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 23 – Feuillard No. 34 – Variations #26-40)

  Today's variations will work on 16th note rhythm patterns using a detaché stroke with the lower arm and string crossings with the upper arm.  The problems are all similar, so the video clips will show Tristan playing just a few measures of each variation. However, during the lesson he played each variation in its entirety. Variations #26-29:   Variations #30-33:   These variations are similar to the previous ones, but they add bow distribution into the mix. That means we have to try to get the same sound at the frog and the tip. At the tip the main issue will be to use the down bows to get back to the tip each time so that we don't creep to the middle.  It is helpful to use [...]

The Joy of Feuillard – A Sequential Approach to Teaching Bow Technique (Part 14 – Feuillard No. 33 – Variations #10-20)

This week we will continue with variations dealing with staccato, flying spiccato, bow distribution, and some asymmetrical bowings. Variations #10 and #11: These next two variations continue with the issues of alternating staccato and legato, plus bow distribution. In Variation #10 I reminded Iestyn about his left arm level and vibrato while he was playing. Using "sign language" can help heighten awareness while playing without stopping the "performance". Even though these are right arm bowing exercises, it is important to also pay attention to the left arm as well. Students can get into bad habits - or they can correct bad habits - since there are so many repetitions of the variations. In this case, I was reminding him that there is a twist motion from the back when going [...]

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 [...]

The Joy of Feuillard – A Sequential Approach to Teaching Bow Technique (Part 12 – Feuillard No. 33 – Theme and Variations #1-3)

Part 12 -  Feuillard No. 33 - Theme and Variations #1-3 The theme of Feuillard No. 32 was all in first position. With this week's blog we will start looking at the next page, Feuillard No. 33, which has a scalar theme that goes up to fourth position. As a result of the shorter string length in the higher positions, there are some new playing issues that involve the contact point. The rule that was mentioned in an earlier blog is: "the shorter the string length, the lower the contact point". And since the contact point is lower (closer to the bridge), we must also adjust the weight accordingly ("the closer to the bridge, the more weight"). This page is a good example of how Feuillard presents the bowing material in [...]

The Joy of Feuillard – A Sequential Approach to Teaching Bow Technique (Part 7 – Feuillard #32, Variations 8-11)

Part 7 -  Feuillard #32 - Variations 8-11 In watching these videos, you will have noticed that I am continually asking Caroline questions. This is part of the so-called Socratic or Talmudic method of teaching, in which we ask questions rather than just telling the student what to do. The student is encouraged to consider the problem and verbalize a response. I think that this is a really important approach to teaching because we are constantly challenging the students to analyze and talk about what they are thinking. If the students can verbalize something they will understand it better, and it will be lodged deeper in their psyches. And instead of just spoon-feeding information we are helping them to figure out the answers. When students understand how important that is, [...]

The Joy of Feuillard – A Sequential Approach to Teaching Bow Technique (Part 6 – Feuillard #32, Variations #4-7)

Part 6 -  Feuillard #32 - Variations 4-7 Before working on the next few variations, I like to help refine the student's understanding of intonation. In Part 5 we talked about the basic concepts of using the perfect intervals to check the intonation with the open strings. We also helped to organize the left hand in first position by checking the first and fourth fingers with the open strings, thus creating a clear "structure" for the left hand (for most people the tendency is for the first finger to be sharp and the fourth finger to be flat in first position). I usually like to give the students at least a week to sort this all out, so that they can play the theme with more stable intonation, especially regarding [...]

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