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Violin Lessons: I've Been Working on the Railroad

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[MUSIC]
All right.
We've got I've Been Working on the
Railroad, also known as the Levee Song.
And here the meter, the time signature
looks scary,
12, 8, but it's such a familiar tune.
It's just a convenient way of writing
triplets basically.
So Battle Hymn was written with dotted
rhythms.
This one's written in 12, 8.
They both look a little weird, but they're
performed the same way.
[MUSIC]
Now what we're really dealing with
in this one is mixing separate bowings and
hooked bowings.
Same rhythm, but different ways of playing
them.
So you can either play.
[MUSIC]
Or.
[MUSIC]
It really depends on where in the bow you
need to be, where in the bow you need to
go.
For example, if you want to look at bar
eight excuse me,
the bar before B, you've got a really long
note.
And so for that, you wanna be starting at
the tip, because it's on an up bow.
So you have to plan the bowings before
hand to get there.
And so that's why we need practice mixing
hooked bowings and separate bowings.
We'll also play in half position a little
bit and
we'll get to go in to third position at
the very end.
But those are easy, easy moments you'll
see.
So the challenge with these,
the pattern right in the beginning at
letter A is that you don't
wanna accent those down bows, those
separate down bows.
The bowing is.
[MUSIC]
And I keep coming back to the fact that so
many of these are songs and so you, of
course,
you wouldn't sing, I've been working on.
[SOUND] But that's exactly what happens
sometimes when we try to bow it.
Because the down bows are shorter and
because they're down bows,
they can easily get accented.
So just use your ears to even these out.
[MUSIC]
Rather than.
[MUSIC]
And similarly there,
I want that long note on a down bow,
so I hook just before.
So you've got, we've got a slower version
and a quicker version of this one,
so that you can practice what at first
looked like complicated bowings.
Speaking of this being a song, actually
singing the song,
cuz I'm sure you know the words is a great
way to practice direction.
Again, it's not too early to think about
direction and phrasing in these tunes.
And singing it will remind you, hey, maybe
I'm making some accents,
maybe I'm making some strange spaces where
they don't belong.
Because every time you have an ending of
the phrase
I've been working on the railroad all the
live long day,
that's where you'd take a breath and
that's where we make a bow circle.
[MUSIC]
So
since our bow is really our breath as
violinists as string players,
we make a bow circle often for when it's
time to breathe.
So the second bow circle, you're make is
going to take you to letter B.
And right there is where you're going to
substitute the second finger for
the first and that puts you in half
position.
[MUSIC]
Hand stays where it is.
[MUSIC]
And
then you put the one back up and now we're
back into first.
So you only stayed in the half position
for three notes.
[MUSIC]
And why do we go
into half position?
Well, because there's really only two good
alternatives.
One would be, just to shift the one
around.
[SOUND] But that really requires some
quick timing and
it's not worth it, it's likely to be
unclean.
Another thing you could do is cross
strings.
[MUSIC]
But I don't like crossing strings for
just one note like that.
I like to keep things on the same string
if it's part of the same phrase
when I can.
I suppose a third alternative would be
shifting into third position there, but
that's a complex solution for a very
simple problem and
then you wouldn't be able to practice half
position.
So look at three after B.
Here's a place to stay at the tip of the
bow.
So here at B.
[MUSIC]
Now we're at the tip and stay there.
[MUSIC]
For the long note.
[MUSIC]
Now, at C when we get into
the Dina section of the song we have,
again speaking of phrasing, we have a
phrasing pattern.
I don't know if you've ever thought about
the phrasing patterns in railroad,
but it's a pattern that's actually going
to come back later in Bach and
Mozart and lots of great classical pieces
that we'll study,
two short phrases and one longer one.
So we've got two times, one bar.
[SOUND] And then again one bar.
[SOUND] Now two bars.
[MUSIC]
So keep those dotted quarters nice and
smooth and connected.
And see even simple and well known songs
like this, some of the time the reason
they have such long lasting appeal is
because they do nice things with phrasing.
They avoid being square by having patterns
like that, short, short, long.
Skip ahead if you would to letter E.
Here's a great place where, even though
you have rests stay on the string.
Again, I stay on the string when I can to
keep control.
[MUSIC]
Only here, we need a bow circle.
[MUSIC]
You can stay on until
the end of the song now.
[MUSIC]
Shift during the open
string to third position.
[MUSIC]
Because you're shifting on an open string
you have plenty of time to make a nice,
relaxed shift up two positions to third
position.
[MUSIC]