Community
You must be a member to respond to discussions.
Discussion

Elke Meier
This discussion includes members-only video content

Practice time...

I have the house to myself today, so for quite some time I was looking forward to recording a mini-recital for you today with the Rieding concert and another Rieding piece I have been practicing. But now I thought that more important than a recital are some questions I need answers for in a piece I recently started to practice - so the part that would be more pleasant for you to listen to has to wait...

The last weeks I have worked a lot with Schradieck, and I did shifting exercises. So I thought it would be good to start to work on a piece which would incorporate these two things. The Küchler "Concertino" (op.15) seemed appropriate. Today I took the time to really mark my bowing and also think about where I want to include shifting. The piece had some shifts already marked (I got the Dowani version), but there were some other places where I thought that for dynamic reasons (to get a different tone for repetitions) or for lazyness reasons (to avoid unpleasant string changes) I would also like to shift. One of them I had seen in the IMSLP version and I liked it, other places I had thought out how to shift myself. - And here comes my question. I am still in the very beginning stages of shifting. The way I marked it included some 4th position, which is still a bit hard, since my shifting exercises have not included that yet. But it seemed sensible at these places. BUT I am anything but sure that what made sense to me really IS the sensible thing to do... Would you have a look at it and tell me what you think?
Also, at 3:40 a passage starts where I am not sure that I do the bowing right. Is this how you would bow these kinds of patterns?

Embedding images here makes them very small.
So I have placed a copy of my marked up sheet music in a better resolution in my Dropbox, so you can follow my fingering and shifting. Please tell me where you would decide differently. - The video (as well as the image) only includes the second and third movement. The first one is hard to play (at least for me) but it is rather straight forward - so all it needs is practice. But in the second and third I am not sure. And, as I said, I just started this a few days ago, so please try to ignore the messy intonation and the rhythmic problems. I had to slow down basically at every shift... But I wanted to be sure that my shifting/fingering/bowing decisions were good before I got deeper into it.
Elke Meier
20 Responses
Posted: October 31, 2015
Last Comment: November 3, 2015
Replies

Mary Freeman
Posted: November 3, 2015
I don't mind 
If I don't mind
A little Buddhist humor ;-)

Rustam Gill
Posted: November 3, 2015
This discussion includes members-only video content

I was reminded of this video...

Rustam Gill
Posted: November 3, 2015
A great book on the subject is Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell. In it, he discusses how decisions that are made in the blink of an eye are actually based on our prior experiences and our brain filtering what is useful based on those experiences. Of course, the caveat here is that if the prior experience, aka our practicing, is productive and correct, our brain and body will make the correct decision subconsciously. If the practice is poor(or nonexistent), well then good luck :) The key is mindful practice prior, and then trusting yourself to make that shift/bowing etc. when performing.

Elke Meier
Posted: November 2, 2015
I had hardly put it up, Mary, when I discovered a grave mistake... So I had to take it down again and correct it :).

Mary Freeman
Posted: November 2, 2015
It was more about not letting my thinking interfere with what I have trained my hands to do. I am trying to do this so that I can play more comfortably in front of people. Thank you for reposting your chart on the other thread. I was bummed when you took it down. You really are a good teacher  

Elke Meier
Posted: November 2, 2015
Rustam, you made complete sense with the talk of "turning off your brain"! Remember a little bit ago when Mary in a post said that she wanted to get to the point where the brain did not "interfere" any more. This is so right. I remember from my medical training several decades ago that reflexes are actually nervous shortcuts: a nervous impulse does not take the "detour" through the brain but is at the spinal cord level instantly transformed into action. This is for muscular impulses, but I think something similar happens with visual impulses. Or with bowing. I cannot get my left and right hand coordinated for the fast passages if I let the brain "interfere". And the same for shifting: as long as I try hard to find the right pitch, it is very much hit and miss - more miss than hit! Then I consciously relax the shoulder and arm and just let the hand go to the right place intuitively - and all of a sudden it is more hit than miss.

