Practicing is a key issue in developing students as musicians. Children normally will not do this on their own until they're in their late teens. So it is up to teacher and parents to insist. There is a very useful book that parents find helpful; it is available on Kindle on Amazon.com. You do not have to have a Kindle to read it, but can download it to your PC or laptop with the free software available on Amazon. I also have a copy in the studio, should you care to examine it:
Develop a set time during the day when the student will spend 10 -20 minutes every day, with the instrument;
Design a practice area for your child (or yourself) which includes a chair, their music stand, their music, and perhaps some decoration, like a mobile, posters, etc.;
Remember that brushing teeth (for example), is not optional and neither is "spending some time with the instrument";
Slower is better: slow practice is much more effective than simply running through their week's assignment without reflection;
Most of my students have four or five books or printed materials to work on each week; please don't feel that everything has to be practiced, every practice time, but rather, divide the materials up through the week (children will need help with this):
Remember that Suzuki-inspired lessons are very different than the lessons most of us adults had: the student/parent/teacher triangle (the "Suzuki triangle") means that everyone works together for the good of the child; parents should observe the lessons carefully (many take notes) and supervise the home practice. It's not the same, at all, as the old "drop the student off and pick them up afterwards" type of study.
This is a collection of symbols indicating non-traditional ways of creating sounds on traditional stringed instruments. Aside from the Bartók pizz—which has moved into general practice—the entries are from Penderecki's,
Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima.
Bartók pizz: Also called snap pizz. Right hand pulls the string away from the fingerboard and releases, causing a snapping sound. Bartók pizz.
sharpen a quarter tone
sharpen three quarter tones
flatten a quarter tone
flatten three quarter tones
highest note of the instrument (no definite pitch)
play between bridge and tailpiece
arpeggio on four strings behind the bridge
play on the tailpiece (arco) by bowing the tailpiece at an angle of 90° to its longer axis
play on the bridge by bowing the wood of the bridge at a right angle at its right side
Percussion effect: strike the upper sounding board of the violin with the nut or the fingertips
several irregular changes of bow
very slow vibrato with a 1/4 tone frequency difference produced by sliding the finger
very rapid non rhythmisized tremelo
ord. - ordinario; cancel previous special instructions
s.p. - sul ponticello; play on the bridge
s.t. - sul tasto; play on the fingerboard
c.l. - col legno; play with the wood of the bow
l. batt. - legno battuto; play by striking the wood
At first glance, these last two entries (col legno and legno battuto), seem to be the same thing. In the Threnody score, however, the legno battuto is associated with "arpeggio on four strings behind the bridge"
There is another modern construction of this sort, the col legno tratto ("drawn with the wood"). This is much less common, and the plain marking col legno is invariably interpreted to mean battuto rather than tratto. The sound produced by col legno tratto is very quiet, with an overlay of white noise, but the pitch of the stopped note can be clearly heard. [Ref: Wikipedia: Col Legno.]
Other, more traditional techniques which are used in this piece are the glissandi and the subito dynamic markings.
m. 6 texture change
m. 7 first overlap of texture, imitation in inversion
m. 9 misprint, 3rd bass part, 3rd note; should be, highest pitch
m. 10 change
m. 11 gesture which expands and contracts
m. 12-13 imitation in retrograde
m. 15 internal cadence before next section
m. 16 change
m. 17 ascending and descending gestures
m. 18 change
m. 20 very big change, five minute point
m. 20 Big Canon (cosmic size); Voice = Choir 1, basses imitation vls;
In meter, like traditional notation (staff lines, rests)
m. 38 Choir 2 comes in (Gabrielli; St. Marks)
m. 44 Choir 3 enters, not complete canonic imitation
m. 51 Retransition
m. 56 Overlap, unpitches special effects [A]
m. 62 [A] for sure, back to graphic notation
m. 63 imitation in retrograde
m. 69 Tonic cadence
Bowling Green State University (BGSU) Puts the Violin in the Spotlight for the 2014-15 Year
Author: Dr. Penny Thompson Kruse
The 2014-15 academic year at Bowling Green State University College of Musical Arts, Bowling Green Ohio, will showcase numerous outstanding violinists in performances and mini-residencies. The first event will be a recital by Greg Fulkerson, Violin Professor at Oberlin and NYU, and BGSU pianist Thomas Rosenkranz on Sept. 16, 8 p.m., Bryan Recital Hall of the Moore Musical Arts Center. The theme of the recital is “Beyond Minimalism” with repertoire by Philip Glass, Stephen Dembski, John Adams, Peter Flint Jr. , Andrew Shapiro and Conrad Cummings.
Former Assistant Concertmaster of the Minnesota Orchestra Stephanie Arado will be a guest artist-in-residence from Sept. 22-26. In addition to teaching individual violin lessons, she will give a public master class on Sept. 23, 2:30-5 p.m., Bryan Recital Hall and perform a recital that evening at 8 p.m. with BGSU pianist Laura Melton in the same venue. Repertoire will include works by Stravinsky, Mozart, Adams and Szymanowski. Arado will also teach Audition Repertoire for the Violin on Wednesday, Sept. 24, 3:30 p.m., in Room 3010 of the Moore Musical Arts Center.
Each year, BGSU hosts the New Music Festival. Begun in 1990, this annual event celebrates the contemporary arts through concerts, panels, art exhibitions, seminars, master classes and papers. This year’s festival from Oct. 15-18 will include the BGSU Philharmonia Concert, under the direction of Emily Freeman Brown, featuring Romanian violinist Ioana Galu performing BGSU composer Marilyn Shrude's Concerto for Violin and Orchestra Libro d'Oro on Oct. 18, 8 p.m., in Kobacker Hall. Galu is a BGSU alumna who earned the Doctorate in Contemporary Music in 2012.
The second violinist who will be an artist-in-residence is Canadian David Gillham from the University of British Columbia and a member of the Arianna String Quartet. He will be at BGSU from Oct. 27-30, performing a recital on Oct. 27, 8 p.m., in Bryan Recital Hall and a master class on Oct. 28, 2:30-5 p.m., in the same venue. On Oct. 29, 3:30 p.m., in Room 3010, Gillham will teach Audition Repertoire for the Violin.
From Nov. 4-8, Violinist Caroline Chin will be in residence. She will give a public master class on Nov. 4, 2:30-5 p.m., in Bryan Recital Hall. On Nov. 5, 3:30 p.m., Room 3010, she will teach Audition Repertoire for the Violin. As a part of BGSU’s Fall String Festival for high school string players on Nov. 8, the BGSU Philharmonia will feature Chin in Saint-Saens’ Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso in a concert at 8 p.m. in Kobacker Hall. Described by the Chicago Sun Times as “…riveting and insightful, who lights up in passages of violin pyrotechnics,” Chin has an extensive career as a soloist and chamber music. She is also a proponent of new music.
The MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music sponsors a concert series entitled Music at the Forefront. On Nov. 13, at 8 p.m. in Bryan Recital Hall, the Fidelio Trio will perform a concert. The group consists of Irish musicians’ violinist Darragh Morgan and pianist Mary Dullea and Scottish cellist Robin Michael.
The spring semester will begin with more great chamber music on Jan. 12, 8 p.m., in Bryan Recital Hall. The Prima Trio features violinist Gulia Gurevich, clarinetist, Boris Allakhverdyan and pianist Anastasia Dedik.
The BGSU Philharmonia is fortunate to have Noah Bendix-Balgley, concertmaster of the Pittsburgh Symphony and first concertmaster designate of the Berlin Philharmonic, and Randolph Kelly, principal violist of the Pittsburgh Symphony perform Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante on Feb. 7, at 8 p.m., in Kobacker Hall.
