Saturday, July 15, 2017

How to Practice Violin with a Healing Collarbone

     I had a mother of a young boy come to me the other day very concerned because her son had broken his left collarbone while on vacation and the doctor said that it would take months to heal. She is concerned about her son starting to play the violin while the bone heals.

It is easy to take a break from practicing an instrument but a lot harder to start back up again.  If learning music is something that you want to be a part of your education than avoid breaks.  

These kind of situations are great to build an attitude of perseverance and creativity because it is easy to just stop, take the easy way out.

So here are some tips that will help you keep practicing during the healing process:

1. Theory: flash cards are a good option to review and master the terms that a part of the pieces of music you are studying.  I recommend 2-3 minutes per practice. 

2. Sing: sing the fingerings or note names of the song. You may not think you have a good voice so it is uncomfortable to sing.  The important point to remember is that trying to sing will build intonation, rhythm, and tempo. 

Note to parents: your attitude to sing along with your child is crucial here, let them see you try to sing along with them. Your child may wait to hear you sing through the song before even attempting.

3. Sing & Clap: after singing through the song, add clapping.  Sing and clap the notes of the songs.

4. Violin with No Bow: finger the notes (play the violin without the bow) as you say the fingers or note names.  You may want to first play the violin like a guitar in rest position, pluck the strings over the fingerboard.  

6. Playing Position: go from rest position to playing position 3 times, gently placing the violin on the shoulder. You may want to get a small towel to place on the shoulder to cushion the violin along with the shoulder rest.

7. Bow Exercises: do bow exercises without the violin to work on the violin hand.  Here are some bow exercises to get you started if you do not have a list yet.

8. Bowing: play songs with just the bow, no violin, saying the fingerings or notes to improve your bow skills.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Practice Tips for The Two Grenadiers Suzuki Violin Book 2

     The Two Grenadiers by Robert Schumann. This is our second piece by Robert Schumann as we also played The Happy Farmer in Book 1. This is the first piece that is in a minor key, sounding sad, and where we use low first finger on the A and E string, it is a big step in our violin playing.

Here are some practice tips as you work through The Two Grenadiers:

The Two Grenadiers is in the key of D Minor for the first half of the piece, which means that it has 1 flat - Bb. For violinists this means we play a low 2nd finger on all the strings and low 1st finger the A and E string, except for the notes that have accidentals. The last half of the piece is in D Major which has two sharps, which we have in Musette. There is a switch to 1st finger on the tape, a regular first finger. 

This piece can be broken up in two big sections, the D minor section and D Major section.  Within those two sections we can also break the piece up in smaller chunks. 

Grenadiers. This is the word for soldier.

PiĆ¹ Mosso. Even more movement, which means that this part of the piece is faster than other sections.

Long-Short Hook Bows. Play a two-note hook with the first being longer and the second shorter.  You will see this with a dotted-quarter-eighth combination and a dotted-eighth-sixteenth note combination. 

1. Practice the long-short hook bow (dotted-quarter-eighth) on open strings.

2. Learn and play Finger Exercise No. 5A 7 times every you practice, to get comfortable sliding your first finger back for a low first finger.

3. Practice the D minor scale with long-short hook bow slow, medium and fast.

4. Listen to the c.d. or a YouTube video of the piece as you follow the notes. Listen to how the dynamics and bowings are performed.