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Elke Meier
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I am working on Gavotte from Mignon - and I decided not to wait until I can do it well before I share it with you but to share it now. This piece will probably go with me for some time to come. But that is no problem. I just love it because it makes my violin ring out like few other pieces I have played. But it also points to some problem areas like few other pieces...

One is landing on the string again without a bounce after an off the string bow. That clean landing I only manage every so often...

Another one is the clean start of a tone without a scratch at the beginning. I can see why Beth in the beginning stages of learning stresses that we have to grab the string. But I think I should be able now to get to the point where I grab the string, and yet not have this scratchy beginning. SOME TIMES far and wide in between I manage to have a very clear beginning without the scratch. I need JUST the right amount of weight in the bow - and oh, I would just love for you to hear it when this happens. The sound is just so beautiful then. However, it is still very much hit and miss and very few times I have been able to produce this consistently (meaning: over a whole measure or two...). But that is one goal I have with this piece: I really want to get to this point where I can control the right bow pressure and speed! Is that a realistic goal?

The same is true for the spiccato: if my left and right hand are coordinated (which they seldom are) and if the right hand then has the right bow weight the spiccato sounds so beautiful. I know it is doable because I have heard it on my very own violin! True, I have heard it only very few times, but it is possible :)! That is another goal for this piece.

I would love some tips on how to work on this kind of bow control.

Sorry for the mistakes in between - I really am still at the beginning with this piece and there was one point where I was completely thrown and I had to cut out a bit to spare you half a minute trying to find my place and the right bow direction again...
Elke Meier
15 Responses
Posted: July 1, 2016
Last Comment: July 5, 2016
Replies

Elke Meier
Posted: July 5, 2016
Ha Treble, now that is a rather different kind of playing it - let's see whether I will have enough years left before me to get to playing it like this :). I guess they have kind of butchered the piece for the Suzuki 2 book to press it all into first position...

But thank you so much for sharing! It really is inspiring to hear our easy pieces (well, they don't seem so easy right now...) played in such context.

Treble
Posted: July 4, 2016
There is a recording of the Gavotte by Pablo Sarasate on Youtube at around the 4:20 mark. I don't know who's playing, but you can get an idea as to the sound. 



Elke Meier
Posted: July 4, 2016
This discussion includes members-only video content

Wow, I am very happy! Look what Beth's instructions from yesterday did! This is just measure 1 and 2 which I think I played now for a good half hour or so... I can sure hear the difference it makes. I don't have to work the violin so hard to make it ring! It rings even more beautifully if I just do this slight u-shape with the bow and make sure that only the very bottom of the u grazes the string. But I think it will need some more hours of practicing just measure 1 and 2 for that to come naturally... Here are a few seconds of tonight's practice, and for comparison I start with measure 1 and 2 from the recording a few days ago... Enjoy! - It brought the value of dedicated bowing practice home to me again.


Nick
Posted: July 3, 2016

Beth,

What a very helpful and insightful video! Thank you :)

I much prefer your way of lighter bow strokes, especially for the "light legato" section and less of a spicatto stroke.

When I was learning this piece, I heard a lot of versions of it (both violin and operatic) but I really liked your interpretation and performance of it and did my best to emulate it. My teacher “reigned me in” i.e. he instructed me to keep my bow strokes shorter (probably because he could see I had no bow control!). But I agree, the elliptical "smile" stroke suits this piece better (musically) than the "U" shaped 'spicatto' stroke (which, for some reason, was easier for me to execute – probably because my teacher had me practising it for etudes!)..

I will incorporate the flatter stroke into my practise now and see how it goes! I love this piece, it has so much potential to help expand and improve on numerous techniques...I don’t think I will ever stop experimenting with this piece. But I could not do this without the direction and instruction provided by you through videos such as this.

And I did the "reach back" for the Bb too! It makes so much sense to shift the hand back - i'm doing this exact shift for my Recital piece….Granted, it’s only to half position but i'm so happy to be doing my first “shift” in a piece....one small shift for me, one giant leap for my technique!… But it never occurred to me to do this small shift for the Mignon, until now!. Another thing to experiment and practise! Thank you so much Beth!



