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Violin Lessons: Sevcik - Op. 8

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[MUSIC]
The Sevcik Opus 8 etudes
teach the basic shifting motion.
And Mr. Sevcik was nothing if not very
complete.
This book has tons of combinations of
various shifts.
And Opus 8 is organized [COUGH] by how
many positions you're shifting.
So the first set trains moving from first
to second position,
second to third, et cetera.
Then, the next set goes from first to
third, second to fourth.
So in each set of exercises, your hand is
moving a greater distance.
And there may be intermediate shifts in
between, but
the total distance your hand travels gets
greater and greater with each passing set.
So the basic shifting motion is that you
have a solid finger.
[MUSIC]
That pressure gets released.
[SOUND] Then the hand moves.
[SOUND] Then the pressure, pressure
returns.
[SOUND] So when you're building up the
shift,
you want the time spent on those
whistle tones, or the ghost notes,
you want that time to get less and less.
The important thing is to keep your bow
pressure in the beginning, especially
while you're building up the shifting
motion, while you're building good habits.
It's tempting to release the bow pressure
to try and hide the shift.
[MUSIC]
But that leads to a really bad habit which
is always release, releasing the bow
pressure during a shift.
And there are many times when we wanna
keep that bow pressure for
expressive shifts.
And besides that, it's never a good idea
to build
breaks or portato [SOUND] into the bow
stroke.
It's easy to add those kind of things in
where you need them,
it's a lot harder to get rid of that habit
once it's in there.
So you keep the bow pressure to hear the
whistle tone.
You focus on minimizing the time spent on
the whistle tone.
[MUSIC]
Now you can
certainly practice
these shifts more
expressively.
But the beginning motion should be the
transportation shift that you can
comfortably get around to the fingerboard
without hearing the shift.
Now you can see so many exercises in here.
You come up with your own strategy to
cover a good number of
different hand distances.
For example, you might pick one number
from the first set that goes from first to
second, second to third.
Pick a number from the second set, number
from the third set, and so on.
Maybe you'll do three sets in a day.
Notice also that Sevcik organizes it by
string.
You don't need to do all four strings in
each exercise.
You might do the G string from number one,
a D string from number three.
And then you'd move to the next set that
goes from first to third position,
second to fourth, third to fifth.
And you might do A string from one of
those numbers and
E string from a different one.
The point is to constantly challenge your
hand once it's mastered something.
You'd also like to mix up the key
signatures.
These are all written with no accidentals.
So, this very first one, let's add one
sharp.
[MUSIC]
That's one way to get all
the intervals in there.
You can also mix up the bowings.
In the beginning you may be pray,
playing this slowly enough that you don't
want to have to save so much bow.
[MUSIC]
In that case go ahead and split.
Do two bows per bar rather than the one
that's written.
The important thing is building that
motion, a smooth motion.
Now, what these exercises also do is build
up a great pitch memory in your head.
And one exercise that can be difficult but
that can pay big rewards if you feel
like your pitch isn't centered is to sing
along with your own playing, or
alternating with your playing.
So to sing one bar.
[MUSIC]
While fingering
the notes on the violin.
Then you play it, and you see how closely
those pitches match.
Even if you're not a great singer, as I
obviously am not, it's helpful
to have the pitch coming from, from you
than to have it come from the instrument.
Because in the end, the pitch always has
to come from you,
the instrument's only a means to express
that.
One final technique, if you have a
keyboard around, and
this, this gets very advanced, this is a
technique from my old teacher Dan Mason.
You can play the notes on the piano.
You can set the bow down.
Play the notes on the piano while you
finger them on the violin.
So, what I have just sung before you would
play.
[SOUND] And not only that, you should use
the same fingers
on the piano keys that you're using on the
violin.
This makes all kinds of amazing
connections that can't easily be made in
another way.
If you want to make it even more, more
advanced and, and build that pitch center
even more strongly, you can play with the
finger you're using on the violin and
sing and finger the notes on the violin at
the same time.
This relates the two hands, the pitch, the
voice.
And I think you'll find that after doing
that,
these shifts will be a whole lot easier.
[MUSIC]