Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Tips for Gavotte by Gossec, No. 17 Suzuki Violin Book 1

    You have made it to the last song of Suzuki Book 1. Yes! You are finally here after all that hard work; congratulations on persevering! Book 1 has makes sure to build a good foundation for the violinist. That is, establishing a solid playing position, bow hand, and grounding in tone. Moreover, you have learned to play in the key of A, D and G major. Lastly, you are now able to perform the basic detache (regular bow), staccato, bow retakes, hook bow and slurs. There are a few more skills that you have picked but these are the primary skills you have begun to establish. Majority of the skills come together in the last piece of Book 1. The Gavotte by Fracois-Joseph Gossec is in the key of G Major and is an entire page, the longest piece in the book. 

Enjoy these tips to help you finish the book strong:

You can think of the piece in four parts: part 1, lines 1 & 2; part 2, lines 3 & 4; part 3, lines 5 & 6; and part 4, lines 7 & 8. Lastly, there is a D.C. al Fine. 


The Big Lift. 
In the first two lines there are notes that have a grace with it, which even come back a little later in the piece.The first lift is in the 2nd measure on the 2nd quarter note with an up bow. Come off the string with a big lift and then place the bow down to prepare the next note. Beware of crashing the bow down on the string after the lift, making some unwanted noise (watch the video above for a demonstration).

4-Note Slurs.

We have slurred two and three notes, now we are introduced to 4-note slurs in the latter half of the song. There are 8 groups of 4-note slurs in the piece. These 4-note slurs challenge us to use majority of the bow fitting all the notes evenly and quickly, since it is easy to use a lot of the bow on the first two notes.

Sixteenth Notes.  
The only other piece in the book with sixteenth notes has been the Twinkle Variation E at the beginning of the book. Sixteenth notes are worth half of an eighth note, 4 of them fit into 1 quarter note, which is worth 1 beat in this piece. It is easy to rush sixteenth notes so try to play them a little slower then what we feel like doing. Another way to think about the notes is to say "pepperoni" for each 4-note slur. A more advanced of thinking through these sixteenth notes is to count them "2-e-and-a" in measures 25, 27, 29-31.


This term means to pluck the string with the bow hand. Keeping a good bow hand, use the pointer finger over the fingerboard to pluck the last two notes at the bottom of the page. This is the way that Dr. Suzuki taught it to students. We can also practice the plucking the string after taking the bow in your hand, pretty much making a fist.

D.C. al Fine.

This phrase is found the bottom of the page after the last notes. D.C. is short for Da Capo, which means to go back to the beginning. After the last two notes go back to the beginning and play until the end of the 4th line where is written Fine, meaning "finish."


Like the Minuet, the Gavotte is also a dance. Dances in the Baroque and Classical Period tended to be played with a nice flow and lightly. There is no aggressive sound, so we do not want to stomp on the notes. The staccato eighth notes sound nice around the middle of the bow. Once you can play the piece well and it's memorized you are ready to bounce near the frog, which I call brush stroke, all the staccato eighth notes. This may mean after learning a few of the songs in Book 2 to get comfortable with bouncing the bow. Some teachers introduce bouncing of the bow in book 3.

1.Warm-up with the bow exercises, try to play everything faster and faster while still having a nice resonant tone.

2. Go to page 44 in the book and practice through the exercises that are printed.

3. Measure 20 is probably the toughest measure in the piece. The exercise found on page 44 is very helpful. First play the notes separately making sure to have a high 2nd finger in the first group of the 4-note slur and a low 2nd finger in the second 4-note slur. Practice playing the first 4-note slur all notes detache, then pause and prepare the low 2nd finger, and then play the 2nd group. Next, play the slurs as hook bow, take your time to play each note clearly. Do this a few times making sure to take time to prepare the fingers. Third, play the notes with slurs stopping between each group to make sure that you are ready for the low 2nd finger and a big up bow. Practice this way at different speeds and then play the slurs without the stopping to prepare.

4. Play only the 4-note slurs all as hook bow, stopping between each note making sure that you use an equal amount of bow for each note.

5. Work on all the hook bow measures playing each one 3 times preparing the bow so there is no squeak or crunch. Do not be in a hurry because it will not sound nice, your arms need time to get ready. After you work on all the measures with the hook bows on their own it will be much easier to get the song to flow.

6. Play all the 4-note slurs with hook bow making sure to evenly distribute the bow. Once you can do that comfortably, you will want to add the note before and after the slur.

7. Play through the piece all regular bow - no staccato, hook bows or slurs.

8. Play along with the Youtube video above and other recordings.

9. Play a book recital, all the pieces in the book, for your family and friends. Playing a longer recital will grow your stamina, concentration, and ability to keep going when you make mistakes.

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