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This discussion includes members-only video content

Hi Beth. I'm an adult beginner who's been playing for 7 months and just finished learning Gossec Gavotte. Based on this video, do you (or anyone else) have any tips or things for me to work on in order to ensure that I'm fully ready to tackle Suzuki book 2? I'm in a remote part of Zimbabwe so I don't really have a teacher and would really appreciate any advice. Thanks

17 Responses
Posted: February 27, 2016
Last Comment: March 2, 2016
Replies


Posted: March 2, 2016
Wow Elke! No aunt's prejudice here. He plays very well. I enjoyed that!

Elke Meier
Posted: March 2, 2016
A jazz piano player? How very interesting! I have a nephew who plays the piano and loves jazz improvisation. He does not play professionally (he just started his university studies in a non-musical field), but I think he is pretty good - well, maybe this is an aunt's prejudice :). Check it out for yourself: This is just some spontaneous playing and some "semester break variations", and this is his Christmas Silent Night version.


Posted: March 2, 2016
Thanks a lot Beth! You've exposed my secret (I'm a jazz piano player), so learning by ear and memorizing does come to me a bit easy. I really want to get better at playing the violin so thanks for these tips and making me aware of my right arm especially! I'll start practising right away.

Beth Blackerby
Posted: March 1, 2016
This discussion includes members-only video content




Posted: March 1, 2016
Elke Meier, looks like I've finally met my fellow African :-) , Hannarette from Namibia! That's quite cool. Nice to meet you Hanarette and thanks for the lovely comments. Thanks again everyone for such a positive vibe here on VL! 


Posted: February 29, 2016
Hi Owen!
You play really well!
I posted the same piece a few weeks ago.
It is very nice to know that I have a neighbor on VL.
I am from Namibia...


Posted: February 29, 2016
Hi Owen! Congrats on posting your first video, and on doing a great job. I think you play amazingly for 7 months. I don't have much to add to the previous comments. I think you're doing really well, and the next step would be to focus on the bow hand a bit. Keep up the good work!


Posted: February 28, 2016
It shows that you have been working very hard.  I don't immediately see any major technical shortfalls, but I'm not a teacher.  I'm sure you can put a little more polish on the piece and move on to Book 2.   Remarkable work, considering your being far away from a teacher.

Hélène Mathers
Posted: February 28, 2016
7 months!!!  Congratulations!  




Posted: February 28, 2016
Very well done 
your intonation was great and you really gave the feeling of the piece;-)


Posted: February 28, 2016
Thanks a lot everyone for taking the time to watch and respond. I was dreading to put up any videos, but now after reading all your comments, I feel quite encouraged. I’ll be sure to try out all your suggestions and follow your advice, starting with some of the videos on VL recommended. Nick, I've just listened to Elman's rendition and it does sound quite hip. Thanks guys!


Posted: February 27, 2016
Bravo Owen, bravo!!!

Nick
Posted: February 27, 2016
Hi Owen,

Welcome to Violinlab

You play really well for 7 months!

This being a Book 1 piece, I think Mr. Shinichi Suzuki intended this to be played on-the-string staccato i.e. a quick bow stroke producing a short sound that starts and finishes on the string. But once you hear Elman's wonderful rendition of this piece (if you haven't heard it already) you will be inspired to play this spiccato!

For the moment, I think staccato bowing for the short notes is fine. Then, when you feel more confident, you can start lifting the bow just a little for each staccato stroke making it spiccato! Practise elliptical "smiles" on the string for spiccato. Beth has a great video on spiccato (240, 241 242).

In my experience, I was well into Book 2 (Gavotte from Mignon) before I started learning spiccato and just had to go back to this piece to try it out. Spiccato gives so much character to both these pieces! Makes the short notes sound very cheeky, which I like!

But I think you are playing this piece with a lot of character with staccato; to give your bow hand time to develop a good, clear staccato - slow the tempo down a little so you can get the clear and sudden stops in the staccato notes. When you play this spiccato, you can speed it up but staccato requires a slower tempo otherwise it is hard to get your bowing right if the tempo is too fast.

