legato

The Joy of Feuillard – A Sequential Approach to Teaching Bow Technique (Part 32 – Feuillard No. 36 – Variations #10-29)

  Today we will continue our journey through Feuillard with No. 36, Variations #10 - #29 on string crossings over four strings. Many of these variations are about sustaining the sound with legato or detaché strokes. As mentioned before it is very helpful to use the left/right motion in order to make it easier to get a big sound in the upper half of the bow. It is also helpful to use the "twist" motion of the upper torso in order to release tension from the arm and fingers, and to keep the vibrato going. Rather than lifting fingers, the twist in the upper body automatically helps to release the fingers. Variations #10 and #11: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E7Rh2uf9f-I&w=560&h=315   Variations #12, #13, and #14 The arm levels that I mentioned here were [...]

The Joy of Feuillard – A Sequential Approach to Teaching Bow Technique (Part 28 – Feuillard No. 35 – Variations #42-51)

  Today's Blog will deal with Feuillard No. 35, Variations #42 - #51, which all deal with legato string crossings using the upper arm and the wrist/fingers. As we started working on these variations I first reminded Zach about the Seven Arm Levels that we had discussed earlier (the four open strings and the three double stops), and we reviewed the "Seven Arm Level Exercise". Then I explained how these variations will involve a combination of the various arm levels and the use of the wrist/fingers to go between the double-stop levels.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZ6jTDH0etE&w=560&h=315   So, the model for these next variations is #45 - using the upper arm on the double stop level, and the wrist moving between the two strings. I often have the students play Variation #45 [...]

The Joy of Feuillard – A Sequential Approach to Teaching Bow Technique (Part 27 – Feuillard No. 35 – Variations #26-41)

The Variations in today's Blog all deal with staccato and legato strokes across three strings in various combinations. The string crossings should all be executed with the upper arm. Because they are to be played in the middle of the bow the staccato strokes should be played with the lower arm. We should pay attention to the "catch and float" on all these staccato strokes: "catch" the string at the beginning of each note, and then "float" to release the sound for resonance. Each note should have a nice starting "k" sound. Variations #26 - #31: After he played Variation #26 fully (with four beats per measure) I asked Zach to only play two beats for each chord in order to save a bit of time in the lesson. By now [...]

The Joy of Feuillard – A Sequential Approach to Teaching Bow Technique (Part 26 – Feuillard No. 35 – Variations #10-25)

  Today's Blog continues to explore the staccato and legato strokes over three strings, with 16 variations that coordinate these horizontal and vertical motions. Variations #10 -  #13 I asked Zach to play the entire variations #10 and #11 with four repetitions to make sure that he was concentrating well.  But then with Variation #12 I asked him to just do two repetitions in order to save some time in the lesson. Once the students have reached the point that they are concentrating well, and playing with more consistent accuracy, I usually ask them to cut some of the variations in half in order to save some time in the lessons. That will be the pattern in future lessons: doing a few variations full value, and then cutting them in half [...]

The Joy of Feuillard – A Sequential Approach to Teaching Bow Technique (Part 25 – Feuillard No. 35 – Variations #3-9)

  The next seven variations of Feuillard No. 35 all combine legato and staccato playing in various configurations over three strings. The issues involve coordination, and figuring out how to play smooth string crossings alternating with "catch and float" staccato strokes. Variations #3 and #4: At this point, most students are still working with the underlying concepts that we discussed in the last Blog: the twist motion and the release of the fingers while doing these variations. Zach made a lot of progress while practicing these things during the week. Today's videos demonstrate that he is absorbing the new concepts, compared to the videos in last week's Blog. At the end of the next video, Zach had a "revelation" about the relationship between the twist motion and the release of [...]

The Joy of Feuillard – A Sequential Approach to Teaching Bow Technique (Part 24 – Feuillard No. 35 – Theme and Variations #1-2)

  With today's blog we will begin our look at the Feuillard Theme No. 35, and the variations on that page which deal with string crossings on three strings.  The main issue will be trying to get smooth connections while crossing the strings. This is a lifetime occupation for cellists and other string players. It is relatively easy to play legato on one string, but to play legato while changing strings is truly difficult. There are a number of things we can do to try and get smooth string crossings. One of the concepts, as mentioned before, is to overlap the notes slightly - just as pianists do when they play legato. Another thing we can do is to make sure that there is a nice "ring" to the sound, [...]

