbuilder for counting practice and try to weave some counting practice into everything you play. You could also use the reading skills at this link to practice clapping rhythms.

Minuet

  • Count to 3 steadily 4 times before you start playing. Try to count the crotchet pulse every time you have a minim and crotchet.
  • Practice bars 10, 13+14, 21+22 with open strings for neatness. Use as little bow as you can get away with, especially on the separate quavers!

Fri 6th Aug 2021

Study in G

  • Start each variation with a curved little finger reminder.
  • Raise your right elbow to the right height for the D and A strings in both .
  • Keep moving horizontally, leading with the right elbow. You’ll know if this isn’t quite happening if your A string crunches at all.
  • In spiccato, the movement should come from the back of your shoulder, but really tiny as this movement will magnify as it moves down your arm.
  • Also in spiccato, always listen to make sure you’re still moving horizontally so as not to get a chipping woodpecker sound.

Study in crossing strings

  • Like tiddlywinks, a little pinch with the index finger at the start of the note, and then again as you land on the next string, but keep the bow light in between the pinches.
  • Try to keep your bow straight as you do this – think about the position of your wrist as you do this, to keep the bow between the bridge and fingerboard. You can also think about how the bow is intersecting the C cut-outs on the sisde of your violin.
  • Make sure you finish each note with the bow ready on the next string.
  • Remind yourself every few bars to keep your movements small.
  • Don’t forget the C#s in the 2nd half.
  • On the 3rd line, try to keep your LH fingers as lazy as possible, just stepping the 1st finger back onto the E string.

4th finger extensions

  • Try this a little slower to make sure you’re not getting a harmonic on the extension.
  • The normal 4th finger should be slightly curves so that you have the space to reach it out for the higher note.
  • Make sure the bow is just as string on the extensions as on all the other notes.

Minuet

  • Count to 3 a few times before you start, and maybe even clap the rhythm of the first 4 bars.
  • Play and open E before you start playing.
  • Practice bars 5 and 6 open strings to get the bow as simple and natural as possible.

Fri 9th Jul 2021

Study in G

  • Keep reminding yourself about your bow hold.
  • Work on the clarity of the A in bar 12, starting with open strings.
  • Watch out for the low C natural in bar 14.
  • In the spiccato version, see if you can speed it up by making your movements smaller. Never push yourself past the point where you feel in control though. Keep the angle between strings as shallow as possible. The bow hold is especially important in this bow stroke.

Study in crossing strings

  • Make sure you are following all of last lessons’s notes on this.
  • Don’t be in a hurry to play the next note – I don’t mind a gap as long as you are getting the clear starts of each note.
  • Practice bar 7 for the G#.
  • Keep an eye on the bowings.
  • Work in small chunks naming the notes and then the finger nnumbers before playing to help with your note reading.

Ex. for the extension of the 4th finger

  • Start by playing each exercise in normal 1st position (0A 1E 0E 3A) so you know how it should sound.
  • Then watch your tuning once you play the written fingering, especially on the 4th fingers that match open strings.

Sun 27th Jun 2021

Study in G

  • Make your string crossings as calm as possible with as small an angle as possible – gentle waves instead of choppy waters. Keep thinking horizontally with your bow movement, especially on the up bows.
  • In bar 3, try not to disturb your bow – set it to autopilot for the whole of the first phrase.
  • In bar 6, try not to tense up with your bow as you approach the E string note. Listen out for a good sound on your open strings.
  • Try bar 8 a few times open string until it’s on autopilot.
  • Careful with the notes in 13 and 14 – try them a few times without the open Ds.
  • Go back to a slower speed every now and then to help with your control.
  • Try the alternate bowings. For the spiccato, check your bow hold first and use your tardigrade to help you!

Study in string crossings

  • Start at the tip and use the upper quarter of the bow.
  • The bow shouldn’t leave the string.
  • Squeeze a little with your right index finger to get the accents at the start of each note.
  • Make sure the bow remains a consistent distance from the bridge.
  • This has a more militaristic feel to it, so aim for gaps between the notes.