Guest violinist residencies continue with Martin Norgaard from Feb. 16-20. Norgaard is the Music Education String Specialist at Georgia State University. He also publishes the Jazz Wizard series for Mel Bay. He has done extensive research on the brain and improvisation. As a part of his residency, he will give improvisation lessons to BGSU string students. On Feb. 18, 10 p.m., he will perform with the BGSU Jazz Faculty at 149 North in Bowling Green. Talented high school students interested in alternative styles may submit recordings for an opportunity to play for Martin Norgaard to
firstname.lastname@example.org by Jan. 15.
Music at the Forefront presents another exciting program featuring composer Neil Rolnick, violinist Jennifer Choi, and pianist Kathleen Supove. Choi and Supove will perform Rolnick’s music, including Hammer & Hair and Dynamic RAM & Concert Grand, Fiddle Faddle, and solo laptop works on Mar. 2, 8 p.m., at the Clazel Theater, 127 N. Main, Bowling Green.
Brian Lewis, Professor of Violin at the University of Texas at Austin will be at BGSU from Mar. 2-6 for his Guest Violin Residency. Pianist Thomas Rosenkranz will join Lewis on Mar. 3, 8 p.m., Wolfe Center for the Arts, Conrad Room. Lewis is also the Director of the Starling-DeLay Symposium on Violin Studies that is held at The Juilliard School every other year. Master classes and other events will be arranged. Talented high school students may submit recordings for an opportunity to play for Brian Lewis to email@example.com by Feb. 1.
The final Guest Violin Residency wi\ll feature Katie Lansdale from The Hartt School of Music between Apr. 6-10. Lansdale will perform a recital on Apr. 10, 8 p.m. Bryan Recital Hall, with BGSU pianist Robert Satterlee. Master classes and other events will be arranged. Lansdale has recorded and performed live the complete Solo Works for Violin by J.S. Bach. Joseph Magil remarked, American Record Guide, May/June 2002, "One of the most intelligent sets of the Sonatas and Partitas that I have heard." Lansdale won the Schlosspreis for Performance at the Salzburg Mozarteum for her performance of Bach.
Many people believe that if they aren't good at singing on pitch (or hearing minute differences in pitch) then they must be tone deaf. I have had many students come to take lessons and when asked to tune their instrument or match a pitch, tell me that they think they're tone deaf: I have yet to encounter a student who truly is.
Lyman Bodman, in his Essays on Violin Pedagogy, wrote "No one, but one one, who cannot hear melodic intervals can play a violin in tune." So if hearing melodic intervals is so important to performing our art we must understand the relationship to tone deafness and pitch recognition in order to be effective teachers.
What is tone deafness?
Tone deafness is the term used to describe someone who cannot distinguish between musical pitches due to a medical or genetic problem. While I do not know statistically the number of people who actually have this disorder, the number is relatively low in comparison to the number of people who have trouble matching pitch. True tone deafness is usually accompanied by the inability to repeat back rhythms or recognize songs. If you can recognize the tune Mary Had a Little Lamb and can differentiate it from the Hallelujah Chorus you most likely aren't tone deaf.
If I'm not tone deaf why can't I sing on pitch or play in tune?
Simple - you have not had the proper training in order to do so! Singing on pitch or playing in tune is a skill just like riding a bike or swimming. One must learn how to do it. Generally people will site their genes as contributing to their lack of ability to match pitch. While genes may affect a person's natural ability to learn this skill, your genes are not the only, or most important factor.
Most likely if you grew up in a family that claims tone deafness, you were surrounded by people singing off key. Therefore this is what you learned how to do as well. Just like a child imitates speech so they imitate music. If your mother sang off-key lullabies to you as an infant, then your sense of pitch from this early age was trained accordingly. Conversely, those children who grew up with musical parents, or at least ones that could match pitch relatively accurately, also learned to do so. Think about how your family sang Happy Birthday as a child. Did it sound like a choir of angels or more like a cacophony of sound? My family sang Happy Birthday in 4 part harmony - I thought this was the norm until I experienced birthday parties outside my home!
Is matching pitch something that can be learned?
Yes! And you may be surprised at how quickly you are able to make significant changes in this area even as an adult. Keep in mind that your ability to match pitch is on a sliding scale. Some start closer to singing the correct pitch than others. It's all a matter of working from where you're at on the scale and improving your pitch to be as close to true pitch as possible.
If you're a parent of a young child and are helping them practice keep in mind that you are learning this skill right along with your child. Just because you're an adult doesn't mean you should be better at matching pitch. If you never learned how to do it you will have trouble helping decipher if your child is playing in tune or not. That's OK - you will learn and grow in this area together!
I may be the only one who was confused about this. I think, when I was a child, I somehow thought the sonatas (for example) were transcriptions of, perhaps, the other two...there weren't any recordings or scores available back then. Indoor plumbing and electricity, yes, but no internet, color tv, ITunes, cell phones, etc.
What I've discovered is that many students and even players are initially not aware of the three primary offerings; that is, the 'cello suites, the unaccompanied works for violin, and the violin sonatas with keyboard. In each case, whatever the original instrument, the work is transcribed for the other. (See below). It is, I think, important to let students know that these are three completely different sets of works.
• Bach Cello Suites: orig. for cello, transcribed for violin and viola:
Most scholarship indicates that you have to put in 10,000 hours of practice to attain mastery in any field—chess, martial arts, programming,
learning a language, learning an instrument. By "mastery," one means the very high level skills that world-class professionals acquire, or
professionals in the music business. That's about 3 1/2 hours a day for about eight years. A little less practice and some days off would
put it at 10 years. And 10 years happens to be the number cited repeatedly when you examine the histories of such people: nearly always 10 years.
You can get pretty good at the violin in five, though. But that's with very consistent practice and a good teacher. There are no shortcuts,
and it has nothing to do with talent, genius, genetics, or anything but a deep passion and commitment.
I just discovered Robert Greene's book. I had read his 48 Laws of Power, The Art of Seduction, and The 33 Strategies of War
but, while interesting, never found a way to effectively apply their precepts. But Mastery is a different matter. Best book I've read in ages.
Particularly if you combine it—as I have—with books on programming, animal rights and vegetarianism, atheism, and science
(Dawkins, Harris, neuroscience, Sagan and Michio Kaku). Who says senescence has to be dull?
So many people want to play the violin but are not aware of how long it actually takes. In the video,
"Art of the Violin,"
Mr. Perlman, who is one of the narrators (along with Hillary Hahn), remarks that by the time you learn to play the violin,
you're using a walker. He's right.
This biography of Rabin by Anthony Feinstein—author of books on multiple sclerosis, post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury—puts the reader in the mid-20th century classical music world of memorable string players, pianists and conductors, including (to name just a few): Elman, Francescatti, Galamian, Gingold, Heifetz, Huberman, Kaplan, Lack, Menuhin, Morini, Oistrakh, Piatigorsky, Ricci, Rose, Stern, Szigeti. The biography clearly outlines Michael Rabin's development musically and emotionally.
An underlying concern addressed in the biography is the work ethic required to develop the technique and repertoire at the level Rabin accomplished, versus the artist's emotional life. It can be argued that, while Rabin loved performing, he may have been exploited without reference to his socialization and emotional needs. His sister—while insisting the children were not "beaten"—nevertheless did say that their mother hit them, and certainly Michael was forced to practice and also isolated from other children, whisked away after orchestra rehearsals, and totally controlled by his mother.
When Michael was seven he found a half size violin at their friends, the Spielberg's home; he had already been studying piano with his mother, Jeanne, for a year. His lessons began with his father, George, a violinist with the New York Philharmonic. When it became clear that a new teacher was required, he played for Galamian who initially had Micheal study with a Galamian assistant, Yuri Osmolovky. Details about Galamian's life are fascinating to read, including a brief stint in a Russian prison, "presumanbly for the bourgeois sin of having wealthy parents." (p. 19-20) The relationship between the artist and his teacher was intense and significant; Galamian invited Michael to Meadowmount, which Michael first attended in 1944.