And Beth! A very big thank you from the bottom of my heart for such a detailed answer!! This is way more than what I would have ever imagined! - But so extremely helpful.
A few comments:
Sharp third finger because of readjusting the hand: Very interesting! I have been wondering why my third finger is so often unpredictable. It should be easy, being such a strong ring tone! But often in the Schradieck exercises when i go up a scale it is all right, but coming down I am off. I watched myself now before a mirror - and I think the real culprit actually is the forth finger. I have to adjust the hand frame ever so slightly to reach with the forth finger without being flat. And I think this got me into a bad habit! Either I have to consciously readjust it for going down when I am done with the forth finger, or (and this is what I hope will happen eventually) get these fingers to stretch more at the base knuckles so I actually don't HAVE to make this adjustment any more for the #4. But till this is the case I am very glad you pointed out the problem and I can concentrate on not letting the fourth finger problem affect the other fingers and finding ways to work around it.
"Swinging" bow arm on the sixteenth passages: Actually, I don't think I can blame the slur at the beginning for this... I was rather horrified when I watched the video and saw how crocked the bow was at times and how much the shoulder was involved in these fast passages. I think it is plain tension. I am afraid I won't get the fast notes, and I am equally afraid that left and right hand won't work together and the notes will get unclean. So the bow arm elbow/wrist turns stiff and tries to keep control this way... - wrong method :)! I don't think though that I can change this in this piece (I am not familiar enough with the notes at this point). So I have started to do those of the Schradieck exercises that I know well already with just elbow movement and a very loose wrist. Hopefully this will result in a greater independence between left and right hand and eventually translate into good bow movement in Küchler. But it is really hard going! It feels like I have to learn to bow all over again. Well, but to be honest: I really enjoy it when I notice: now, here comes a new level of learning :).
Bowing during the musical pattern of measures 77-84: I was wondering how to get the open string A less pronounced. In your example I saw that you bowed this section much more toward the tip of the bow and not like I did right in the middle of the bow. I will try to mirror that.
Effect of the live class: After the class I started to use some of the kinesthetic intonation principles in this piece and found that some of the fingerings in the shifted passages all of a sudden became manageable. But after watching your video I thought I should really go through and even think and mark the places where I so far have thought: oh, why bother here? I find these notes without this crutch. And it is true, I do find them - mostly. But it really is what the original name of the class promised: the intonation becomes more predictable when I consciously place a finger in relation to a previous finger. Thank you so much again for this teaching - it really will change a lot for me!!

Rustam Gill
Posted: November 1, 2015
My teacher tells me to practice fast passages with shifts by playing normal tempo until the shift, then slow it down to where you can shift deliberately, hearing the pitch, etc. After the shift, speed back up to tempo. As you improve, you will find the shift goes quicker and quicker, with less and less of a change in tempo from the main passage. That's how I have been practicing shifts and I like it. Maybe you can give it a shot.

Also, I find the discussion about 'landmarks' when shifting interesting. I am far from perfect at finding the correct pitch in 3rd position, but I find that more and more, I'm only a quarter-step away from the correct pitch when I do try to find it without a reference pitch. A few months ago, I would be as much as a whole step off, so it definitely improves.

I think the 'landmark' idea is a combination of conscious and subconscious cues. What helped me was to consciously think about and take note of how my hand feels/what part of the violin it touches when it  is in correct position and I have checked the pitch. However, when I am trying to find the note out of the blue, I do much better when I just turn off my brain and "trust" I will find the correct note. By the way, this applies to first position too. I realized that once I really regularly took the time to consider all the tactile cues I can take from my hand when I know it is in the correct first position, it has become easier to begin a song in tune, without having to 'find' first position as I play.

I hope that made sense. It's hard to describe things like this over text, and my writing may just come off as nonsensical rambling...Of course maybe that's not far from the truth :)

Beth Blackerby
Posted: November 1, 2015
This discussion includes members-only video content



Elke Meier
Posted: November 1, 2015
I like your kitchen metapher, Maria - subdividing like a cake :). Maybe that is the reason. As I said, the "landmark" thing just does not work for me, every time I try to take that one as a reference point I end up sharp. Oh, but I just had another thought: the subdividing like a cake does not work after all. You don't divide it into equal distances, the distances get shorter all the time. Maybe it is the thinking that you start with bigger movements/distances and then get into smaller one. kind of like developing large motor skills before you develop fine motor skills. Well, I don't know, I am just thinking out loud here...

Maria
Posted: November 1, 2015
Elke, shifting to 2nd position is easier I believe, Now 3rd is much more difficult because you shift 2 notes away. Perhaps there are teachers who starts with 2nd position but majority starts with odd numbers 1-3-5-7, but learning 2nd first is fine but there is not much difficulty there so instead more time will be needed to a difficult technique...Not an expert but I wish Beth could explain better...This is just 'Maria's observation' :) so nothing is writen in stone :)

The reason must be like the 1st position first finger down as land mark then 3rd position is another land mark [it's a technique -imagine it subdivided like a pie] that will help with precision shifting to the next higher position...When you shift to 3rd position your guide will be when the lower part of your palm touches the bottom/body of the violin then you work from there- could few mm less or more.

Elke Meier
Posted: November 1, 2015
Just a few comments:

Maria:
I don't believe in the 3rd, 5th, 7th position "rule". Why should 2nd be so much harder than 5th? Both are just certain places on the fingerboard and the hand needs to be placed at the right spot for them. Maybe they think that in 3rd you start with natural ring tones and that makes it easier? But then you use those tones also when you are in the other positions. For me the "feel" of the side of the violin in 3rd position does not really work. I am never at the right spot when I try to use that as a guide.
When I saw that the Geringas book starts by just having you walk up and down the finger board, I really liked this idea. In the Yost exercises I am still in the first section, which is rather boring changes between 1st and 2nd position. But in the Geringas etudes I have come across anything between 2nd and 5th (although in the last few etudes they had more of 3rd than of any other). The two things together are starting to give me a spacial "awareness" of the fingerboard which I really enjoy.