Sun 13th Jun 2021

Pastime with Good Company

  • Careful to start all up beats up bow (except the end of 20).
  • Work on the last 2 lines for long quaver upbeats, rests in 26 and accuracy (not too fast!) in the last bar.

Shadow Wizard

  • Just a bit longer on all dotted crotchets tied to a quaver, plus the penultimate note.

Study in G

  • Practice this piece in 4-bar phrases.
  • Separate bows: Work on keeping the string crossings shallow and the tempo consistent. Also listen out for neatness of bowing – ask whether you could be using less bow.
  • Slurred: try to make your string crossings less angular and more wavy. Always have a horizontal feeling in your bow and try not to let gravity pull you down too crunchily when you play on the higher string.
  • To practice just the fingers, play some double stops (ie. bar 1 will be BCDB with a D drone underneath). Keep the bow light as you do this.
  • To help get a clear 4th finger, make sure your left arm is rotating from right up in the upper half of your arm.

Fri 21th May 2021

Shadow Wizard

  • Hold the ties for long enough in bars 6 and 18.
  • Practice 27-29 thinking about the octave frame (1st finger down a tone, then placing the semitone above it for the E flat). Try not to rush through the rests so you can do this calmly.
  • Don’t forget the last note is L.H. pizzicato!

Pastime with Good Company

  • When practising semiquaver passages like 24 and 25, make sure your quaver upbeats are long enough.

Send me over the next few pages of Eta Cohen when you get a chance.

Sat 8th May 2021

Pastime with Good Company

  • When practising the 2nd half, if bow co-ordination is the issue (eg. 24), practice with open strings and be concise, not using too much bow and keeping the string crossings as shallow as possible. A straight bow will help too!
  • In bar 14, work on keeping the last note low.
  • Practice from 23 replacing the crotchets and quaver rests with 3 quavers to help the rhythm.

Shadow Wizard

  • Listen to some jigs before you play this to help get the right feeling of the beat.
  • In 6 and 10, hope the ties long enough.
  • From 12, imagine an echo in the rests.
  • In 22, make sure the tuning of both A flats match.
  • Careful not to play 26 too slow.
  • You could try giving yourself a task on each beat of rest in 27 and 28: retake your bow, shift your 1st finger down a semiton, place the 2nd finger a semitone above the 1st.
  • Look back at last lessons’s lesson notes too.

Sat 24th Apr 2021

Shadow Wizard

  • When you shift down in bar 9, think about the placement of your 1st finger F natural.
  • Aim high with C# in bar 10.
  • Try to imagine constant quavers from bar 12 and 20. Keep the fingers lazy to avoid rushing the first two quavers.
  • Count bar 26 as 6 double notes instead of 12 individual notes.
  • Remember the harmonic in 27 is in 4th position (hand right up to the body of the violin).
  • Practice the transition between 27 and 29 by thinking of the tone shift down to a D and a semitone 2nd finger placement.
  • When working on dynamics, take it in 4- or 8-bar chunks. Look at the dynamics before you play and imagine the technical requirements for making the dynamics happen.

Pastime with Good Company

  • Always make sure you start with a metronome.
  • Give yourself more time on quavers, crotchets and rests. To help with this, think about using a slower, longer bow on longer notes, and give the rests space.

Sat 10th Apr 2021

Shadow Wizard

  • Do some work on rhythm without your violin before you start playing. Clap some dotted crotchet beats but sub-divide them into three quavers each in your head (like “hickory dickory”).
  • Follow this with practising the first 4 bars. Try to keep counting just as carefully as you were
  • Practice bar 7 to the start of bar 8 back and forth to help linking these two sections.
  • Keep thinking of “hickory dickory” from bar 12 to help keep the quavers even.
  • Try to keep the dynamics in mind too.
  • Practice bar 23 (up bow) and the first note of bar 24 a few times. Add the bar before, then go from 20.
  • Bar 24 and the first note of 25 are also in 3rd position.
  • Use the sul tasto markings on the last line to get a whispering sound, tilting the bow and lightening the weight on the string. Try to match the mood you’ve achieved with a light pizzicato at the end.

