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Nick
This discussion includes members-only video content

Here's my current progress with Lully's Gavotte.

Comments and critique welcome.

Nick
37 Responses
Posted: March 8, 2016
Last Comment: May 8, 2016
Replies

Beth Blackerby
Posted: May 8, 2016
Yep, it has that quality that I noticed when I played on a Strad once. They somehow make notes more distinct when you play. There's such clarity.

Maria
Posted: May 8, 2016

Yes...

brb...visitors came

Barbara Habel
Posted: May 8, 2016
What a beautifully sounding violin. You are doing great even with nerves.

Nick
Posted: May 8, 2016
This discussion includes members-only video content

Thanks for your comments Kevin, and to everyone who commented on this thread.

Another video of me playing Lully Gavotte. All my practising of "soft bow landings" and "different shadings of tenuto" etc went out the window due to nerves!




Posted: May 2, 2016
Hi Nick, I just saw your videos again, and I still marvel at your nice playing in those most gorgeous rooms that look like they're right out of the 18th century somewhere. I can almost imagine Mozart playing in them, like the Franz Joseph gold-on-white decor... Really nice. Thank you so much for posting. Cheers, Kevin

Nick
Posted: March 28, 2016
Hi Hannarette,
Sorry to hear about your injury and illness, I hope you're feeling better.
I play without a shoulder-rest since ditching it about a year into my playing when I had an injury to my neck and shoulder. I felt that there was too much tension using the shoulder rest and I believe it was the cause of my injury (or, my incorrect use and understanding of it was the cause) - but suffice to say, I feel much less tension now without a SR, but tension is still a factor...and I think it will always be a factor, it's just a question of minimising it as much as possible..
I experimented a lot with how I hold the violin when going SR-less and one major problem I had to overcome was how to prevent the violin from pivoting from the chin with the violin moving toward the centre of my body. If you have a piece of chamois leather on your chin rest, the friction this provides prevents the violin from moving to some extent; but the real breakthrough for me came when I realised that I need to support or hold the violin up with the left hand. I achieved this by raising the violin slightly with the bony part of my left thumb. This action fundamentally changed the way I play and it took some time to get used to.
For example, when playing with a SR, I used to hold and control the violin with my head taking the majority of the weight of the violin on the chin rest; I also played with the neck of the violin resting on a "shelf" created with the first knuckle of my left hand index finger. This shelf completely disappeared when went SR-less as I held the violin up slightly with my thumb.
In SR-less playing, the support of the violin comes from the left hand, rather than the chin and index finger in SR playing. I still feel that my thumb and first finger sometimes has too much tension and when I notice this in my playing (either through an aching feeling or feeling my hand squeezing) I try to focus and play with my thumb very relaxed until I retain a total relaxed thumb/hand again.
Learning to play relaxed and tension-free is difficult, especially without a shoulder-rest (a SR enables your head to take more weight of the violin and thus more control of it - whereas SR-less playing involves your left hand supporting the violin and playing at the same time). There is always a probability of tension becoming a factor in our playing and we should always be aware of it and constantly loosening up when you see it creeping into our playing.
I think you just need to experiment (as I am still doing!) and have one thing in mind - find a way to play which involves the least amount of tension, at the chin/jaw area as well as the left hand.
I hope my post was of some help to you - I've just watched the sight-reading webinar and it's 3.30am here in London and i'm a little tired so I do hope my post made a little sense!).
Let us know how you get on but make sure you're fully recovered from your injuries before resuming to play!


Posted: March 28, 2016
Hi Nick!
It was really good for me to see someone else without a shoulder rest. I made a habbit of watching people who are playing without one just because I like to see what they do with the balance of the violin....
Very nice playing!
At this moment I am going really slow....
I took a horse ride helping my dad to gather the sheep (alone) and ended up in the hospital with a bad concussion!!!
Weeks in bed not allowed to <think> was hard. I wasnt even allowed to play violin... ;(
I just started to pick up the violin again when I caught the flu!
Finally I had enough strength to take up the violin, I suddenly had tension problems... in my left hand thumb.... I saw that I lowered  my thumb totally under the violin neck in order to keep it up and to support it. That gave me bad tension in the arm. How do I support the violin and keep my thumb only touching at the side?
That is hard one and I guess that every one needs to figure it out for oneself... But maybe you have a tip or two?