Rabin's success as an international concertizing performer and recording artist is based on several factors in his personal history: (1) being born in a musical family—mother was a pianist, dad a violinist—and thus exposure to music from infancy; (2) prodigous innate musical ability; (3) intense work ethic which included practice from six to nine hours a day; and (4) Galamian's technical system, a comprehensive system of scales and arpeggios in three or four octaves, and études, beginning with Dont Op. 37, Kreutzer, Fiorillo, Rode, Gavinies, Dont Op. 35, Wieniawski and Paganini caprices. [Dont Op. 37 and Op. 35 were particularly important to Galamian, as his lineage was Mostras-Auer-Dont.]
In the course of his extremely demanding concert schedule, Rabin kept very clear, meticulous records of his travel; airline, mileage, hours, and concerts. The author characterized these entries as "obsessive" and "compulsive" (p. 43). The number of concerts and countries he traveled is really astonishing. But throughout all that, his early career and successes, he had no personal friends, no peer contact, but relied on letters from Galamian, Francescatti, Kaplan and Michael's sister and parents, to assure him he was loved and missed while away. Kaplan and Michael's sister, Bertine, were his only really close friends, and when each of them married, Michael backed away.
While Rabin almost invariably got good reviews and was nearly univerally admired for his virtuosity, his mother never seemed to positively comment on his successes (to him); she was the ruler in the family, even of her husband. An incident is mentioned where she was observed, chasing her husband out of the house, brandishing a frying pan, stating that she "was going to get him." Michael was lonely and came to resent his mother's control. According to the author, it could be argued that even Galamian exploited him, reveling in Michael's success without reference to Michael's emotional needs. In his late teens he found himself, like so many other child prodigies (Argerich, Midori, Starker), facing the sacrifices he made for his career: "A childhood has slipped by unrecognized, friendships never cultivated, education neglected." (p. 116)
Many students of this era are aware of the tragic nature of Michael Rabin's untimely death. There were warning signs of an impending difficulty; Rabin had on occasion an intense fear of falling off the stage. In Israel, for example, he refused to perform until a tarp was placed over the orchestra pit, and often, he performed from an unusual spot in referernce to the orchestra, deep into the orchestra, rather than standing directly to the left of the conductor. He sometimes performed sitting down, as well, which was unusual. As a celebrity, it was easy to see numerous doctors and he became addicted to prescription drugs, both sedatives and stimulants. His playing suffered—intonation problems, memory slips, concerts "better forgotten." (p. 176) After a very shaky and embarrassing concert in Los Angeles, Michael overdosed on the plane to his next gig and ended up in Mount Sinai Hospital.
What followed was an attempt to rebuild his career. After detox, he moved out of his parents' house—though not very far away—stayed a second time in hospital for drug addiction, started psychotheraphy, and began concertizing again. It is good to read that, by the mid-1960's, most critics felt that Rabin's "interpretative powers had finally caught up with his formidable technique." (p. 195). However, his concert schedule—particularly outside of the United States—was much reduced, and recording was basically stalled, mainly because he was not proactive and "had no business acumen." (p. 203) And drug usage reappeared, with faulty performances.
Though Micheal Rabin didn't die from a drug overdose, nor a suicide attempt (as speculated by some) the use of drugs contributed to his death; his girlfriend, June, found him, deceased, in his apartment. It looked as if he was about to have lunch, but slipped on the newly waxed floor, hit his head
on the wooden seat of a chair and cracked his skull. No overdose, but according to the coronor, drugs were found in his system and in his apartment. He had fooled everyone about his drug use. His memorial service was attended by a large crowd, including such artists as Itzhak Perlman and Van Cliburn. Perlman's recordings of the Paganini Caprices on the Angel label were dedicated to Rabin.
The members of the orchestra are divided into four sections. These are woodwinds, the strings, the brass, and the percussion. There's also someone standing in front of all these other folks playing no instrument at all. This would be the conductor. It is generally required that the conductor is required to make musical decisions and to hold all of the instruments together in a cohesive interpretation of any given work. Not so. Rather, the conductor is necessary because the four groups would rather eat Velveeta than have anything to do with someone from another section. And, as we know, musicians are quite serious about their food.
Why all the animosity? Before I begin my explanation, let me set the record straight in plain English about some of the characteristics which typify the four groups.
Woodwind players have IQs in the low- to mid- genius range. Nerds with coke-bottle glasses and big egos, blowers tend to be extremely quiet, cowering behind bizarre-looking contraptions—their instruments—so nobody will notice them. It is often difficult to discern whether a wind player is male or female.
String players are neurotic prima donnas who won't even shake your hand for fear of permanent injury. A string player will never look you directly in the eye and they never bathe carefully ... or often. Brass players are loud-mouthed drunkards who bully everyone with the possible and occasional exception of a stray percussionist. They like to slick their hair back. Nobody knows why.
Percussionists are insensitive oafs who constantly make tasteless jokes at the expense of the strings and woodwinds. They look very good in concert attire but have the worst table manners of all musicians. They are always male, or close enough.
Now, is it any wonder orchestra members have little to do with anyone outside of their own section? For the answer to this and other pertinent questions we will need to examine the individual instrument and the respective—if not respected—players within each section.
Oboe players are seriously nuts. They usually develop brain tumors from the extreme air pressure built up over the years of playing this rather silly instrument. Oboists suffer from a serious Santa Claus complex, spending all their waking hours carving little wooden toys for imaginary children, although they will tell you they are putting the finishing touches on the world's greatest reed. Oboists can't drive and always wear clothes one size too small. They all wear berets and have special eating requirements which are endlessly annoying and which are intended to make them seem somewhat special.
English horn players are losers although they dress better then oboists. They cry at the drop of a beret.
Bassoon players are downright sinister. They are your worst enemy, but they come on so sweet that it's really hard to catch them at their game. Here's an instrument that's better seen than heard. Bassoon players like to give the impression that theirs is a very hard instrument to play, but the truth is that the bassoon only plays one or two notes per piece and is therefore only heard for a minute in any given evening. However, in order to keep their jobs—their only real concern—they act up a storm doing their very best to look busy.
It takes more brawn, and slightly less brain, to play contrabassoon. They are available at pawnshops in large numbers—the instruments as well as the players—and play the same three or four numbers as the tuba, although not quite as loud or beautiful.
Okay, now we come to the flute. Oversexed and undernourished is the ticket here. The flute player has no easier time of getting along with the rest of the orchestra than anyone else, but that won't stop them from sleeping with everyone. Man and woman alike, makes no difference. The bass flute is not even worth mentioning. Piccolos, on the other hand, belong mainly on the fifty yard line of a football field where the unfortunate audience can maintain a safe distance.
The clarinet is, without a doubt, the easiest of all orchestral instruments to play. Clarinets are cheap, and the reeds are literally a dime a dozen. Clarinetists have lots of time and money for the finest wines, oriental rugs, and exotic sports cars. They mostly have no education, interest, or talent in music, but fortunately for them they don't need much. Clarinets come in various sizes and keys—nobody knows why. Don't ask a clarinetist for a loan, as they are stingy and mean. Some of the more talented clarinets can learn to play the saxophone. Big deal.
Let's continue now with the real truth about ... the strings:
We begin with the string family's smallest member: the violin. The violin is a high-pitched, high-tension instrument. It's not an easy instrument to play. Lots of hard music is written for this instrument. Important things for a violinist to keep in mind are: Number one—the door to your studio should be left slightly open so that everyone can hear your brilliant practice sessions. Number two: you should make disparaging remarks about the other violinists whenever possible, which is most of the time. And number three: you should tell everyone how terribly valuable your instrument is until they drool.
