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Violin Lessons: Brahms - 1st Movement Exposition

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Brahm's violin concerto is a great piece
to play, well, in general but
it's a great piece to play in an audition
as well because it shows so
many things about the violinist right from
the start.
So, it's high risk but high reward.
See, it requires amazing focus right from
the beginning.
There are, unfortunately, several things
that can go astray right in the beginning.
But if you can have that focused sound and
if you know exactly what your plan
is with the bow and if you have a relaxed
left hand,
then you can really pull off a great
beginning to your audition.
So the sound needs to be exciting right
from the start.
>> So, that's a quick set and release.
And already with vibrato,
leading into those fives.
[SOUND] The pressure of the bow
into the string.
The focus of the bow in the string, has to
be totaled there.
So anything less than, than a really
straight bow and
flat hair is not gonna get great sound
The bow just has to keep moving there,
focused into the string.
All the articulations here are strong.
They're generally on the string.
If you wanna come off the string a little
toward the end as it builds to the chord,
that's fine.
Here in this series that keeps going
higher and higher, it has to build.
It should stay rhythmic the, it's not a
it's not a cadenza-like place the
orchestra's having to play.
So, while staying within a pulse, the
excitement has to build so
the articulation has to get stronger.
The final finishing note has to get louder
and ring more.
If you can do all of that with a relaxed
left hand, then you can,
then you can really get it done.
The opening to this concerto, the opening
page to this concerto is a great
one to play at least some of the time with
an accompanist or
the piano track here at Artist Works
because it has to stay in a pulse.
The woodwinds have,
while you're playing the quicker notes
Fives, the fours, the sixes.
They have lines like.
So you just don't have the freedom to
do anything you want and it can be
to convert from sixes, to fives, to fours.
That takes some practice.
So you can use a metronome.
You can use the piano track because that
will also show you the harmonies as well.
But you need to eventually be able to do
it without any accompaniment,
no metronome, no piano because in most
auditions you wont have that luxury
until and unless you get to the final
This entire opening has to somehow
preserve the tension all the way to the
It's a huge a huge page that leads all the
way, finally resolves to D major.
So, any time that you take has to still
preserve some tension.
A couple common places that people take
time are in to these sixteenth notes.
See, that would be letting
the tension dissipate too much.
You have to maintain it somehow, because
that's not the endpoint yet.
Similarly, when you finally get the the G
string, it's not time to linger too long,
it's the, the chord's not changing so
just, you know, keep moving through it,
be expressive.
Because where you're,
where you're really aiming is after the
Here in this amazing theme, you need to
maintain a sweet sound.
It can be difficult in an audition if
you're feeling hyped up.
But the vibrato on the E string,
remember that that can often get
aggressive kind of shrill.
So, it's useful to practice that [COUGH]
nice and relaxed.
It's pretty obvious that this theme is in
eight bars.
Um,but after that it can be
more difficult to group the bars together.
So rather than stopping after each trill,
it's nice to put those four together,
Now, here where the violin
decorates the rest of the,
the rest of the theme,
you need to maintain a pulse.
A lot of times we practice this very slowl
it can be hard to get it back to the real
There's certainly room for rubato, but it
needs to be in that general pulse.
Really this, this whole first movement,
gigantic as it is and, and
as many sections as there are, needs to
have that anchor
needs to have that common pulse that goes
through it.
So all the decisions you make can't take
you too far from that.
Now, the three note chords that come here.
That needs a little less flexibility in
the fingers and
wrists than you may have used normally
with the bow.
That you can get all three notes and
really rip them off, really, really ring.
Now the section that closes out
this portion of the concerto
needs to be very smooth.
So really no portado,
no helping with the bow.
Just very smooth string crossings and
Now pitches keep coming back again and
again so
it's important to listen carefully to make
sure that pitches
when they reappear especially in such
close succession are in tune.
This is a difficult last half page to play
in tune.
But with a relaxed hand and a critical
ear, you'll get it.