Nick
Posted: March 28, 2016
Beth, thank you for ethe feedback. i'm glad it's improved a bit. There's still a long way to go but i'm glad i'm going in the right direction - I envisage this piece being part of my "practise repertoire" for a long time to come.

Diane, thank you for the link ; )



Posted: March 27, 2016
Article from the new Strad. Magazine

Hi Nick…just found this article in the Strad Magazine and thought you might find it very interesting.  Sorry to post it here…I can't find the other thread that you had going. 
Check this out about auction houses across the pond!  : >) Diane in Socal

http://www.thestrad.com/cpt-latests/ask-the-experts-buying-your-first-instrument-at-auction/?utm_source=Adestra&utm_medium=email

Beth Blackerby
Posted: March 27, 2016
Bravo Nick! The softer shadings makes a big difference in the perception of the phrasing. Your musicality and phrasing sounds professional. You have such an incredible command over the bow!

Nick
Posted: March 26, 2016
This discussion includes members-only video content

I've been working on the Lully Gavotte (again) after all of your helpful critiques and comments. I tried to incorporate into my practise all the things which Beth identified in her brilliant response video. I still have a lot of work to do for this piece e.g. the "speeding up tempo" issue (as well as many other issues which are still evident in my playing) but I thought i'd post a video of where i'm at currently with it. Comments and critiques welcome.

Jaime - Orlando , Fl
Posted: March 12, 2016
Like always Nick!, an inspiration to us all! You truly are committed and your dedication is paying off in great dividends! Congratulations! :0)


Posted: March 12, 2016
very good Nick, really enjoyed you play , you are doing great job 
also was delighted to get a video response from Beth as well , it really helps all of us I think ,  to play the piece in another position different from where we would usually start. 

Katja
Posted: March 11, 2016
That was really enjoyable - thank you for sharing. 

And you definately should start shifting. I don't know what teachers normally prefer, but my teacher seems started to talk about shifting in my last lesson and I am not even close to your level. 


Posted: March 11, 2016
Nice playing, Nick. I like your disciplined approach to learning the violin.

Regarding shifting, the Suzuki books have exercises (surprise!) that people tend to ignore, including shifting. They need to be practiced with instructions from a teacher, of course, but most of what you need to know are in those books. The pieces in the Suzuki books have fingerings indicated on them so you can apply the shifts. This is particularly important, I think, because people have a tendency to use only odd numbered positions.  

Keep up the good work!

Kathleen Lewandowski
Posted: March 10, 2016
I am glad you played the piece without the mute.  You play beautifully.

Beth Blackerby
Posted: March 9, 2016
I usually skip the first piece in the book and save it for later. I understand why it was presented first, but think it's better to start with sliding the finger first, or single shifts after an open string to 3rd position. The other pieces are more in line with the presentation of shifting in other books like the Whistler. It would be entirely ok to start with the second piece. I hope everyone gives the book a chance. It really does do a good job of training good shifting habits.

Rustam Gill
Posted: March 9, 2016
What threw me off about the Geringas book is that it starts out with teaching you to shift from an open string. The Whistler book (the one I have been using) focuses on shifting on fingers and doesn't even really mention open string shifts. To me it confused me and made it harder to learn shifting, but of course this was before Beth made her tutorials. I might dig it up again to clean up shifting technique.

I do really like the fact that the Geringas book takes you into all positions, not just third. I think the mechanics of shifting into higher positions than 3rd force you to move your elbow and hand around as you come up the violin bout. Just working on 3rd position gave me some bad habits as I never had to worry about that. Most of you have seen my left hand position as being deep in the hand. From this position, it is even more important for me to bring my thumb under as I shift up the violin. I am now trying to get used to bringing my thumb under the instrument as I shift. I wonder if it would have been better if I had gotten used to this right as I began to learn to shift.