The viola is a large and awkward instrument, which when played, sounds downright disgusting. Violists are the most insecure members of the string section. Nothing can be done about this. Violists don't like to be made fun of and therefore find ways of making people feel sorry for them. They were shabby clothes so that they'll look as if they've just been dragged under a train. It works quite well.
People who play the cello are simply not good looking. They have generally chosen their instrument because, while in use, the cello hides 80% of its player's considerable bulk. Most cellists are in analysis which won't end until they can play a scale in tune or, in other words, never. Cellists wear sensible shoes and always bring their own lunch.
Double bass players are almost completely harmless. Most have worked their way up through the ranks of a large moving company and are happy to have a secure job in a symphony orchestra or anywhere. The fact that it takes at least ten basses to make an audible sound tends to make these simple-minded folks disappear into their woodwork, but why do they drive such small cars?
Harpists are gorgeous. And they always know it. They often look good into their late eighties. Although rare as hen's teeth, male harpists are equally beautiful. Harpists spend their time perfecting their eye-batting, little-lost-lamb look so they can snare unsuspecting wind players into carrying their heavy gilded furniture around. Debussy was right—harpists spend half their life tuning and the other half playing out of tune.
Pianists in the symphony orchestra work the least and complain the most. They have unusually large egos and, because they can only play seated, also have the biggest butts. When they make mistakes, which is more often than not, their excuse is that they have never played on that particular piano before. Oh, the poor darlings.
Trumpet players are the scum of the earth. I'll admit, though, they do look good when they're all cleaned up. They'll promise you the world, but they lie like a cheap rug. Sure, they can play soft and pretty during rehearsal, but watch out come concert time! They're worse than lawyers, feeding off the poor, defenseless, weaker members of the orchestra and loving every minute of it. Perhaps the conductor could intercede? Oh, I don't think so.
Trombone players are generally the nicest brass players. However, they do tend to drink quite heavily and perhaps don't shine the brightest headlights on the highway, but they wouldn't hurt you and are the folks to call with all your pharmaceutical questions. They don't count well, but stay pretty much out of the way anyway. Probably because they know just how stupid they look when they play. It's a little-known fact that trombone players are unusually good bowlers. This is true.
The French horn. I only have two words of advice: stay away. Horn players are piranhas. They'll steal your wallet, lunch, boyfriend, or wife or all the above given half a chance or no chance at all. They have nothing to live for and aren't afraid of ruining your life. The pressure is high for them. If they miss a note, they get fired. If they don't miss a note, they rub your nose in it and it doesn't smell so sweet.
The kind-hearted folks who play the tuba are good-looking and smart. They'd give you the shirt off their back. The tuba is one of the most interesting to take in the bath with you. It's a crying shame that there's only one per orchestra. Would that it could be different.
And finally—the percussion:
These standoffish fools who get paid perfectly good money for blowing whistles and hitting things that don't deserve the considerable space they are allotted on the stage. Aside from the strange coincidence that all percussionists hail from the Deep South, another little known, but rather revealing fact, is there are no written percussion parts in the standard orchestral repertory. Percussion players do have music stands and they do use them—to look at girlie magazines. Percussionists play whatever and whenever they damn well feel like it and it's always too loud! The ones with a spark of decency and intelligence play timpani, or kettle drums.
Most percussionists are deaf, but those who play kettle drums pretend to tune their instruments for the sake of the ignorant and easily duped conductor.
The guy with the short nose who plays the cymbals is no Einstein, but he's also one of the best guys to share a room with on tour. Cymbal players don't practice—I guess they figure it's bad enough to have to listen to those things at the concert.
Percussionists pretend to have lots of kids whose toys can be seen quite often shaken, dropped, or manhandled to great effect. Whole percussion sections can be seen and now and then on various forms of public transportation, where they practice getting up and down as a group. This represents the only significant challenge to a percussionist.
And that just about does it. I trust that this little tour has enlightened you just a little bit to the mysterious inner world of the symphony orchestra. This world, one which is marked by the terrible strain of simple day-to-day survival, is indeed not an easy one. Perhaps now you will be a bit more understanding of the difficulties which face a modern-day concert artist. And so the next time you find yourself at the symphony, take a moment to look deeply into the faces of the performers on the stage and imagine how much more difficult their lives are than yours.
This is surely what's on their minds ... if anything.
New ed., Introduction by Sally Thomas. Paperback. Publication Date: March 21, 2013. A celebrated instructor presents his philosophy of teaching and practice methods, including the appropriate combination of technique and interpretation. The longtime Juilliard professor incorporates aspects of both the Russian and French schools in a system both ingenious and logical. Topics include posture, vibrato, intonation, bowing, double stops, and many other subjects.
The following article (please see, below) is obviously very important to string players and violinists, in particular. The article was written by Judith Karp "who writes frequently about music, spent a summer studying violin at Meadowmount."
I was at Manhattan School of Music in 1969, I think it was, and my friend from Tulsa, Maryanne Griffin, who was studying at Juilliard with Mr. Galamian, brought him to the MSM concert and introduced him to me at the break. So I had the pleasure of having met him socially, but not studying with him, unfortunately.
Below is my best effort to transcribe this article. If you would like to add photographs or other links to this page, please contact me.
Ivan Alexander Galamian [January 23, 1903 to April 14, 1981] was an influential Armenian violin teacher of the twentieth century.
He was born in Tabriz, Iran, but his family soon emigrated to Moscow, Russia. Galamian studied violin at the School of the Philharmonic Society there with Konstantin Mostras (a student of Leopold Auer) until his graduation in 1919. He moved to Paris, France, during the Bolshevik Revolution and studied under Lucien Capet in 1922 and 1923. In 1924 he debuted in Paris. Due to a combination of nerves, health, and a fondness for teaching, Galamian eventually gave up the stage in order to teach full-time. He became a faculty member of the Russian Conservatory in Paris, where he taught from 1925 until 1929. His earliest pupils in Paris include Vida Reynolds, the first woman in the Philadelphia Orchestra's first violin section, and Paul Makanowitzky.
In 1937 Galamian moved permanently to the United States of America. In 1941 he married Judith Johnson in New York City. He taught violin at the Curtis Institute of Music beginning in 1944, and became the head of the violin department at the Juilliard School in 1946. He wrote two violin method books, Principles of Violin Playing and Teaching (1962) and Contemporary Violin Technique (1962). Galamian incorporated aspects of both the Russian and French schools of violin technique in his approach. Galamian founded the summer program Meadowmount School of Music in Westport, New York.
His most notable teaching assistants - later distinguished teachers in their own right - were Margaret Pardee, Dorothy DeLay, Sally Thomas, Pauline Scott, Robert Lipsett, Lewis Kaplan, David Cerone, and Elaine Richey.
Galamian held honorary degrees from the Curtis Institute of Music, Oberlin College, and the Cleveland Institute of Music. He also was an honorary member of the Royal Academy of Music, London.
The collaboration between John Cage, the composer, poet and artist, and Merce Cunningham, the dancer and choreographer, extended from 1942, when they met at Seattle's Cornish School, and continued until Cage's death in 1992. [Their personal relationship is well established from personal commentary but is not mentioned in the literature because the temper of the time was not "out" as it is today; I do not make anything of it in my report because I respect Cage's view, which is that he resented categories.]
This 50 year period began the last three years before the end of WWII (the same year that US forces landed on Guadalcanal) and three years before Truman dropped the bombs on Japan in Hiroshima and Nagasaki—and continued through and beyond the Korean (1950-1953) and Viet Nam (1954-1975) conflicts and the myriad changes of the 1960's. [There is some controversy regarding Cage's lack of participation in WWII; this has been explained by Cage having assisted his father, who was an inventor working at times for the US government, with some particular research which was significant to the war effort.]