Sat 20th Mar 2021

General practice point: try starting with run-throughs of your pieces in some of your practice sessions.

Shadow Wizard

  • Practice a one octave G harmonic minor scale to help with bars 16 and 17.
  • If the B flat in 17 causes problems, play just 16 and the first 3 notes of 17 a few times. Try to place the 2nd and 3rd fingers for the C and B flat at the same time.
  • Practice 23 alternating between 1st and 3rd position, maybe even adding a D octave in between to make sure the 1st finger is in tune.
  • Improvising exercise: why not pick a simple tune, maybe from your Stringbuilder book, and experiment with some octave displacement, moving some notes of the melody up or down an octave.

Pastime with Good Company

  • Keep your crotchets full lentgth in bars 12 and 13 to avoid speeding up at the end of the 1st half.
  • From the second verse, make sure your quavers in the middle of semiquaver runs, like bars 15 and 19, are long enough.
  • Practice the final bar in two halves: a scale E flat to G with two Gs at the end, then just the last slur and the minim.

Sat 6th Mar 2021

Pastime with Good Company

  • Practice bar 17 a few times. When you’re happy with neatness, add a note. Move onto adding the next note only when you’re happy with the neatness.
  • When you’re practising with the metronome, make sure you playing the the last notes of bars 15 and 16 after the click.
  • Make sure you start bar 15 on a down bow (retake) and hold the quaver on beat 2 for long enough.
  • Try to cover a bit more of the second half.
  • Watch out for the down bow at the end of bar 20, and then make sure the 4th note of 21 has a bit of a lean on it.

Shadow Wizard

  • Find your 1st note accurately (it was quite flat a few times).
  • In any bars finishing with quavers, make sure you don’t lengthen the last one, delaying the start of the next bar.
  • Remember the highest notes in bar 8 are like the top of a D harmonic minor scale.
  • Remember the B natural in 12 is a high 1st finger.

Sat 20th Feb 2021

Pastime with Good Company

  • Great work on this!
  • Work on the tuning in bar 14. You can play a one octave G melodic minor scale (just ascending) to prepare.
  • Make sure the quaver G in bar 15 is long enough.
  • Feel a little lift on the barline between 15 and 16.
  • Take your time in bar 17 on the crotchets and quavers.

Start looking at Shadow Wizard.

Sun 7th Feb 2021

Paganini

  • Keep this ticking over if you’d like, but I don’t need to hear it anymore unless you have specific questions.

Pastime with Good Company

  • Careful of the 2nd finger placement in bar 8.
  • Make sure the upbeat to bar 9 is on an up bow – it should be a continuation of the up bow before the quaver rest. Bar 8 starts on a down bow by the way!
  • When working with the metronome, really latch onto the crotchets from bar 9 and keep them steady with the beat.
  • In bar 14, make sure you don’t fall into the semiquavers (i.e. keep the quavers steady at the start of the bar).
  • Practice the two halves of the piece separately for now and try the second half with the metronome at a slightly slower speed than the first half.
  • Keep the rhythm precise on the second beat of bar 15.

Sat 23rd Jan 2021

Posture: see if this video helps.

Paganini

  • Keep up the the open string practice. Aim for super clean string crossings and a fluid string of notes.
  • Once you start putting your fingers back, start with one bar for tuning, then add one note, then another etc. but still keep listening for the tuning of any notes you had to focus on individually, even when you put the whole section together. You can use your tuner to help you with individual notes.
  • Watch out in particular for the As on the E string from bar 13, the D on the A string in bar 18 and the G at the start of bar 19.
  • From 21, make sure all your 1st and 3rd fingers are in the right places.

Pastime with Good Company

  • Great work on the first half! Make sure all your upbeats are on up bows.
  • Work a bit on your tuning in bar 4, making the 2nd finger movement precise and keeping the third finger in tune to the end of the bar.
  • Practice bar 14 just the semiquavers (tiny bows and 4th finger) and minim, starting down bow. Then add the three quavers before, starting on an up bow in the middle.

