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Violin Lessons: Stars and Stripes

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Here we have The Stars And
Stripes Forever, great march by Sousa.
Often when, I don't know why people get
Star Spangled Banner and Stars And
Stripes confused.
I can't tell you how many times I've heard
the American national anthem
called Stars and Stripes, but, this is the
true Stars and Stripes uptempo march.
And it gives us a chance to try out lots
of different bow strokes.
So, you'll want to know where your bow is.
Is it coming from on or off the string?
In middle or on?
And then, of course, there are issues of
coordination in this one because it's
an uptempo and we've got some separate
eighth notes as well.
Also quick dynamic changes, dynamic
switches from forte, fortissimo, piano.
This one's a blast, and we're just one
violin and yet
we have to imitate a bunch of instruments
in a big band, and so
yeah, get to wear many hats, not all of
them string-related.
So, at letter A, I like to play those,
those notes, and
in fact notes like them in this piece on
the string fortissimo.
It's the same before letter G.
This happens a lot in orchestra as well,
where it's fortissimo, they're marcato
and some people would prefer to play them
But I find that you just don't get enough
sound and
if you do start getting enough sound, it's
often very rough.
It's percussive and
that can be appropriate for some things.
But, for something like this, I want more
sound, less noise.
And you just have total control with
the bow on the string, big heavy mar,
Letter B.
These notes are quick enough that you
don't have time to set them,
so they just come from off the string.
that's just all
off the string.
And that, that's the natural bounce of the
At letter C, there is contrast.
You've got two competing groups of the
band going, so you've got the.
So, really, lay into
that lower line on the G string.
And at D don't be stingy with the bow.
Go ahead and use the whole bow.
Or as much of it as you can manage in
the tempo but imagine that you were
performing this for
people and that you've got, you know, 32
violins there.
The visual aspect is important as well and
it just gives you more sound.
[COUGH] At letter E.
This is, of course, the, the trio section,
and the, the key changes, so watch for
that, because right away, you've got a
D-flat that you want to be prepared for.
And this sound, of course, not just piano,
More, more tender.
And there are these strange accents in
there, in the, in the middle of the bar,
in the middle of the bow.
And think of those as expressive.
You don't need to stop the bow for those.
just adds a little.
It keeps it from turning into too sweet of
a song.
It's still a march even though it's the
trio section.
At letter F, get on the G string, all
ready for these pickups.
And the quarters with dots on them can be
off the string, so when, even though we've
This is at G now.
So you bring out the eighth
note with the colle action.
And then those dots,
dotted quarters just come off the string.
And, at letter H, you get to be the
piccolo and I have to tell a little story.
My grandfather was a member of the
Philadelphia orchestra and
they, Philadelphia, a very patriotic city
of course, and
in the summers, they would play outdoor
And The Stars and Stripes was always a big
attraction there.
And here at letter H in this section, all
the flutes pick up piccolos instead.
And they all four, or however many there
may be, they would all four stand up.
They would even put on little army hats
and they would play this trio section.
It's a big piccolo solo that they all have
to practice.
And so these turns that are in there, they
start on the main note.
And just, you articulate the main note.
And of course,
the challenge is that it goes quicker than
So you have real trills where they're
marked and then you have turns.
So right there,
you need a little articulation.
And so, turns,
just remember that you articulate the main
And then the trilling, the turning finger,
is just the decoration there.
Finally, to close this out at letter I,
you have to be,
the whole band, including the low brass.
So you're not gonna make as much, quite as
much sound as they can, but
use the whole bow, use whatever you can.
You're on a middle string and I kept it
that way on purpose.
Because I want you to get as much quality
sound as you can on the middle string.
Which means you have to be, even though
you're, you're going all out,
you have to be aware of your string level,
not to hit the extras.
So, this isn't a place for
subtle shapes.
You're just keeping the bow locked right
into the string.
Great sounding point.
Close to the bridge as you can manage
without the sound getting hard, and
then you just end it.
With a single three-note chord,
all three notes at once.
That's the last flourish of Stars and