The era of the 60's was characterized by a growing sense of planetary connection, concern for human rights (the women's movement, the civil rights movement), civil disobedience (protests, riots), technological quantum leaps, and numerous artistic, intellectual, political and economic upheavals. And this was the era when Cage came into prominence. In 1968 Cage and Buckminster Fuller were asked to participate in a dialog through the auspices of a newly formed interdisciplinary branch of the Department of Justice, headed by R.G.H. Siu, the purpose of which was to develop a framework of social justice values for President Johnson's "Great Society." Joan Retallack, the author of
Musicage: Cage Muses on Words Art Music
(Wesleyan University Press, 1996) was hired as a consultant, and brought in Cage and Fuller, who were thrilled to be given the potential to have an effect on society through their socialaesthetic notions.
In 1965-1967 Cage published his "Diary: How to Improve the World" and Fuller's geodesic dome had housed the US exhibition in Montreal. Cage's work expressed his awareness of world problems of hunger, lack of shelter, and the war in Viet Nam. Retallack interviewed both men extensively and then (without making copies) gave the tapes to a secretary in the Justice Department for transcription. Right after that, Humphrey lost to Nixon and when Nixon took over, the tapes became classified, Siu was fired, all of the materials from the interviews were classified and Retallack was not allowed to have them back. Joan Retallack was intensely embarrassed by these events, as she felt she had wasted the two men's time; she withdrew from working with them for a while but she and Cage reconnected later, the outcome of which were the interviews which resulted in her book, Musicage.
Cage's (and by extension, Cunningham's) political views are very much based on what he considered to be the obvious results of technological development, as exemplified in the work of Buckminster Fuller and others; that technology would eventually provide enough food and goods to care for everyone on the planet. To Cage, planetary ecology, responsible agribusiness (he was a vegetarian), and concern for all human life were key issues and he spoke about them often in his work. Cage "took his work...to be a contribution to the global conversation among those who care about the future of the planet." (Musicage, Joan Retallack, p. xxvii.) Cage's primary political stance was a support of anarchy, which he felt would be the most appropriate form of government in a world where everyone's basic needs (food, shelter) were satisfied and there was plenty of leisure to pursue artistic and personal goals. The world has again proven to be less interested in accomplishing these goals than Cage or Fuller would have liked, but the game is not over yet.
Economically, probably what is most significant about this era is the nature of the planetary interconnection with all people, occurring in response to technological developments; it is said that human technology changed more during these 50 years than in the last two millennia. The issues pertinent to this change were discussed in books by two important authors: (1) Alvin Toffler's
(Bantam Books, 1991), and (2) John Naisbitt's
which, like Toffler's books, diagnosed current trends as they apply to contemporary social structures—work, the family, personal relations, business, and international concerns. In essence, what these books are saying is that this era, the one in which the Cage/Cunningham collaboration flourished, was an era of remarkable, technologically-inspired, planetary wide change and rebirth. Primary to Toffler's thinking is the notion that human history may be subdivided into three developmental eras—the agricultural, the industrial revolution and now, what we're experiencing currently, the information age. Toffler offers a remarkably usable context for the current global confusion. John Naisbitt's Megatrends is currently out of print, but an additional book,
covers trends into the 21st century. A useful analogy which I read somewhere (but have long since forgotten the source!) is with the space program: one might compare the venturing out of humans into space to the first venturing of sea-based life forms onto the surface of the planet. (This may be attributed to Carl Sagan, but I cannot be sure.)
In keeping with all of the important trends during this era is the sense of global interconnectiveness with all of the planet's myriad cultures and ethnicities, and specifically, in the United States, that of interest in and study of Asian cultures, particularly Zen Buddhism. Cage was immersed in the philosophy of Zen and spent two years attending weekly lectures at Columbia University, given by D.T. Suzuki. [See
Zen and Japanese Culture
by Daisetz T. Suzuki (Princeton University Press, 1993.) D.T. Suzuki is not to be confused with Shinichi Suzuki, founder of the Suzuki violin method.] The primary focus of Zen is to break through all the myriad forms of human superficiality and to get to what lies behind them all; Zen has no taste for complexities and feels that intellect is only one of many screens that interfere with taking hold of what is in fact, reality. Zen attempts to open the psyche up to a greater awareness of life, and this awareness is all inclusive with respect to other cultures; it moves one beyond the ordinary, just as the LSD-induced trances of the time were said to do. [Cage, by the way, was never interested in and probably never took drugs. He had friends who did, though, he says. Probably this was, among others, John and Yoko, who also introduced him to macrobiotic cooking.]
It should be noted that Zen is not a religion in any traditional sense, but a philosophy or way of life, one that accepted poverty (wabi, in Japanese, and the turning away from what is fashionable to what is simple and beautiful and honorable), and discouraged a dependence on worldly things such as power, wealth and reputation. This also was in keeping with current trends, the "hippie" movement and the then-current youth rebellion against parental values. With respect to Cage's voice, musically, Zen philosophy meshed with his sense of removing his own personality, history and taste from the compositions. The goals of both Cage and Cunningham were to let the sounds and images stand for themselves and let the auditors put into the works what they will.
From Musicage, p. xxix: "Cage worked in service of principles and values derived from what in lifelong study he took to be the best, the most practically and spiritually relevant, of Eastern and Western thought, hoping that someday global humanity might live with pleasure in anarchic harmony—in mutually consensual, non-hierarchical enterprise."
The year 1968 was a significant year in the United States; it was the "Summer of Love" in Berkeley, California, and the height of the hippie period in Haight Asbury. I was staying in Berkeley with a public school music teacher who was running for an administrative position on the school board and was involved in the free school movement. There were hippies everywhere (I was one, in my own Midwestern sort of way), marijuana was $10 for a shoebox, a lot of people experimented with LSD, and the University of California campus at Berkeley was full of long haired, beaded, students, most of whom seemed to carry musical instruments, had a dog with them, or both. Everyone shared, communal living was the order of the day, Elton John's "Tiny Dancer" was in vogue, and revolutionary ideas were in the air; Cage, Camus, Bertrand Russell, Henry Miller, R.D. Lang (The Politics of Experience), and Eric Hoffer (
The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements, and
The Ordeal of Change) were all popular books of the time.
The primary tenet was not to be "straight," which characteristic would be indicated by a support of Nixon politics and, specifically in California, Raeganism. What we supported were blacks, minorities, and women. Bobby Seale and the "Chicago Seven" had an effect on the Republican National Convention. There was outrage over the war in Viet Nam, our parents' racism, and over the notion that one should "act like a lady." Our mothers told some of us that, of course women could have jobs, but, of course, "they'd never compete with men." (Huh?? How could you have a job and not compete with men?) Households rang with screaming matches over religion (I was against it), race (we couldn't reconcile our parents' claims to be Christian while remaining bigots), and most of all, with ecological concerns and the War. Our parents were thinking with their own mindsets, conditioned by the Great Depression and the terms of WWII, which conflict was caused by the injustices of the Versailles Treaty and which war was probably, relative to Viet Nam, in retrospect, relatively justified.
The prevailing intellectual temper of this era was rather anti-intellectual and consisted primarily of struggle—the struggle between a younger generation of "over-fed, long-haired, leaping gnomes," as one rock and roll song put it, and those who, like my parents, clung to the past and the things that had served them then. This was the generation which had endured pre-war economic devastation and struggled intensively to provide their families with more security than they had, growing up. Thus when the GI's returned from the European conflict in 1945 (WWII ended in 1945, Viet Nam ended in 1975—30 years that convulsed with incredible social changes), what they wanted most were jobs, educations in some cases, and to buy a house and raise a family. Theirs was a society predicated on the status-quo; the division of the races, the subjugation of women in the home, the complete emotional commitment to the goals of the government, and obedience to authority. Business, government, law, education, the arts—all the sources of power and control—existed in what was a man's world based on two models; sports and the military. Women's place was in the home. Traditionally, men were the heads of households and there was no arguing with them on issues, particularly ones involved with the sacredness of their power.
