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Violin Lessons: String Crossings

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A lot of difficulties arrive
in violin playing through string
You're gonna have frequent string
We only have four strings and a whole lot
of notes to play, but
the problems come when the string
crossings don't follow regular patterns or
when they must happen quickly and you
don't want them audible.
Remember that the arm is the basic leader
for string crossings.
Your arm level determines what string
you're playing on, or
I should say, the string you're playing on
determines your arm level, and
when you need to change that the arm
should anticipate slightly the crossing.
So, if I were gonna play a simple G major
scale I would not
want the arm just to move as I crossed
That's a very inefficient way to play, and
as soon as I have to play something that
requires crossing back and
forth, my arm's gonna be working like that
it's gonna look and sound pretty jerky.
Rather, what I'd like to do is when I
start the scale I may be very well on
the G string level, but as I play those
four notes on the G string,
I wanna move as close to the D as I can.
Now there's hardly any change at all to go
to the D, and I do the same thing on the D
Note by note, I work my arm level toward
the A so
that when I play it in any kind of fluid
tempo, it looks like
one motion from the arm so we go from this
to this.
So that takes some training,
some practice, because it's gonna be
different in every tempo.
If I had to play the scale faster the arm
would simply respond.
So that's why you practice.
When you practice slowly, you should also
practice this arm coordination.
Just as you practice, you can practice
fast fingers in a slow tempo,
you should practice the smooth bow in a
slow tempo,
because that's what you're going to need
when you speed it up.
Now, there are also articulated string
Sometimes if notes are in different
strings but
you still want them articulated, you can
finger it such that you
create more string crossings to help with
the articulation.
If it's a more brilliant passage,
one where you want stronger sounds from
the bow then
you don't need to worry about the
You can use the arms at different levels
to create the articulation.
When it's quick back and
forth crossings that you want,
ones that don't need to be audible, the
wrist is perfect.
So, in many etudes and excerpts that
you'll find here on the site,
you'll see where I cross between two
strings with the wrist.
So in that example I just played, if I
didn't want so much articulation.
I'd park my arm on the A and E string
[SOUND] And just use the wrist to go from
string to string.
[SOUND] And that's perfect for
those quick changes that don't need their
own articulation.
So, remember that each string has many
different levels
in addition to the basic four arm levels
of the four strings.
One final thing that can help is to take a
passage that contains difficult string
crossings and to get rid of the fingers to
practice only the open strings.
You would play an open string on the
string you would be fingering.
So, if we take the famous Kreutzer Number
Two Etude.
Here, the string crossings are not super
challenging but if I wanted to practice
the open string
exercise I'd hover my fingers above the
And I'd work that to play up to tempo, and
when I do that I'm concentrating only on
the string crossings and
I'm able to hear which ones are clean,
which ones are not quite clean.
So, in the video that you send me for
string crossings,
I'd like to see a scale on four strings
slurred, as I demonstrated before.
With one smooth motion of the arm.
I'd also like you to do the same thing
with separate bows,
because the same thing applies.
Then, show me some passage
that's on two strings.
You can either pick something from the
repertoire or
you can make your own exercise.
I'd like to see it slurred first.
That'll show me your wrist movement for
crossing over two strings, and
then show it to me with separate bows as
Finally, pick something, a passage either
in the repertoire or something you make up
Play it for me, and then show me how you
would practice with the open strings.