CC
Posted: March 9, 2016
Geringas
Hi Nick, that was really beautiful. I have been working on shifting from 3 different books (Essential Technique, Whistler and Geringas) and I much prefer the Geringas. I bought it last on Elke's recommendation and it did feel odd at first after using the other two books but it really makes more sense to learn the different positions at the same time rather than just learning 3rd position first. I'm so glad Beth is making tutorials using that book. And yes, shifting from an open string felt different at first but Beth explains it so well. It might be an approach your teacher hasn't seen before but it really does make learning the positions easier. I think you will like it. Well done.

Elke Meier
Posted: March 9, 2016
That's a pity that your teacher did not like this exercise. I love it. It is much harder than the next ones and I still cannot really do it consistently. I can go up the fingerboard, but on the way down to the get hand back into the normal position after the high notes is so extremely hard. Still, I start any shifting exercise with this one - for one reason: it frees my hand and gives me a feel for the length of the fingerboard. I also do the Yost exercises. But with them I notice that the hand and the fingers tend to tense up a bit when I do them for a while, whereas if I do the first Geringas exercise my hand feels freer in the end. The Geringas exercise also exposes any tension in the shoulder. If I cannot for the life of me get the shifts right, it is normally an indication of a not completely relaxed shoulder.

Nick
Posted: March 9, 2016
This discussion includes members-only video content

Hi Lotte,

Thanks for your comments and for spotting my vibrato wrist/forearm movement.

The superfluous wrist movement during vibrato is very clear in the second video, my wrist is silhouetted against the light of the window...

I have been practising doing vibrato exercises concentrating solely on keeping a stationary wrist w/very narrow oscillations coming only from the hand. I seem to have my wrist under control better in this exercise but when it's back to playing the piece, I notice the wrist wobble is there again. This will need extra work until I can consistently play with a stationary wrist – there is still some movement evident in the isolation exercise vid as well!.... It seems my wrist/forearm is "extra-involved" when I place and vibrate my pinky too....

Hi Rustam,

Thank you for your comments. I've put the Beth's "pinky buster" exercise in my queue... Beth explains the “hammering” of the pinky (or the heavy drop of it at least), very well in this video. Thanks for the suggestion J

Hi Beth,

Yes, i must confess, i have not shifted yet but I will have no choice soon but to start shifting because the next piece (Minuet in G) involves a shift. I bought the Geringas book on Elke's advice to prepare me for this but when my teacher looked at the first exercise, he felt it was not appropriate for some reason, maybe because it involved shifting from an open string.

I am very glad that you explained the Up and Down the Ladder piece in more detail in your first Geringas video and also explained the thought process behind it and how you can tackle the idea of shifting from an open string. I understand my teacher's apprehension better now but I also know with what "mindset" I have to approach it i.e. open A, first finger then "whole step", moving from first to second position...it seems less daunting when explained like that! Thank you J




Posted: March 9, 2016
Wow, whenever you play it always sounds so lovely. You get such a good sound. I'm glad you also posted without mute, it was so nice to hear.

I've thought hard on what I could comment because you did a great job and you've already gotten lots of great advice and I never feel that qualified.
But lets's try. There's one thing I noticed that I'm not sure if I'm right but wanted to share with you. When you vibrato (which sounds great btw and I'm honestly a little jealous ;)) it seems like you move your wrist more than maybe you should. It's hard to tell from the video, but maybe you're squeezing a bit with your thumb? Especially now that you're going to work on shifting it will be important to have a thumb that can move freely and a non-squeezing left hand. I might be totally wrong and since you sound really nice I'm not sure if it's something that needs to be worked on. 

Rustam Gill
Posted: March 9, 2016
Great playing Nick! There's not much I can see to critique :).

 The only issue I noticed (and this has been pointed out already) is your pinky is a little late because it comes up before coming down. I saw in Beth's response she thought it might be a mental issue. Have you tried the Wohlfahrt study aimed at the fourth finger? I found it very helpful to having my fourth finger quick and strong. I started playing it slowly one note to a bow and looping the measures that focused on the fourth finger. It might zoom in on this issue in your otherwise stellar left hand.

Here is Beth's video on this:

Beth Blackerby
Posted: March 8, 2016
Gosh, Nick. I didn't know you weren't shifting yet. You are most certainly at the level to be doing that! I've posted the first Geringas pieces and plan to do the whole book. Now's the time!