The temper was anti-minority, anti-gay, anti-women, and sexually repressed. Any deviation from these social norms was met with shock, rejection and horror. The intellect as divorced from practical considerations, per se, was not looked upon with favor; the sort of intellectual experimentation favored by the avant-garde was viewed with suspicion, as being too frivolous, and was certainly not favored by a generation which had seen and survived poverty, global depression and war.
Empty Words, (Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 1979. p. 5): "It may seem to some that through the use of chance operations I run counter to the spirit of Thoreau (and '76, and revolution for that matter). The fifth paragraph of
Walden speaks against blind obedience to a blundering oracle. However, chance operations are not mysterious sources of "the right answers." They are a means of locating a single one among a multiplicity of answers, and, at the same time, of freeing the ego from its taste and memory, its concern for profit and power, of silencing the ego so that the rest of the world has a chance to enter into the ego's own experience...Rome, Britain, Hitler's Germany. Those were not chance operations. We would do well to give up the notion that we alone can keep the world in line, that only we can solve its problems. More than anything else we need communion with everyone. Struggles for power have nothing to do with communion. Communion extends beyond borders; it is with one's enemies also. Thoreau said: "The best communion men [sic] have is in silence." Works by Cage/Cunningham affronted the bourgeois with avant-garde notions since the 1940's; by the early 60's, Cage was particularly active in New York though not always well received. He regretted but was not at all discouraged by unsupportive responses from New York audiences, and developed a stronger international following during a six month world tour. Throughout many of the collaborations, most of the audiences were those which had been insulated from both the abandonment of conventional tonality (as expressed in Schoenberg), the post WWII development of magnetic tape, and the beginnings of electronic music—characterized by Tompkins as the "great revolutions in twentieth-century music." [See
Duchamp: A Biography, Calvin Tompkins. Owl Books, 1998].
A geographic outcome of the radicalism of the Cage/Cunningham era was the notion of the "global village," a phrase coined by Marshall McLuhan (War and Peace in the Global Village, out of print. ISBN #0671689967.) Interestingly, this phrase has passed into a sort of universal usage, along with another phrase from his book by the same title, "the medium is the message." Doing a search on amazon.com revealed dozens of books with the phrase "global village" and Hillary Clinton's book
It Takes a Village is also reminiscent of the phrase. What McLuhan meant by this phrase is the interconnectedness of all of mankind through the technological developments current at that time. McLuhan, Cage and Fuller had during the 1960's an Utopian sense of trying to save the world; Cage's work can be said to be a collaboration in that his aim was to work on the global problems of the world in a practical and constructive way. "Global Village" is also the title of an etching by Cage which he turned into a diptych in his home by placing it opposite a mirror which reflects a window giving a view to his back yard.
Cage's work consisted of a lifetime effort to dislodge "cultural authoritarianism (and gridlock)..." (Musicage, p. xxvii.) Thus the Cage/Cunningham collaboration, which began decades before the real flourishing of these various significant societal changes, had very strong intellectual underpinnings related to the broad changes in society; their ironic and sometimes bizarre works speak clearly to the issues of the time, the rebellion of youth, and the inevitable changes brought about by technology, which changes shocked and abused the sensibilities of the previous generation.
Materials in this book are based on the author's experiences with Heifetz during the last 15 years of his life. Ayke Agus was a talented violinist and pianist who started as a violin student in his master class, and ended up factotum, hostess at his house, and accompanist.
It is not difficult to make the error of thinking that, with respect to a person of genius in some specific field (say, violin performance), the person also has genius level, precognitive abilities in all the other areas of human endeavor; philosophy, politics, social justice issues, etc. That, in other words, a person of genius would exhibit genius across the board, so to speak. This is not the case with Heifetz—and probably not the case with anyone.
Despite his fame and international standing as a concert and recording artist, and the adulation shown to him by many admirers, Heifetz nevertheless exhibited many of the prejudices and shortcomings of his age and era: sexism, superstition, a controlling and difficult nature. Some of the shortcomings may be attributed to the cultural milieu in which he developed, some to his individual upbringing; his youth was entirely sacrificed to this art and supporting his family. Whatever the reasons, though his performances may have been perfect, many of his attitudes were not.
He liked to enlighten me on the subject of the male-female relationship and explained countless times that human life essentially is based on a continuous tension, which he viewed as a kind of game, between man and woman. As for his role in this tension, he was a confirmed male chauvinist, deeply convinced of male superiority; his opinions on the subject were full of bigoted clichés and antiquated principles about women's role in married life and society. (p. 139)
But all of that is rather understandable and can be forgiven, in light of his contributions to music. The mémoire has much to teach about violin performance, interpretation and string pedagogy. In no particular order of importance, some of the issues in the master class include:
Insistence on professional dress, even during lessons (no sneakers or bangs that cover the face—dresses and suits)
Insistence on keeping violin and bow spotless—and his rosin was even across the top, not the groove in the middle
Insistence that students dispense with the shoulder rest and string the inner two strings of the violin with gut strings
It was required that students play all major and minor scales and arpeggios, in all keys, and 3rds, 6ths, 10ths, and parallel and fingered octaves
Heifetz did not really teach techical material, aside from the insistence on mastering all the scales (see above), but he did know what études to recommend to remedy any student's technical deficiencies, and he practiced the études regularly, himself
Thought students over 25 incapable of acquiring new technical facility
Had no respect for degrees, diplomas, certificates, etc; thought that if a player were good enough, they would come to be recognized
Same attitude towards contests
Would not work with "prodigies"
To test and develop students' musicianship, he would change fingerings, bowings, positions, dynamics, in odd ways designed to throw them off
There was no arrogance in the way he taught, even when he demonstrated a passage; rather, "His demonstrations were those of a craftsman revealing all the secrets of his trade to his apprentice." (p. 57)
Students expected to also play viola and piano (excellent advice)
A lot is omitted, due to the brevity of this review—such as the practice by Heifetz of insisting students use the whole bow, and if they didn't, humorously offering them this tiny 12" bow he kept on hand. His actual work with her as an accompanist (e.g., making the piano sound like various orchestral instruments), and a great deal more, besides, cannot fit into a brief review. But it's well worth reading, especially for performing players and teachers.
Here's another quote, and I think an important one, found at the end of the first chapter. It is natural that much of his behavior was shaped by the circumstances of his world fame, and isolation as a child:
Heifetz had built an impenetrable barrier around himself as protection for his innermost uncertainties about his worth as a human being. Because of that, he was the target of personal and impersonal criticism, often deeply rooted in jealousy. His personality was so complex that it obscured understanding of his motives, his actions and reactions, and even his art. (p. 18)
"deeply rooted in jealousy" is interesting. I don't think she means that Heifetz was jealous of anyone, but the opposite: people were jealous of him—and behaved badly because of it; this would be the impetus to much of his behavior: not wanting people to pry, not accepting appointments without prior notice, not wanting to gossip or be quoted.
There are numerous videos of the Heifetz master class on YouTube. According to the author (p. 50) the Heifetz master class videos were filmed in 1962, ten years prior to her entry to the class, and don't reflect the best of his teaching, nor how he was teaching 10 years later. She wrote that the videos were made to showcase his best and most prepared students, but his best teaching was evident in his work with the new students.
It is not globally established that Heifetz was the greatest violinist ever; Oistrakh holds that position in Japan, by all reports. It is also not established that he was a great teacher. He didn't deal with technical matters, at all, but left that to the teaching assistants. Mostly he just stirred matters up by observing the already-trained player, and pushing them with alternative rhythms, tempi, dynamics, articulations, and doing things like not turning pages as expected. He wouldn't even take older students, younger students, students who expressed themselves as intellectuals (which he depised), or any student who refused to go along with his stipulations as to clothing and demeanor. He thought the way a student looked was as important (to their career, perhaps) as the way they played. The one very young prodigy that might have been accepted into the master class was refused admission because Heifetz's name was spelled wrong on the application.
