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Violin Lessons: Dvořák - Goin' Home

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Goin' Home by Dvorak is of course
the theme from the slow movement of his
New World symphony.
And, because it's also used as a song,
no surprise, we want a very smooth tone,
very smooth connections between bows and
between notes with the left hand.
And since we're using the original key
here of D flat major,
that means it's not exactly the most
comfortable key for the violin.
But it's very important for the sound of
the movement.
This, this song and this movement simply
wouldn't sound the same
in a more comfortable key, like D major.
So this begins on the G string, and
even we advanced players need a reminder
to check our arm level for
the G string, to make sure that we're
getting a, a deep and rich sound.
Rather than a more shallow sound that
you might get if your arm is kind of
dragging behind.
Now, as with so many other
pieces with simple rhythms and,
in fact, repetitive rhythms.
The shapes you choose are so important for
the overall feel.
And, you want to avoid, since the, since
the rhythms and
notes can be repetitive, you want to avoid
shapes that are also repetitive, and,
shaping on the violin, of course, is all
about the bow.
And in this arrangement, sometimes we have
to fight the bowings that are here.
Some music works out great with the
perfect bowing.
Every shape just goes with the direction
of the bow.
And some music seems to resist that.
And so there are gonna be times when
you're making a crescendo on a down bow
instead of the more comfortable opposite.
You need to end a phrase on a down-bow
without accenting it and in fact,
we have of all those challenges right in
the beginning here.
Because I'd like to go to the second bar
and then away from the third bar.
Now we could just start
the whole thing up-bow and
that would solve a couple of our problems.
But it might introduce others as well.
So we're gonna stick with this.
The first challenge is just getting a nice
And to get a soft start on the violin,
especially on the G string.
I find it very helpful to practice
just as close as you can to the string
without actually touching it.
Now, I know some soloists that do this as
a warm up when they're backstage,
just a millimeter above the string,
they might even draw a pretend bow as
close to the string as they can.
And it just builds the, the control the,
the feel of exactly where the bow is.
But for now, if you're hovering just a bit
above the string,
rather than dropping the bow onto the
it's helpful in this case to actually
nudge the violin up into the bow.
The reason for that is,
if you have an object in either hand.
Let's say you have a bowling ball in one
hand and a,
a little pencil in the other hand.
As soon as you try this, you'll see what I
Which one is easier to move smoothly?
And many people, until they try it, they
may think, well,
it's easier to move the pencil smoothly,
cuz it's so much lighter.
But in fact, you'll see when you lift that
hand to move the pencil,
the hand wants to shake and, you know,
it's not gonna be very steady.
The bowling ball, to move the arm or the
hand at all, it has to be smooth.
There's no way you can shake doing that.
So here, we've got the violin, a much
bigger object.
It's the easiest thing in the world just
to nudge that smoothly.
I do that for every soft start that I need
to make from silence.
And then all the usual things
about [COUGH] if I want to crescendo on a
Okay, maybe it's not as natural as
crescendoing on an up-bow, but
I simply speed up the bow during the
down-bow, and
I keep that fast bow speed into the
And if I don't want an accent on that
third bar of A, then I simply don't speed
up the bow when I play that note.
So that'll be your task for
all the shapes you choose in here and
of course I've given my,
my sample shapes, my ideas here.
But you're free to come up with your own.
And when you do, just use bow speed to
make them happen.
[COUGH] now, at letter C,
this is already the third time that we've
heard this, the beginning of this tune.
And I like to keep it simple, so
I don't make any obvious shapes there for
four bars.
At D, we're repeating the tune now in a, a
different register, a higher octave.
And so let's have a different sound,
even if we're going to call both versions
We had first the G string piano.
Now, on the A string,
in addition to doing some slightly
different shaping,
as you'll see in my version of the music.
Let's have a lighter, a more,
you might even call it a more feminine
And oftentimes, we say that because of the
tradition of opera.
In Mozart operas, for example, there, you
have two characters.
They're either on the same page where
they're arguing, and
the man says the thing, the woman says
another thing.
And rather than having them sing in
exactly the same way,
one character has a voice and the other
character has a different voice so
they're, that's the masculine and feminine
tradition, so.
As we know, men and women each run the
gamut of emotions, but
the feminine sound here at D would be that
lighter, slightly airier sound.
And the fact is you just don't need as
much bow pressure on the A string anyway,
so that works out well in this register.
And it's another case where we have to
fight the bowing a little bit.
We come into that up-bow, and yet I want
to shape from the downbeat.
So you might say,
why didn't you make up
better bowings for this?
[LAUGH] And as I said, you change a bowing
one way and it solves one problem but
it may introduce another.
Plus it's a great great practice and a
great challenge because, as you know,
if you've ever played in an orchestra of
any kind,
you don't always get to choose the
And you have to make your music no matter
what the bowing is in front of you.
Lastly, before F we have a final
because I wanna be down-bow at F.
And so that very last note before F is a
long up-bow diminuendo.
So that's the final
bowing challenge in this beautiful
version of Goin' Home.