Nick
Posted: March 8, 2016

Thank You Janice!

 


Janice
Posted: March 8, 2016
Beautiful playing as always.  I like the way you have your arm well under the violin and you look very comfortable holding it, it looks like an old friend!  Your bow hand is enviable - relaxed and doing its job.  Very pleased with Beth's response - our own mini masterclass again!  Thank you Nick!

Nick
Posted: March 8, 2016
Mary, that's such a wonderful thing to say, thank you :)

Nick
Posted: March 8, 2016
Yes I know Elke, Beth's two/three subtle suggestions didn't go unnoticed - I think it's time.


Posted: March 8, 2016
I like how I can tell you are playing this even without seeing your name on the post. Your playing has your own beautiful stamp on it. 

Nick
Posted: March 8, 2016

Beth, thank you so much for your video!

I can't tell you how helpful, valuable and valued your response video is.

Regarding the "preparatory gesture" of my pinky, your observation and advice correlates exactly with my teacher's, but what you advise in your video is very helpful in addressing this particular problem I have. I feel like I'm always stretching with the pinky and this disturbs my whole hand frame - I need to have the pinky above the strings with no extraneous movement in the hand when it's time to activate the pinky. My teacher prescribed Schradieck two times daily but I can't wait to try the things you advised and also the "trick" which Dianne shared about moving the first finger back rather than moving my whole hand back for the first finger which inevitably leaves my pinky "reaching"......Particularly for that extended C! 

I really need to practice hovering over the strings and being in position for this note (close to the string so it can just drop) rather than it doing acrobatics over the strings, doing a triple somersault and then landing...invariably too late.

To illustrate your observation about my "late" pinky, my teacher did an experiment: he noticed that my fourth finger was often late and he suspected that it was a mental hurdle rather than a physical one. He had me play the staccato off-string notes from Gavotte from Mignon really slowly, he looked on while I played as if he knew what would happen....we both laughed when my pinky landed late at the slowest tempo! So it's not that my pinky is slow physically, it's that my brain is slow in giving the command! He told me: "leave earlier if you want to catch the bus"!

The open string advice makes a lot of sense in "physics" but also musically, open strings will stick out like a sore thumb if I don't address these notes with a lighter pressure rather than sustain the same pressure as stopped notes.... I came across this "open-string" phenomenon when playing Gossec's Gavotte where I had to "back-off" when playing the open strings. It's funny, when playing this new piece, I forgot to do this!

Thank you for the staccato advice and all the helpful pointers to make improve my playing of this piece, I really appreciate it. I think there is so much I could do to this piece now, so I will work on this - I'm quite excited about putting this all into PRACTISE. Of course, I will post the results!

Thanks a million Beth :)


Elke Meier
Posted: March 8, 2016
Nick, did you hear this very broad hint in Beth's video answer :)? It is time to start shifting... :) :) :)
You really should. It is such a wonderful experience when you feel that finally you start to own all of the fingerboard, not just the first few inches.

Beth Blackerby
Posted: March 8, 2016
This discussion includes members-only video content



Nick
Posted: March 8, 2016
This discussion includes members-only video content

Thank you for your kind comments Dianne.

I recorded a version without the mute. Comments and suggestions welcome.


Dianne
Posted: March 8, 2016
:-O

Nice!! Your playing of this piece is superb! What you are doing with your teacher is really paying off!

Nick
Posted: March 8, 2016
Hi Elke and Maria - thank you for your comments - I will play it without the mute later on today...:)

Maria
Posted: March 8, 2016

Just perfectly played and beautiful, love the modern looking period room and your classic white blouse.

I just wished you have removed the mute and let the sound bounce on those gorgeous white walls.

Elke Meier
Posted: March 8, 2016
Comment: Wow, Nick, that was absolutely beautiful! :)
Critique: I don't have a clue what to critique! Well, apart from one thing: I would have loved to hear it without the mute. It is amazing that with such a heavy mute your violin still sounds so good! What must this piece sound like if you really let it ring out! Very special indeed!