When Heifetz decided that Ms. Agus would become his accompanist and later, work for him in his home, the decision was preceeded by nearly a semester of uncertainly, where she was accompanying the class and studying piano, but had no secure position. He told her that she didn't need to study violin with him, and was already capable of getting some violin jobwith her current skill level on violin. He wanted her to work for him, and be shaped by him as an artist, and her finances were such (she had to buy a good piano for her home, in order to work there with his students, preparing them for his class), that she really didn't have much choice in the matter. Had she not made the choice to accept the accompanying position, Heifetz indicated she would not be studying violin with him. By her report, she was hurt by this, but she mentions frequently that the cultural attitudes of her Chinese-Indonesian background influenced her compliant behavior.
Heifetz read Russian novels, National Geographic, Reader's Digest, books on art and the biographies of artists (musicians, composers, actors, etc.). His view was that musicians should study all the arts, not just music (p. 177). He was fastidious about decorating, gardening, organizing his music, entertaining. But social justice issues, especially with respect to women, did not seem to concern him. Sexism, like racism, has existed in the human community since prehistory, but notable minds have critized these kinds of prejudices, and it diminishes someone's stature when they are compliant with the norm.
The author never mentions that she was paid for her work in his home: cooking, keeping him company in the evenings, driving him back and forth between his home in Beverly Hills and his beachfront property in Malibu. She even crawled on his roof and fixed tiles. He did not like to come home alone to an empty house, and would call her, even at 11:00 at night, so that she could be there if the housekeepers were off, to fix him a drink and perhaps play cards. It almost appears that he thought of her as a species of servant, and took advantage of her because of her status as a female. She also notes that when he died, his family informed her that her duties were over.
The question becomes, why would anyone feel obliged to do a moment's work for anyone, without getting paid? Because he played the violin brilliantly, had an international reputation and was wealthy because of it? Because he was in a prominent position at the university? Those are not good enough reasons to abase oneself like that, and allow someone to use you in whatever capacities you have to offer.
This is a dense and well written book. In the Acknowledgments she credits the father of her son (so referred, rather than "my husband"), with "help in verbalizing" her story and "editing the manuscript." Editing does not mean writing, of course; but if she didn't write it herself, I would be surprised.
Heifetz was difficult, he was sexist, and—like so many people with extremely high intelligence—he routinely manipulated people for his own ends. So our hero is not perfect, but human. All the more reason to set aside the personality (as one so often has to do with artists) and focus on the art.
NOTE: Musicians can argue endlessly about these meanings; many definitions are dependant on the stylistic practices of any given era, or even a specific composer. This is by no means a complete list. Links are to brief audio recordings (mp3's) with violin and viola examples performed by Connie Sunday, from the Suzuki literature.
Arco: Italian for bow. Written in after passages of pizzicato (plucked) notes. Means to return to playing with the bow.
Articulation: Shape of a note or phrase. Basically three marks (and combinations thereof). The dot ( . ) which is staccato (short); the line ( - ) which is tenuto (stretched); and the accent ( > ) which is like a little punch at the beginning of a note. (Accent marks are the chevron pointing to the right.) Sometimes in an otherwise more or less staccato passage, the articulation line ( - ) is meant to give the note full length, where it is equivalent to tenuto. Sometimes, in combination with a slur, it means the notes are detached although played without a change in bow direction. Sometimes the line implies that some sort of weight should be given to the note. Sometimes it's composer-defined.
Bariolage: A passage, often in Bach but in Brahms and elsewhere, where the fingers are held down over several strings and the bow oscillates between the several strings. The Bach E Major Partita is a notorious example. Very impressive sounding; not so hard once you get the trick of it. Bariolage.
Bartók pizz: Also called snap pizz. Right hand pulls the string away from the fingerboard and releases, causing a snapping sound. Bartók pizz.
Bouncing bow: This is not just spiccato, which is an off-the-string, at-the-sounding-point technique of very small up and down bows, originating from the wrist, but a host of other definitions with very fine distinctions as to their meanings. See: What is the best way to develop a reliable spiccato? [Worthy of further study are: saltando, saltante, saltato, saltellato, saltellando, sautellé.] Spiccato.
Bow Direction: With many, many exceptions, the heavy part of the measure (normally the first beat) starts with down bow, where the hand pulls the bow down, toward the right. Single "pickups" nearly always start with up bow, where the hand pulls the bow upward, toward the left. Again, with many exceptions, groups of (say) four 16th notes always start down bow. See also:
Rule of Down Bow.
Collé: "Chipped" bowing. Normally at the frog but may be articulated in any part of the bow. Created by setting the bow on the string and then playing a short stroke by springing the bow, about two inches from the string. Thumb and little finger should be curved, with the elbow as high as the top of the hand.
Col Legno: Passage where the sound is produced by striking the wood of the bow against the string(s). One should not use one's best bow in this type of passage, particularly if the bow is expensive. To end the passage in col legno, Kurt Stone's Notation in the Twentieth Century uses normale and ordinario (abbreviated norm. and ord.)
Con sordino: With mute. Passages with mute end with the phrase "senza sordino" which means to remove the mute. There are several varieties of violin mute. One is a "Sihon" or slide-on mute, often used by students, which slides up upon the bridge, from between the end of the tailpiece and the bridge. Costs about $2-$3US. There is the Tourte mute, which also can hang behind the
bridge in that area. There is a Heifetz mute, which clips on rather snugly and has to be put on by hand. There is also the heavy practice mute of silver or gold, which is not used in orchestral studies, but to practice without disturbing neighbors or roommates. Con sordino.
Contact point: Also called sounding point, the explicit part of the bow hair which touches the string. In Suzuki parlance, related to the "Kreisler Highway," or the effort to play perfectly parallel between the end of the fingerboard and the bridge at the optimal spot which will produce the best sound.
Détaché: Impossible to define this, as there are so many varieties. Basically, up and down; a change of bowing direction with some articulation. Does not necessarily mean staccato (though sometimes defined as such); can be heavily accented or not.
[It should be noted that détaché does not mean "detached." Détaché is in French what is called a "false friend"; it looks like an English word (remember that about 80% of the words in French are also in English), but is not at all the same thing. Détaché simply means separate bows. Another example of a "false friend" is the verb in French, demand. If you say, "Je demande" you only say I ask, not I demand...which has been known to play havoc with diplomatic translations!]
Flautando: Flute-like sound produced by deliberately playing over the fingerboard.
Harmonics: Bell-like tone created by lightly touching the string with the flat part of the left finger, which breaks the string into partials. The first harmonic learned by students is the one mid-way between the nut and the bridge, at about an inch or so above (towards the bridge) where the body of the violin begins. Indicated by a 4 and a 0 fingering. Used by composers for affect.
Jeté: Individually produced or "thrown" series of notes, produced at the same part of the bow.
Left hand pizzicato: pizzicato created by a sharp plucking of the string with the violin (left) hand. Common in Paganini.
Legato: Smooth, tied together. May be indicated by a slur mark. Legato.
Marcato: Unclear term. Accentuated in some fashion, as détaché or martelé.
Parts of the bow: Frequently in printed scores there will be indications of what part of the bow should be used. Teachers use these markings also:
WB = Whole Bow
MB = Middle Bow
UH = Upper Half (Tip end of bow)
LH = Lower half (Frog end of bow)
Pizzicato: Usually written as "pizz" in the parts, and "arco" when the pizz section is meant to end. Plucking the string with the right hand. Technique may be done in several ways with respect to the holding of the bow in the right hand: (a) for very quick notes in pizz, the right index finger may be extended, and the pizz done without much changing the shape of the bow hold; (b) the bow may
be grasped by the fist and the thumb balanced against the corner of the fingerboard with the index finger pizzing; and (c) the bow may be set down in the lap or on the stand for extended passages in pizz. There is also the virtuosic technique of left hand pizzicato, found, for example, in Paganini Caprices, where the left hand does the plucking of the strings in conjunction with or interspersed
with bowing. Pizzicato.