Sat 2nd Jan 2021

Key thing – elbow levels for string crossings.

Paganini

  • Keep listening out for matching tuning between 4th fingers and open strings
  • Watch tuning on 2nd line, esp. 3rd position 4th finger
  • Keep observing rests on 3rd line
  • Last section – practice your open strings exercise in smaller sections til you feel your bow is relaxed and accurate
  • Buy a new E string?
  • Use a metronome starting at 45 for the whole of the last section, then up to 50. Next practice at 50 then 55, etc.
  • Remember to think about the elbow levels.

Pastime

  • Metronome at 100 for the first section.
  • Longer 4th note in bar 21.
  • Bar 22 keep 3rd finger constant – shifting the hand weight to that finger will help the tuning.

Sat 19th Dec 2020

Paganini

  • These are good warm-ups for the second line:
  • Aim for higher 3rd fingers on the E string on line 4.
  • Remember to hold the crotchet long enough in bar 16.
  • Practice the last section in 2 bar chunks with open strings. Use shorter bows and see how neat and precise you can get these string crossings.

Pastime with Good Company

  • Here’s a recording of the second half with a metronome set to crotchet=80. It’s ok to slow down very slightly in the last bar.
  • When listening to this recording, or a YouTube version, follow your part and clap the rhythms as you listen.
  • Here is a tenuto definition for you.
  • Think about where you might use 4th fingers.
  • Start bar 22 with a nice low 2nd finger.
  • Watch out for the rests in bar 26.

Sun 6th Dec 2020

Paganini

  • Watch out for tuning when playing the same note with different fingers.
  • Keep your rests precise and clear, especially in line 3.
  • Keep the crotchet pulse the same when switching to triplets.
  • In bar 13, position your high 2nd finger when you play the last note of the bar so it’s ready for the next bar.
  • In bar 16, imagine a group of triplets to help play the crotchet long enough.
  • Practice the triplet sections in two-bar chunks , and especially from bar 17, try to look ahead and register each triplet group as a whole, ahead of playing it.

Pastime with Good Company

  • Play a 1 octave G melodic minor scale to warm up, keeping the 3rd finger’s tuning stable as you move the 2nd finger, plus this exercise to warm up 2nd finger independence for bar 4:
Aim to play this at the speed of the piece.
  • Don’t rush the crotchets from bar 9.
  • Use a 4th finger whenever the note is surrounded by lower notes, e.g. the semiquaver A in bar 14.
  • Start looking at verse 2.

Sat 21st Nov 2020

Paganini

Here’s a video of the real thing!

  • Watch out for the G and F sharps in bar 2
  • Keep the rhythm as good in lines 2 and 3 as it is in line 1, especially observing the rests.
  • 3rd section warm-up (repeat a few times):
  • Talk yourself through this last section, identifying the arpeggios.
  • In bar 21, notice your 1st finger needs to move for the first half of the bar, then the 3rd finger in the second half of the bar.
  • Practice doing the p repeats, as suggested.

Study in C

  • Slightly lighter with your bow – keep it flowing.
  • Careful of 3rd finger tuning in bars 7 and 9.
  • Try bowing variation (iv).

Sat 7th Nov 2020

Paganini

  • Warm up with an A melodic minor scale to help with the #s in bar 2.
  • Practice this scale to warm up (you can practice it two different ways: with the position changes as suggested, and in 1st position to practice string crossings, except the last bar which needs to move to 3rd position regardless):
  • Always think horizontally with your bow, keeping it light, especially on string crossings.
  • In bar 3, play the first note with a 4th finger, then move to open A after the rest. If this is tricky with the bow, practice the first two notes of bar 1 a few times, then try the first 2 notes of bar 3.
  • Always stop the bow for the semiquaver rests. They will help you have time to think ahead.
  • In bar 6, move to 3rd position after the rest. Shift back to 1st position after the next rest in bar 7.
  • To help your fingers in bar 8, focus on the C being the bottom note.
  • In bar 11, use your 4th finger for the D# (think of it like an E flat instead).