Which brings us neatly onto your bow hand. Be sure to do the exercises for the right hand (lesson 81) it is absolutely fundamental to establish a relaxed hand but also to develop the muscles required to carry out both staccato/spiccato/and-any-bow-technique with the correct form! Your bow hand and arm form is fundamental to tone, on-string, off-string techniques and I would advise concentrating 80% of your practise time on your right hand/arm. The wrist, as Dianne mentioned, needs to be more relaxed and practising lesson 81 everyday will go along way into helping you develop a relaxed wrist and consequently, straighter bowing.

As far as expression, you captured the spirit of the piece very well. If you can emphasise some notes like the G on the D string (0.41) with a little more bow, it will make a nice contrast to the next notes and give this piece so much more character. Similarly, at 0.42, these notes are crying out for more bow! This is your chance to get those strings to sing out - take it!

You played this very well and I look forward to hearing your next pieces. You had a nice bow mechanism for your Minuet no.2 and Maccabaeus videos and I think you will make a lot of progress if you incorporate the right hand exercises for a more relaxed wrist - i.e. lesson 81. This one thiing will improve your bowing no end.

Great playing for seven months. Bravo!







Kathleen Lewandowski
Posted: February 27, 2016
In response to Elke's comment about playing this piece in spiccato-yes, that is something to strive for.  But personally I wouldn't feel the pressure to play it this way quite yet.  Why?  Because spiccatto is harder than it looks!  I thought it wouldn't be difficult, but I was wrong.  So I am not putting pressure on myself to play spiccatto in my pieces yet--I am sticking to staccato.  Oh, I am playing around, not in a song, trying to play spicatto,  and when I am able to do it then I will try to play some pieces using this technique.  Of course, it may come easy to you, because obviously you are a very fast learner. 




Beth Blackerby
Posted: February 27, 2016
Wow, Owen. That's fantastic! I can't believe you've only been playing for 7 months. I will make a video response early next week and give you some suggestions.

Elke Meier
Posted: February 27, 2016
Congratulations, Owen! This was really good! I sure wish my fingers were as agile as yours. Mine struggle terribly at those fast notes!

Here are a few observations of areas that I think would be good to work on:
- Watch your left hand. There is quite a bit of extra movement in your left hand. Your fourth finger for example often goes straight up when it is not in use. And when you play first finger the whole hand kind of turns out and is in about a right angle to the neck. See for example your hand position at 1:23, or even more pronounced shortly before 1:42. Watch how the hand is between 1:10 and 1:18 - that looks really good to me, the angle of your hand is stable in that area; not stiff, but stable. It is helpful for consistent intonation if your hand moves as little as possible, and it is good for conservation of energy if your fingers kind of hover over the strings when they are not used. Well, to be honest, your fingers are so fast even with all the extra movement you do, I don't want to know how you will be able to play if you leave this extra movement...
- Bowing: the beginning of Gossec Gavotte should be done in spiccato. Have you watched the off the string class and the spiccato videos in the library (search for the tag word spiccato)? They should be helpful. In some places you play off the string, but most of the time you just do a detache stroke.

It was interesting to see your video tonight of all times. I just finished watching a really interesting documentary called "Kinshasa Symphony" about an orchestra in Kinshasa, and it just blew my mind to see how in spite of all sorts of difficulties with civil war and all the destruction that comes with upheavals like this this orchestra prepared and did a huge concert. Very amazing! And after I finished watching it I was wondering whether we have more people from African countries on violinlab. I know of one VL member from Southern Africa (I think it was Namibia), well, and now I discovered your video - so that is two African countries already :)

Kathleen Lewandowski
Posted: February 27, 2016
Ciao from Italy. I really would have the tendency to just watch your video and not say anything because I don't feel advanced enough, really.  I just want to say 'hi', mostly.  I am also practicing this piece at the moment, I think it is fun. Obviously you are very strong with your left hand...you just whip right through those fast passages! My first impression is that you might want to practice slower, or perhaps other pieces that have a slower tempo like Go Tell Aunt Rhodie for a bit, to get your bowing arm (straighter) and your intonation on a more even skill-level to that of your awesome left hand finger action. Perhaps some long bowing to work on even bowing. I personally think it is a good idea to keep going backwards to revisit the basics because every time you do, you refine your technique. The trick I suppose is to not do it so much or hang out on a piece until you are bored of it.  I am really looking forward to seeing your future videos.