Ponticello: Orchestral technique of playing on the bridge (sul ponticello). "Dietro il ponticello" is playing behind the bridge. These and much more unorthodox techniques may be found in Penderecki's "Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima." End of ponticello passage may be indicated by "ordinario," often written as "ord." Sul ponticello.
Portamento: An audible slide from one position to the next. As modern stringed instrument technique developed in the later part of the 20th century, players tended to be less and less "smaltzy," and portamento used more carefully. But in the performances of Yo-Yo Ma (for example) you will be surprised to discover a lot of portamenti, but they do not sound syrupy at all. This is a matter of "taste," that longed for but often hard to define characteristic of great string playing. Portamento.
Richochet: Fast bounces, similar to spiccato but in the U.H. (upper half of the bow).
Rule of Down-Bow: Notion that the first beat of every measure should start down bow. Usually this feels right, but there are many exceptions, when up is more appropriate. Sometimes you have to work back from materials in upcoming measures to make sure the movements of the bow serve the phrase. Geminiani called this "the wretched Rule."
Slur: A curved line, below which or above which, all the notes are smoothly articulated together. Phrase breaks occur outside the slur. The primary distinction between a slur and a tie, is that a tie unites one or more notes of the same pitch, requiring that the pitch not be replayed but held the time required. Slurs slur notes of different pitches, as a rule.
Son filé: Fr., "filimented sound" or the sustained legato. See:
Bow Speed Techniques, to study the production of this sound. Another method is as follows:
Ex: Starting at the tip, keeping the bow parallel between the end of the fingerboard and the bridge, move the bow as slowly as possible to the frog (and back) making a nice sound and counting. See how long you can make this last. Very good for developing the small muscle control needed to play with sensitivity.
Sounding Point (or "point of contact"):
String articulations are controlled from the second joint of the left, "bow hand": the middle joint of the index finger. [See: Finger names] This is the spot where the index finger sits, bent, on the top and side (away from the player) of the bow.
The bow needs to "cut the string" at the sounding point ("point of contact")— the feeling is centered in that spot on the index finger, at the middle joint. The sounding point is a concept from Galamian: this is the exact spot where the bow hair "cuts" the string. This, really, is the secret of good sound on the violin.
Staccato: Generally, short. Spaces between the notes. An important articulation developed by the control of the bow from the second joint of the bow hand on the stick. [For further study: martelé, jeté, slurred staccato, flying staccato.] Staccato.
Sul tasto: Playing over the fingerboard (which produces a softer sound). Okay as an orchestral technique, not okay as a bad habit, due to lack of bow control or the affect of gravity if the violin is not held parallel (or above) to the floor. End of sul tasto passage may be indicated by "ordinario," often written as "ord."
Tremolo: Orchestral technique of many small and measured or unmeasured up and down bows, accented or unaccented, at various dynamics, as indicated by the composer. Often used to fill the sound more full, or to create excitement or tension. Tremolo.
Vibrato: An oscillating of the sound, used to provide warmth to a note. Basically three kinds of vibrato: finger vibrato, hand vibato, arm vibrato, with string players tending to use one or more of these according to their own propensities. In the Baroque period vibrato was considered an ornament. In contemporary technique, continuous vibrato can be a problem and has to be controlled. Vibrato should not be used during the practice of scales, unless one is specifically using the scale to practice vibrato. Vibrato can also be a sign of nervousness and should be calmed, in that case. Judiciously used vibrato and portamento contribute to the emotional appeal of a performance.
Every major scale has a relative minor, which has the exact same key signature, but starts three, 1/2 steps below the tonic in the major. Minor scales have three forms:
Natural: Exact same notes as the relative major, without any chromatic alteration;
Melodic: Raised 6th and 7th step in the ascending form; the descending form is like the natural;
Harmonic: Raised leading tone (both ascending and descending), which causes a step-and-a-half interval between the 6th and 7th steps.
Note also that works are not in "melodic minor" or "harmonic minor" keys; rather, composers sprinkle these configurations throughout the work.
Key Areas (Major)
Key Areas (Minor)
Parallel keys are a different thing altogether; what makes them parallel is that the scale starts on the same note - but the key signatures are different. For example:
C Major (no sharps or flat) / c minor (three flats)
G Major (one sharp) / g minor (two flats)
D Major (two sharps) / d minor (one flat)..etc.
So the question really is, if an audition is asking for a "Parallel melodic minor scale" -- parallel to what Major key? You will need to find that out, and then play a scale on that same tonic note but with the melodic minor construction -- which of course is a raised 6th and 7th step in the ascending form, and the "natural" form in the descending.
Supposing that the auditioner wants a melodic minor scale parallel to the A Major; then you would play a melodic minor scale starting on the pitch "A," thus:
With respect to three octave scales on the violin, all the scales which start with the second finger, can have the same fingering. One rule for memorization is "up on the A, down on the E" (Viola, of course would be "up on the D, down on the A"). In other words, you shift up on the A string in the ascending form of the scale, but come down on the top string, in the descending form.
Second finger scales include those scales with the tonic on:
B flat, B, C, C#/D flat, D, E flat, E, F, and F#/G flat
• Play two of the scale notes on the A string, then shift up;
• On the E, it's 1-2 (shift), 1-2, then an extension at the end: 1-2-3-4-4;
• The descending form is 4-4-3-2-1, 2-1,2-1;
• then cross over to the A string
The three non-second finger scales are:
- Ascending: on the A, 3rd position; E string, 1-2, 1-2-3-4-4
- Descending: down to first on E; 4-4-3-2-1, 2-1, 2-1
• A flat
- Ascending: on the A, 3rd position; E string, 1-2, 1-2-3-4 (no extension)
- Descending: down to first on E; 4-4-3-2-1, 3-2-1, 2-1
• A (same as A flat)
- Ascending: on the A, 3rd position; E string, 1-2, 1-2-3-4 (no extension)
- Descending: down to first on E; 4-4-3-2-1, 3-2-1, 2-1
Steps and Half-Steps
Half steps in major scales: 3-4, 7-8 (numbers refer to scale steps)
Half steps in minor:
• Always 2-3 (primary "minor" characteristic)
• harmonic: 1 1/2 steps between 6-7
Galamian has a scale study method covering much the same material, but includes more contemporary harmonies, more diverse choice of fingerings, and a separate book with bowing options. Notes are only note heads, which is different than the Carl Flesch.
An even more contemporary scale and arpeggio study book with a jazz/rock influence is Mark Wood's Electrify Your Strings. This may be studied with an acoustic instrument and is well worth examining.
• The following major scales have the same fingering: C, G, D, A, E, B/C flat.
- RH: 123 12345
- LH: 543 21321
Note that the "3's are together"
• F Major, the left hand is the same as above, but the right hand:
- RH: 1234 1234
The less consistent scales on the piano are the following (please practice these carefully until they become "second nature"):
• B flat:
- RH: 21 23 1234
- LH: 43 14 3213
• E flat:
- RH: 31234 123
- LH: 32143 213
• A flat:
- RH: 231 23 123
- LH: 321 43 213
• D flat/C#:
- RH: 231 234 12
- LH: 321 432 13
• G flat/F#:
- RH: 234 123 12
- LH: 432 132 14
In the major there are three sets of enharmonic fingerings. While the tonality may be somewhat different on stringed instruments, depending on context, the notes are exactly the same on the piano (though phrasing is related to key structure); thus the fingering of the enharmonic pairs is the same:
• B/C flat
• F#/G flat
• C#/D flat