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Violin Lessons: Kreutzer 2

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Kreutzer's second etude is
actually the most famous etude in the
And the man who made it famous at least
after generations of violinists had
studied it, the man who put it onto the
international stage was Jack Benny.
And as I'm privileged to play Jack Benny's
old violin,
this is Jack Benny's Stradivarius.
I feel a special kinship with this etude.
Basic etude, but very extendable with
I've talked to many people who've said,
I, I got to play Paganini's violin that he
composed the Caprices on.
Or, you know, this is the violin that
premiered the Brahms' Violin Concerto.
And other this is you know, the violin
that made Kreutzer too famous.
[LAUGH] So Jack Benny used to play it.
Much to the chagrin of the various
teachers that would work with him on the
You gotta YouTube this if you haven't.
It's quite, quite the show, quite the
See, Jack Benny actually could play the
violin quite well.
He toured and would play shows with
But he knew just how to play as an
absolute beginner to great effect.
So what he was missing in his act on the
show were a couple of things.
A basic hand frame, this etude is great
building that because there is not a lot
of shifting around.
And it's in the key of C Major which
entails a lot of reaching back
with the first finger for F naturals.
So everything in this etude that's in
first position, which most of it is,
should be played with a very relaxed hand
and a basic frame.
That means that rather than moving the
hand around, leaning the hand back
to get these different notes, you simply
reach back the first finger.
You reach it back, reach it back up.
You've got threes and fours to play.
Remember, if you go back to the lesson on
basic hand frame,
you want three and four to feel
comfortable in your frame.
You don't want to have to be reaching up
for them.
You can see that puts strain on the hand,
and it flattens out the fourth finger
even if you have a, a decent sized fourth
finger as I do.
You want to be reaching back with one and
The stroke for this,
the basic stroke for this is a,
is a simple detache.
So, the other workout that the bow gets
here are the string crossings.
So you wanna make sure to anticipate those
crossings with your arm.
You can see my arm and my hand starting
to move to the new string ever so slightly
That's what will give you
a smooth motion when you play it faster.
What you don't want is to build in a
robotic motion slowly.
Because when that gets faster,
it is gonna be tiring and ultimately less
Here's what a smooth motion looks like in
So that you can
practice slowly as long
as you make it smooth.
Now, as far as the pitch,
you have to listen very carefully to match
pitches that come back.
This is in C major.
There are a whole lotta Cs here.
So you can listen just for the Cs, for
to make sure they're all the same.
And that shouldn't be too
hard a task if your frame is remaining
If you, the hand is moving around, the
thumb, the fingers,
then you may find that that two just
doesn't wanna go down in the same place.
It's like the old joke about violists.
The, how are violists and lightning, how
are violists' fingers and
lightning the same?
They never strike the same place twice.
You don't want your hand to, to reflect
Now, the fun part of this, and the
challenging part, are the variations.
Depending on what edition of this book you
have, you'll see various variations
up there listed and many of those were
written Kreutzer himself.
He loved, all of the etude writers,
they loved writing variations on their own
etudes, and they expected
their students and the future people
playing the etudes to do the same.
So, some that are really useful are ones
that have uneven bowings.
As you can see there, you've got one long
bow and one short bow three slurred, one
So the challenge is to keep from working
yourself all the way to the tip.
Which happens within a few bows,
unless you compensate a little.
That separate note needs a, a little more
bow and a lighter bow to prevent from,
to keep it from sounding like an accent.
The slurred notes need to save.
It's hard to keep it totally
as smooth as it was sound with a more even
But the, the challenge that's build into
that bowing builds some great abilities
to, to hide accents and things like that.
Next you have the standard dotted rhythms.
And its counterpart.
This does two things.
It's, again, the challenge of saving and
spending bow, so
that you don't work yourself down to one
end of the bow or the other.
But it also promotes evenness in the
because one finger change always ends up
being quick, very quick.
To get the most out of that,
you need to do the exercise as tight a
dotted rhythm as possible.
So that actually prepares your hands to
play the etude faster.
The hook the dotted rhythms should be done
separate like that but also hooked.
If you can get through it like that,
you'll actually see that it's pretty easy
to get it faster because
your fingers one by one have been making
those quick changes.
There are also nice slurred
variations, uneven slurs.
That was three slurred and two slurred so
that's a little bit of a mental challenge
as well because even though the notes
are grouped in fours, now your slurs are
making it really groups of five.
So, that's something to throw a wrench
into your mental space there.
Nice thing that you can do with this basic
Another important one and the last one
that I'll talk about now, although we
could go on forever is one where you play
separate bows and you repeat notes.
It's easier done than said.
So I play one, first the note,
and then I play three second notes.
So it's basically a group of four, but
again it's uneven.
And they're three in one.
Those two variations together are
important because they
force you to coordinate the right hand
with the left hand,
and it prepares you to play in this tempo.
In spiccato, but
it gives your hand a lit, it gives your
fingers a little,
a little bit of a break because only every
other change is very fast.
So if you practice those two.
Then shortly, it'll be no problem to play
the whole thing in spiccato at that tempo,
if you like.
All right, have fun with Kreutzer 2.