Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Practice Strategies for Minuet No. 1 in Suzuki Book 1

     You are a 3/4 of the way through the book and are now going to embark on the 3 Minuets of J.S. Bach! You are now playing Bach, this a good step up! Bach wrote these minuets originally for his wife to play on the harpsichord. Here are some tips to get started:
Structure. The piece is organized in two main sections, but we can think of the song in 3 parts (more why below). Here’s how they are played: part 1 mezzo forte (line 1-2), part 2 piano then mezzo forte (line 3-4), part 3 piano then mezzo forte (line 5-6).

New Skills. 
1. Hook Bows. This bow stroke is also called portato and is played down-down or up-up. You will recognize this in the music where there is a curved line over two notes and dots above them in measures 1 and 3. The best way to work your hook bow for now it to play with a smooth bow and stopping between the two notes. Another way of saying this is don't play hook bows with crunches and squeezing, since it will not give you a good tone.
2. Low-High Two. In the previous piece, Etude, low 2 on A and E string was introduced. But now, in part 1 and 3 we have low 2 on the A string and high 2 in part 2. This is why I break the piece up in three parts, so that it is easier to remember where the high 2 is played.
3. Artistry. Since the Minuet is a dance in 3/4 time, once the song is flowing we can emphasize the first note of every measure with more bow. The emphasis of the first beat in a Minuet is a way to make it more professional and expressive. 

1. Warm-up with the bow exercises, now with an emphasis on hook bows.
2. Play the finger concerto with low 2 and high 2. Play on every string once with low 2 then with high 2 and that will make it easier to switch between them. 
3. Play through the piece with all low 2s then bring the high 2 back in part 2. You can also do it the other way, play everything high 2 and then add the low 2s where they belong. 
4. Play along with the Youtube video above and other recordings.
5. Be creative with your playing this week, add hook bows to all the songs you know.

What do you think? Do you have any tips? Any questions, suggestions or concerns? Let me hear from you. 

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