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PRACTICE JOURNAL

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Rediscovering a sense of inner calm which I find is important for tension-free playing. What oft happens is that we equate physical tension (tightening the muscles) with musical tension - certainly have found myself doing so in the past and sometimes even now... Emotional struggle and musical resistance (whether with respect to harmony, gestures, or texture) seems best realized when the body engages in a clear sense of effort and release and the mind engages in a clear sense of proper bow weight, speed, and soundpoint.

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Started to incorporate Jacques Féréol Mazas’ Etude no. 1 into my maintenance routine - seemingly simple, but not quite. A good prep for a work like Schubert’s Fantasy, perhaps? Focusing on especially the beginning, middle, and end of each note 😁. In large part, it is a balancing act- to start a note with a cushioned vowel sound, the third finger / pinky / thumb are at the forefront of one’s consciousness. To evenly expand and taper off each note, and overlap the end of that note with the beginning of the next note, the fingers are encouraged to be aware of what specific contact points they have with the bow stick (either the top or the side).

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Right hand is definitely leading the left hand, in my case - this mellows down my vibrato, which has the tendency to become too quick for its own good and the good of the Largo character in this Etude.

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#violin#violinist#mazas


Another fun 15 minute session of exploring the relationship between intonation and vibrato with Pierre Rode’s Caprice no. 10.

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Both vibrato and intonation source their sense of stability from allowing rebound movement to be at play. There should always be micro vibrations within each note- this is a physical result of the physics of the strings, which are suspended over the fingerboard (supported by nut and bridge). If the string is depressed towards the fingerboard and released, it will spring back to its original position. When the finger, with gravity and without excessive pressure, falls on the string, the finger will automatically rebound along with it. Letting this automatic rebound movement come through without active control allows for greater security.

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Intonation in passages with a flurry of notes with uniform rhythm asks for an allowance of rebound movement as well. Likening the finger joints to the leg joints help- the top knuckle is the ankle; second knuckle the knee; and base knuckle the hip joint. Just as in walking / running, the knee allows for extension and flexion of the leg; the ankle allows for up and down movement of the foot. If one excessively bends/locks the knee, the ankle stiffens and loses stability. Quite similar to how the fingers work- if the second knuckle is too upright or flat, the top knuckle can withstand only so much pressure before it loses stability. A rounded arc (both tactile and visual) needs to be found, and the degree to which this arc is curved depends on each person’s hand...!

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Anyway, I had some fun looking at how my fingers actively exert and passively respond!

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#violin #violinist #pierrerode


Trying one of Jascha Heifetz’s warmups, with a slight alteration- apparently many of his students used this to stay agile and warmed up, regardless of how cold a venue was! Could be a good option if one finds oneself unable to warm up audibly before a performance.

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It involves the fingers 1) in a neutral, somewhat curled position, 2) retracting actively and swiftly, which engages the extensor muscles, 3) letting them rebound forwards into a soft fist, which somewhat engages the flexors. The fingers are, to the best that they can, quite close together. The original exercise involves an active pushing forwards- which is also really effective. A few minutes in, and the hand does feel preliminarily warmed up...! The hands strike a sweet spot between floppy, completely relaxed muscles and tightened muscles.

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Featuring a sneeze as well...

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#violin#violinist

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