Barb Wimmer
Posted: July 3, 2016
good information from Beth

Elke Meier
Posted: July 3, 2016
Wow, thank you, Beth, for such an in-depth lesson! Actually, I did not try to do spiccato in the beginning section (if the bow bounced in between it was without my permission...!), but a staccato, just a staccato where I lifted the bow off the string to give the violin a chance to really let those beautiful tones ring out. But I think it will be easier with your saucer-shape movement than with what I tried to do!
And thanks a lot for the comment on the Bb! Actually, I have fought my hand in this. It naturally tried to move into half position many times (and then back when the B comes) but for some reason I thought that moving the hand back was wrong and I needed to reach back with the first finger - which was really hard and often I ended up sharp...
I sure look forward to experimenting :) 

Beth Blackerby
Posted: July 3, 2016
This discussion includes members-only video content



Barb Wimmer
Posted: July 3, 2016
You do well.   I didn't notice bouncy bow much but I think squeezing tension the bow and loose but not too loose thumb might help. When I get going I tense up my squeeze on bow and bounce. It is a fine line I guess in everything pressure but not tension. Sounds great

Elke Meier
Posted: July 2, 2016
I think your observation was right, Rustam, with the spiccato notes being easier a bit higher up on the bow. I tried that today. It is a real challenge in this piece to get the right spot in the bow for each thing. Like the trill: that one is easiest close to the frog because of the sixteenth note on the upbow E at the end of the trill. It comes out very clear if I play the trill close to the frog. But for the spiccato I will do what you suggested.

Beth says in the video tutorial that she does not teach this piece with spiccato because students normally have not had much exposure to spiccato by this time. Well, I figured, I have practiced a whole lot of spiccato in connection with the Gossec Gavotte and the etudes I did at that time, so I should be able to try it. I was rather shocked how much I had forgotten since the Gossec Gavotte. But it is coming back quicker than the first time round. - At least that is what I thought until I tried your suggestion, Nick :)! With a quiet elbow it feels like I have never practiced spiccato... But what a neat exercise! I can see how that helps to get the fingers involved!


Rustam Gill
Posted: July 1, 2016
Hi Elke,
Congratulations on figuring out this piece enough that you are working on spiccato. It took me forever to get the intonation right and I am still working on the spiccato. It's a complicated piece and you played it very well.

One thing you could try is play the spiccato 16th notes a little higher on the bow (closer to the middle). I think that might give a lighter sound to that phrase that you're looking for and contrast it with the heavier brush stroke that is closer to the frog for the 8th notes right before (I though those sounded really good btw). 

Btw, I notice that when Beth plays this piece she ignores the spiccato on the16th notes and it sounds great. Still, I would like to be able to play it well as written before I modify it :)

Barb Wimmer
Posted: July 1, 2016
That sounds great Elke, good rhythm pace. And you are consistent and keep going so well and good trills.

Jaime - Orlando , Fl
Posted: July 1, 2016
Bravo Elke! That was my farewell song before I stopped Suzuki method and embarked in other projects! He he
You are doing very good and I applaud you for your intonation and bow control! Spiccato is not an easy movement, yet you are handling it very very well!, especially in front of the camera while filming, which can be in itself nerve wrecking!

I used to play it along with these kids in my practice:

https://youtu.be/GqFyGBcLtig

 Enjoyed it much ! keep it up! :0)


Maria
Posted: July 1, 2016



Elke,

That was a good practice, once you get comfortable with your bowing and fingering it will flow more melodically.


Thanks to Nick and company, they made this piece to another level with their trio concerti and those wonderful masters violins.

Mary Freeman
Posted: July 1, 2016
Really good intonation
It just needs some refining and you have got it
You are well on your way

Nick
Posted: July 1, 2016
Elke, your spicatto has come on leaps and bounds, quite literally!
This piece has so much character when you play it off-the-string! I think Mr. Suzuki never intended for this piece to be played spicatto at this stage so you're already way ahead of the game! Well done!

Your fingers of the right hand are the primary absorbers of any energy in spicatto so you/we have to train them to react to the bow and avoid the bow getting out of control. This is helped immensely, in my experience, by having supple and flexibie fingers through regular bow exercises such as the "spider bow" exercise, et al.
I think there needs to be more looseness in your right wrist, especially when you play spicatto in the middle of the bow, and a more stationary upper arm. (When my teacher sees my upper arm moving too much during spicatto, he holds it still! And then tells me to lean it up against a wall when i'm practising!) Your upper arm is moving fine when you play at the heel/frog for those heavier spicatto stroke i.e. movement here is very much required. But for a delicate spicatto stroke I think you need a looser wrist and a more stationary upper arm.
Other than that, I can't offer anymore by way of qualified critique, your bowing (up bow and down bow) looks fine to me and you are playing the notes very cleanly. At 1.16, I would give more bow, almost to the tip as it's a big change of mood in the piece (and after all those short notes), and then a faster floatier up bow to take you to spicatto territory again. All in all, you've made amazing progress for what is a difficult piece. And you've chosen to take the harder off-the-string route which you should be very proud and happy about.
Beth's rendition of this is the pinnacle and I can't tell you how much I've watched Beth's performance of this piece. I tried to emulate her longer bow strokes but had to "reign in" my bow strokes (shorter spciatto strokes) because I would lose all control of the bow when I tried to do what beth does with the bow. I hope one day I can elongate the strokes and play something which approaches Beth's performance. I still practise this piece and I foresee me practising it for many years to come. There's so much scope for learning technique with this piece, you will have many happy eureka moments with this piece!