Sat 24th Oct 2020

Study in C

  • Watch out for 4th finger tuning.
  • Practice bars 5, 7 and 9 like so:
  • Always keep your bow light and flowing.

Paganini

  • Start bars 2, 3 and 4 with 4th fingers.
  • Play the p repeat in the upper half of the bow.

Mon 12th Oct 2020

Study in C

  • To improve string crossings:
    • Slow the tempo down;
    • Pick a problem bar and play the open strings version until your bow arm feels smooth and natural, keeping the string crossing movements as shallow as possible;
    • Alternate between the open string version and the written notes.

Paganini

  • Warm up with a 2 octave A minor scale (both melodic and natural minors will be useful);
  • Make sure the semiquaver after the semiquaver rest flows into the following group of notes;
  • 4th fingers instead of open Es;
  • Shift to 3rd position after the rest in bar 6 and back to 1st position after the rest in bar 7. Use the rest to help you shift calmly and accurately – there’s no rush.

Pastime with Good Company

  • A G minor scale would be a good warm-up;
  • Feel free to work on pitches and rhythm separately at first.

Sat 26th Sep 2020

Try not to sit too close to your desk so that you can bow freely out in front of you, all the way to the tip.

Tuning

  • Play the strings with a long slow bow so the tuner has time to register the sound.

Castle on a Cloud

  • When warming up with C major, make sure you use 1st and 2nd fingers to help you tune your first note.
  • In A harmonic minor, aim for a higher G# on the D string. Use the tuner to check your first and last notes.
  • In the piece, start in the middle of your bow to help with the quiet start.
  • Careful of the repeating rhythm you have at the start (quaver, two semiquavers).
  • In the second section, make the dotted rhythms a bit more precise.

Minuett

  • Use a melodic minor scale, just ascending, to prepare for your first bar.
  • Retake for line 3.

Eta Cohen Scales

  • In the semibreve scale, aim for a consistent tone all along the bow (not too heavy-handed at the heel) and curl your little finger as you approach the heel.
  • In 2, start with a tiny bit of air bowing so that you really touch down lightly at the start of the crescendo, then make sure each note starts the same dynamic as the previous one finished.
  • In 5, use the full length of the bow, pulsing slightly to define the crotchets.

Study in C

  • A slightly lighter bow.
  • Look ahead so you read scales, arpeggios and direction changes rather than each individual note.
  • Start to try some bowing variations.

Fri 11th Sep 2020

In general when sitting at your desk to play, make sure you have both feet flat on the floor and sit on the highest part of the chair (is that the front edge?) to keep good posture. You should almost be mimicking standing from the waist upwards.

Angry Tango

  • From b.11, test how quiet you can go! You could try out some vibrato here too, but we can work on that together in the next lesson if you’d prefer.
  • In 19 and 20, imagine the notes are staccato except the accented note. Try a double up bow in 20 to help with this.
  • Careful of the tuning of you last note.

Castle on a Cloud

  • Count yourself in out loud with a bar of 3 and a bar of 2. Try to keep counting in your head throughout.
  • Start in the upper half near the fingerboard to help achieve pp.
  • From 12, keep the bow smooth. Watch out for dotted rhythms vs. straight quavers.
  • To work on the end of bar 13, practice just the last note of bar 13 going into the first note of bar 14 – start near the heel despite it being an up bow.

Minuett

  • Warm up with D harmonic minor and F major scales, going as high as B flat on the E string.

New Book

  • Try the different bowing variations on any scales you play this week.
  • Learn the notes in Study in C – we can add the bowing variations once you are familiar with the piece.

Thu 27th Aug 2020

Here is the vibrato video. Take it slowly and gently and always make sure your whole arm is relaxed throughout.

Sat 14th Jun 2014

Your first lesson with me! 😄🎻

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