By |2019-02-25T03:00:54+00:00February 25th, 2019|Categories: In the Practice Room, The Joy of Feuillard, Teaching|Tags: , , , |

The Joy of Feuillard – A Sequential Approach to Teaching Bow Technique (Part 13 – Feuillard No. 33 – Variations #4-9)

In today's blog we will continue Feuillard No. 33 with the Variations #4-9, dealing with legato playing, staccato strokes, and bow distribution. Variation #4 and #5: Notice in the video that Iestyn knows the tempo of these variations when I asked him, because he has written in the tempos that he thinks are good as he works on them at home:   It is important for the students to be able to imagine their tempos before playing them in the lesson. Having practiced them well at home, they should be able to predict the tempos pretty closely. If they can't then it is a sign that they are not using the metronome in their practicing. Although rhythm is one of the most basic music elements, teachers often forget to stress [...]

Emanuel Feuermann and the Art of Phrasing — by Brinton Averil Smith

There has been a long-running debate in the string-playing world regarding the 'Golden Age' of string playing, generally considered to span the 1920s to the 1960s. While many today are happy to listen to and model their playing on more contemporary players, there has been a persistent argument made that the players of that era—Heifetz, Feuermann, Kreisler, Oistrach, Casals, and numerous others—played in a different way than more recent players. It is easy to dismiss this argument as the eternal 'nothing is as good as it used to be' meme and, when painted with too broad a brush, such generalizations quickly fall apart. The string players of that era were, after all, a group of vividly different players with different approaches—as are today's players. Yet when one begins to examine [...]

By |2018-12-19T17:55:07+00:00May 18th, 2018|Categories: Artistic Vision, Self Discovery|Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Exploring Beethoven 5th, Variation One — by Jonathan Pegis

Continuing our discussion of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony, let us examine the first variation. As I did with the theme, I will first talk about the technical challenges of this excerpt and then look at the musical challenges.  First of all, it is very important that you play this excerpt in the exact same tempo that you played the theme.  A common mistake is to play this variation much faster than the theme simply because of that long first down bow.  One trick that helps is when you finish the theme keep counting the quarter note rests at the end of measure  10, and then count off the two quarter note rests in measure 49.  (Almost like you were making a cut!)  You can do the same thing at the end [...]

Exploring Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony — by Jonathan Pegis

Here in just a few measures is an excerpt that has confused, befuddled, and downright scared more cellists than just about any other excerpt (please click image to enlarge): The theme from the second movement of Beethoven's fifth, along with the first two variations, shows up on the vast majority of cello audition lists.  I thought it would be educational to spend some time exploring this theme, and future blogs will explore the first and second variations.  To begin with, this excerpt is one of a handful that I have coached for many years where I am actually LESS confident than I used to be.  Why?  Because every teacher, every coach, and every conductor has had radically different ideas about all the different aspects of this theme.  Temp, color, dynamic, [...]

Playing Audition Excerpts: Yes, the Devil’s in Them — by Brant Taylor

Although the collection of excerpts on an audition repertoire list may seem arbitrary, each one has a purpose: giving the audition candidate an opportunity to demonstrate certain things about his or her playing and artistry. Audition success involves showing a command of certain basic elements—such as rhythm, dynamics, intonation and articulations—as well as conveying a nuanced understanding of the music and the composer. A well crafted audition list will include excerpts that emphasize each of these elements, and a candidate’s ability to demonstrate control and understanding of them will determine his or her chance for success. Let's put these goals into concrete terms using a common cello audition excerpt as an illustration—the opening of the second movement of Brahms' Symphony No. 2:   Brahms Second Symphony, 2nd Mvt. [...]

Finesse — by Brant Taylor

Any musician who has interests outside the realm of music has probably discovered ideas and concepts important to other disciplines which are directly applicable to the study and performance of music.  The lessons we can learn about greatness from outside our own field are often very powerful because the underlying principles tend to be universal and not confined to any single discipline.  For the famed American chef Thomas Keller, there is one word he uses to describe his entire philosophy of approaching his craft at the highest level: finesse.  Chef Keller apparently doesn't want anyone who works for him to forget it—the word and its dictionary definition are emblazoned directly on the tiles above the entrance to the kitchen at Per Se, his high-end (and delicious) New York City restaurant: [...]

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