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Violin Lessons: Mendelssohn - Midsummer Night's Dream Scherzo mm. 17 - 19

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Mendelssohn's Scherzo from
A Midsummer Night's Dream is in some ways
the classic control excerpt.
There are many difficulties here, and
they're, they're combined.
The, the basic ones are getting a
controlled piano stroke off the string
and navigating the string crossings while
keeping it nice and even.
This excerpt tends to run ahead.
I don't know if it's the, it's the, of
course nerves always, but
I think the rhythm in three tends to, to
make us wanna roll forward.
So, this one is a great one to play with
the metronome on some big beats, different
parts of the bar, and really just
developing that feeling of sitting back.
Let's look at the basic stroke for the
sixteenth notes.
So, as usual, I like to feel the,
the pressure in all my fingers on the bow
and the thumb the same.
So, I have the thumb and forefingers all
with the same pressure.
The bow, well in hand.
In other words, not dangling from the
fingers with a, a droopy wrist or anything
like that, but, but picked up into the
hand, so, that I have the most control.
The way I prefer to play it, the bow,
the stick jumps, but the hair either
doesn't leave the string or
just barely leaves the string.
I find that more than that gives me a
noisier articulation than I want.
That, that might sound like this.
not a bad sound.
It's, it's more articulation than I like,
I find it easier to control when it's even
closer to the string.
So, I do that partly,
by tilting the bow here.
Tilting the stick away from me in the
normal tilt direction.
And by imagining a distance from the
string that's, that's very small.
I think of this definitely horizontally
when I start, and in fact,
the start is the most important part of
this as it is in most excerpts.
I start from the string, and I have a very
consistent starting routine.
My start up-bow.
And you'll wanna
build that routine, too.
As usual, it, it, the routine starts from
down in the resting position.
And, like a,
like athletes that you'll see, golfers,
maybe, or tennis players.
There's not a lot of fuss, once they get
ready to do something,
the routine is already in motion and they
You, you rarely see a great golfer step up
to the ball and just stand there, waiting.
And so, it should be the same with you.
Once you get the instrument up, you have a
whole routine that goes into place.
I do like to give myself that cue.
It's a luxury that I don't really have
when I'm playing it in
the orchestra because the conductor gives
the cue.
And chooses when to start giving it.
But, in orchestra, I would breathe with
the conductor's cue.
In an audition,
even though it's a pressure situation, you
have the luxury of deciding that.
So, you give the cue.
You decide the timing and you breathe with
your own cue.
Now, the beginning is only piano.
Meaning that it's not pianissimo.
That comes, later on at rehearsal C.
So, as with most of these softer excerpts,
give yourself an extra cushion.
It should be a comfortable sound.
There's no reason to live on the edge
there because not only won't you have any
room at the pianissimo you, you may not
even make it to the pianissimo, evenly.
So, let's talk about the crescendos that
Those, I think, are pretty subtle, and
they, they're done, so,
as not to change the sound, they're done
with amount of bow.
So, that as I crescendo,
I get freer with the bow, more horizontal,
[COUGH] rather than more vertical.
Now, coming in to C, where you have the
pianissimo, a nice little trick,
a little acoustic trickery, is to bump up
your dynamic slightly before C.
So, if you've been, pretty soft, you can
use the repeated sforzandos before C as
an implied mini crescendo, so, that you're
ending C a little bit more than piano.
That way you can make a nice difference
for the pianissimo without feeling, like,
you're playing your absolute minimum.
Then, you have plenty of room for that
pianissimo at C.
And with a good start, and continuing to
sit back on this one, and
keeping the stroke throughout, you'll have
success in this excerpt.