Rustam:
You are right: I come from the "grabbing out of the air" side. I noticed also that there are a few of the shifts where I now can use the sliding. What the "grabbing out of the air" does for me though is that it makes the hand very light. If you want to do that you plain CAN NOT grab the fingerboard. I found that if I try to slide too consciously I have more pressure. The few times when it really has worked to just "go" to a note and know: this is exactly where it is - they have been wonderful :). So I don't want to lose this experience - on the contrary. But for most shifts in this piece I also don't want to jump around on the fingerboard. On the other hand, a lot of the shifts in this piece happen in sections of rather fast eighth or even sixteenth notes (I play it in practice mode here! I think the original accompaniment is close to double this speed..). I don't see yet how I can slide then. Sliding takes more time than just going there.  - I am not really sure what is right here.
The bowing: I am not sure I do it right. Yes, it is how it is marked and I can see why - try it the other way round without hitting the adjacent string... But even this "easy" pattern just about killed me the first couple of days I tried to do it :) - but then I got into the rhythm. BUT: I just feel that the open A gets too much of an emphasis. It should be lighter. An open string is naturally stronger than a fingered note. And it gets the part of the bow which is heavier - so I don't really know how to make the melody stand out and not the open strings. I cannot give the melody notes more bow, they are just followed also by one note, so I run out of bow in no time.

Kurosh:
Yes, I could do the measure 49 in 2nd position, but in my understanding it would defeat the purpose. I have heard it said many times that the different strings have different tone qualities. I wanted the softer quality for the piano section, so I need to go to a lower string. - At least this is how I interpreted this principle. - But maybe I am overinterpreting here...

Maria
Posted: November 1, 2015
Elke, [just woke up 2 hrs ago]

Usually the teacher starts on odd numbers, 3rd-5th-7th and accidental 2nd 4th-and 6th but seldom so try to start like that if you can...

Maria
Posted: November 1, 2015
My teacher told me last week, while my 2nd finger is on D 5th position an the next note is A [on E string here] and there's a 3 atop that A, I  need to slide my 2nd finger to G and quickly place my 3rd finger to A...RULE: the last finger shifts then proceed or finger down to the intended note...Hope it helps, i'm back to shifting 101- I was holding it off for many years now and now that i'm not getting younger i promised to learn it from now on even though it's hard and it's like a torture device :) I will share with you whatever knowledge i will learn if you don't know it already.

I startedin 2004 and stopped after 3 yrs and intermittently.

Rustam Gill
Posted: November 1, 2015
Hi Elke,
I'm basically in the same boat as you when it comes to shifting so take my comments with a grain (or two) of salt. It seems you have the mechanics of shifting down and are working on incorporating it into music. This seems like a good, challenging piece to do that. 

As far as I can tell, your shifts seem sensibly placed. And you are executing them well for the most part. I noticed a couple of times, though, that you didn't really shift up to the note but "grabbed it" out of the air. As far as I understand you want to avoid that unless you are shifting right after playing an open string or starting a phrase in a higher position.

Other than that, the bowing you used at 3:40 seems what the composer wants, because the down bow on the first two slurred sixteenth notes in that passage is in print, so you are supposed to be bowing the way you are. It seems strange because the music has you doing up bows on down beats but maybe that's on purpose to make the quick string crossings easier.

Good playing btw. This looks like a tough piece.

kurosh
Posted: November 1, 2015
Hi Elke,
I wonder if you tried 2nd position instead of 4th ( measure 49 ) starting P with open D, then 1st finger on F# etc..?. It might be worth a try. 

Dean Kutryk
Posted: November 1, 2015
Hey Elke, if nobody else is going to say anything, I will say that I do like how your left hand is positioned, the hand is not collapsed. I think that I am collapsing my hand, but seeing your hold as well as watching a few more of Beths videos really has my attention. Your fingers are nice and quick. Btw, I see that in book 2 of Suzuki there are a few songs with lots of eighth notes and maybe some repetition of those notes. I see a fair amount of that also in what you are working on. I looks like memorizing the notes might make things easier. It can't be that easy to sight read so many fast sequences of notes but than again, this might be the case only when it is time to perform the song.

Dean Kutryk
Posted: October 31, 2015
The second line begins in third position, it later goes back into first position, than back into third. It appears that you need to use glissando on the position changes. Okay there was no number five...too much of your writing on that paper!

Oh, that is your writing, nevermind, sorry.

Elke Meier
Posted: October 31, 2015
I am not sure, where you see a glissando - or do you mean my light green lines between two notes where a shift happens? I marked those so I would be alerted to them. The number 5 definitely has nothing to do with the shifting, it just means "measure 5".

Dean Kutryk
Posted: October 31, 2015
Looks like it has glissando in it. Not sure what the number 5 is doing there as far as a glissando shift. The third position shifts look correct in the first couple of lines.

Elke Meier
Posted: October 31, 2015
Another thought: I will save the image in two parts and try to import them here - maybe then the markings will already be visible. If not, the better resolution is under the Dropbox link.