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*Silent video* Mindful art, artful mind - the first exercise from Dounis’ Daily Dozen has been a trusty companion since a number of years because it allows one to develop kinesthesia, or sense of movement. Kinesthesia I’ve realized promotes a holistic approach to playing an instrument, as it incorporates mindfulness and inclusive awareness of the quality of movement in each joint of your body. There are two parts of this exercise that don’t require the bow- they target the two basic left hand frames: 1) One that runs transversely down across the fingerboard from lower to upper finger, and 2) the Geminiani chord, which runs transversely up across the fingerboard. The latter hand structure is effective for developing a hand frame that is positioned in favor of the weaker fingers- what we know as a balanced hand frame!

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Spending 5 minutes daily on these exercises help develop mindful finger independence, a balanced hand frame, and suppleness. The main things to consider I find are using cushioned finger pads, minimal finger pressure (half-harmonic), having a mobile thumb, and treating finger lifting as an active motion (against gravity) and placing as a passive, rebound motion (refraining from hammering down the fingers). This allows one to feel the effort and release that is critical for tension-free playing!

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Clips on silent to prevent aural distraction and encourage focus on seeing the quality of the movement 😊! Exercises are from pages 234/35 from the Dounis Collection.

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#violin#violinist#dounis#小提琴

Updated: Dec 20, 2020


Another session with a possible encore selection- Paganini’s Caprice no. 16! Deceptively simple, but actually quite a handful for coordination and highlighting the rhythmic contours of the caprice, as indicated by the forte emphases.

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A balanced left hand frame coupled with minimal finger pressure I find is key - I’m experimenting around with nearly horizontal finger placement, rather than the common diagonal placement. The finger pad indentations made by the string almost look like one line running laterally across...! This helps with more efficient finger movement and mobility in certain extensions.

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Practicing in triplets repetitions per note also helps train the left hand to be led with the bow- during this version/exercise (2nd clip), the left hand is slower than the right hand, whilst the latter hand still follows the down and up bow pattern per note.

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As for intonation, I find it helpful to practice very softly, with each finger of the left hand easing (or rather, even at times gliding!) into its corresponding note. Imagining a small semi-semi tone slide into the actual note helps realize this easing in movement. After all, intonation is all about instantaneous micro adjustments.

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And... Here I am again with another piece of practice wear from @twosetapparel- basically, the T-shirt quips, “Don’t practice. Geniuses are born, not created”. **Disclaimer: it isn’t quite true.

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#violin#violinist#paganini


Updated: Dec 28, 2020


Variation 8 of Paganini’s Caprice no. 24 is a great study for swift chords! Playing quick triple stops involves the challenge of moving the bow in swift arcs, rather than vertical hits (much like on the piano) and horizontal lines.

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Some main takeaways: 1) Playing near the frog, with full hair- since a triple stop requires bow weight three times the amount for a single note at a constant dynamic, playing near the frog allows one to leverage the natural heaviness of this part of the bow. To counteract the tendency to hack the bow on the string because of the heaviness, one plays with full hair. This allows the fingers to extend rather than collapse into the bow stick, in turn lessening the weight of the hand transferred onto the stick. One focuses in on the contact between the finger pads and the side of the bow instead of the inside creases of the fingers and the top of the bow stick.

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2) Playing in swift arcs rather than lines- unless there’s an accent, playing in “~” arcs (convex curve plus an upward arc like a sideways “s”) on down-bow chords and concave arcs on up-bow encourages the hand / arm to engage in a free rotational movement. This creates space for momentum before the bow actually lands on the string for each note.

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3) Sensitivity to soundpoint - with the ability to play with full hair at the frog, it is often necessary to play somewhere between the middle and the bridge! Helps us achieve the robust, thick sound that we need at times.

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4) Left hand maintains softness - when the right hand is tasked to increase the bow weight for triple stops, the left hand often reactively tense up. Cushioned finger pad placement, minimal finger pressure, and a balanced hand frame in favor of the weaker fingers allow the left hand to facilitate the right hand.

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...it’s still a work in progress for me - realized that in the slow motion video, there are moments here and there where I can ease up and adjust the LH fingers more nimbly 🪱

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#violin#violinist#paganini

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