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Violin Lessons: Brahms - Symphony #4, 4th Mvt, 8 before Reh. B - D

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In this last movement of Brahms' fourth
there are many different challenges.
It's a very popular excerpt.
And for good reason I'm gonna start by
telling you a story of my very first
audition for an orchestra, which was the
Philadelphia Orchestra.
And this was one of the excerpts asked and
I had a great fingering all planned out.
It was all on the G string and had a great
sound and I was hitting it, you know,
a good half the time in the practice room.
And I got to the audition and
this excerpt was asked, but I was asked to
start at rehearsal B.
And I never started at rehearsal B before
in practicing.
I'd always started from the beginning.
And that threw me into a weird space and
the tempo I chose was not a good one and
my fingering plan kind of fell apart.
And the, the G string wasn't speaking
And I did not advance past that round.
And so, there were two big things I
learned from that,
which was most importantly, don't plan any
bowings, dynamics, et cetera that are not
within your comfort zone.
So, that's part preparation.
You have to prepare the music far enough
ahead that,
that you increase your comfort zone
But you, you also can't live on the edge
in an audition.
Not that you have to make all safe musical
choices or, or play in a boring way, but
you have to, you have to take auditions
which you can comfortably play this music.
And the fingerings you chose,
the strings you chose, all are part of
that overall decision.
And so, I learned this is not the place
for that fingering and maybe,
it doesn't even sound all that great on
all on G string [LAUGH] anyway.
The second major lesson was that you need
to able to start
your excerpt from anywhere.
An orchestra may ask for a big excerpt
like this whole page of
the Brahms Symphony but they may only
wanna hear part of it.
And you need to be able to grab a tempo
a character from within any part of the
So, that's food for thought.
An excerpt like this that has many
different sections and many different
rhythmic sub-divisions, the pulse has to
remain the same for the whole thing.
So, in addition to thinking ahead.
For example, if you are asked to start the
traditional beginning of this excerpt,
which would be a few bars before B, it's
probably better to think further ahead,
perhaps to 16ths or even the sixes that
come near the bottom of the page.
So, that gives you your quarter.
What I hear very often in this excerpt is
that you get locked into a slow tempo.
You start the beginning slow because it's
slower notes,
there's time to be expressive.
But then the pulse has either the pulse
stays the same and
it's boring it really sits.
Or the pulse gets pulled around because it
changes for every rhythmic change.
So, if you look at actually how many
different rhythms thee are on this page,
you'll see that you're gonna wanna check
them with a metronome.
And this is not, I don't think,
this is not an excerpt to play straight
through with the metronome.
Rather what you'd wanna do is get yourself
a tempo for
the very beginning and then play to the
next section, play into the next section.
And then, stop and check and see if you've
maintained the pulse in this new section.
If you haven't, remember which way you
Did you get faster, did you get slower?
And then, repeat the same thing again.
Try it again.
See if you're able to maintain the pulse.
That way you're not letting the metronome
do the work for you.
It's not a crutch.
You're using it as it's meant to be used
as a tool to check.
And there are a whole bunch of rhythmic
Let's go through a few of them.
The first is really from halves and
quarters to eighths.
So, if I pick it up a few before B.
So, one way to practice this would be to
fill in the eighth notes.
That way the syncopations that come right
before B, will get the proper
the proper weight, the proper relationship
to the eighths that come up.
The next one, you have letter C.
Two things often happen there at C.
Often the tempo, often slows down.
And the 16th doesn't get the proper
proportion, the proper relationship.
Here you really wanna be hearing all the
So that, it's not double dotted.
It's just a true weighty 16th note.
And then you've got a whole passage of
Same there and those rest you want to be
continuing the 16ths in your mind.
Finally sixes.
And then, the excerpt closes with 16ths
combined with string crossing.
So, there's a lot going on here,
and we haven't even gotten into sound
quality and pitch.
Let's talk about just a fingering for
the highest passage which is after C.
Here it's a tenth, you can reach the
Then reach back to one.
And finally shift.
I remember once playing this for, for
And when, I got to that place.
And they saw me, they saw me about to
reach over for that tenth.
They said, wimp.
Don't need to buy into that.
If a wimp plays it in tune and
wins the audition then, then that wimp is
a happy person.
So the only times you wanna avoid
so-called safe fingerings like that or
when they compromise the character or the
So, crossing over to the A string there
makes so much sense.
There, there's hardly any advantage to be
gained, staying on the E string there.
And there's a lot to lose, if you're not
comfortable with the shift up the C sharp.
So, I, I find that in that register, that
the A string sounds nice,
little sound brilliant at least for a
couple notes at a time, as it is there.
Now, the fingerings for the sixes.
I like to start in the position.
So that I get the gutsy G string sound
right away, and
I don't have to shift during the fast run.
And the same here.
Now I shift up to two, so I'm in position.
And that's how you close the excerpt.
The string crossings near the end can be
done with the wrist.
It's just two, two strings involved, so
you want it nice and even.