Ivan Galamian: Basics and methods of violin playing
Instruction for a more relaxed manner of playing the violin
Ivan Galamian, profile
Ivan Galamian with violin in 1977
Summary by Michael Palomino (1988 appr., translation in 2012)
Content 1. Introduction
1.1. Insisting in rigid rules is irresponsible
1.2. Comprehension for mutual dependence
1.3. Developing mental control over violin technique and over physical movements
2. Technique and interpretation: "good" musicians and adaption of the music to the local acoustic facts
3. The left hand
3.1. General posture with the instrument
3.2. Posture of the left arm
3.3. Finger activities of the left hand and of the left wrist
3.4. The thumb of the left hand
3.5. The movement of the left hand
3.6. The doubled contact of the left hand
3.7. Intonation / pureness of the tones
3.8. Temporal coordination in the left hand
4. Especially technical problems with the left hand
4.2. Double steps
4.4. Pizzicato with the left hand
4.5. Flageolet sounds
5. The right hand
5.2. Sound production with a straight bowing
5.3. Sound production with a little inclined bowing
6. Manners of bowings
7. Special problems of bowings
7.1. Attacking the string with the bow
7.2. Bowing change
7.3. Bowing with flageolet sounds
7.4. Bowing with broken chords
7.5. Not broken chords
7.6. Vice versa broken chords
8. About training
8.1. Introduction time
8.2. Interpretation time
8.3. Concert time
8.4. Technical training details
9. End: some words about teachers
10. Supplement: tactical behavior as a music teacher
10.1. Tactics of the teaching person in a music school
10.2. Tactics of the teaching person with pubertal girls: "give them away"
10.3. Tactics of the teaching person with the parents of the pupils during the children's education: no force and don't block any development
10.4. Tactics of the teaching person with Steiner pupils and Steiner parents: "give them away" or enlighten them
10.5. Health damages in music professions as an orchestra musician person
Biography of Ivan Galamian
Ivan Galamian was rated as one of the best violin teachers in the world teaching at Curtis Institute (Philadelphia) and at Juillard School of Music in New York. He had been chairman of "American" Society of Strings and had been leader of "Meadowmount Summer Violin School". He died in 1982.
Preface of Ivan Galamian
Galamian says: There are many kinds of playing the violin, some kinds are acceptable, some others are bad. Galamian's method is the most practicable, but not the only right or possible one.
Introduction of Galamian
The today's methods of playing violin have got three essential bad points:
1.1. Insisting in rigid rules is irresponsible
This is a dangerous manner because rules should be for pupils, and the pupils should not be adored by the pupils.
Formulations in texts should be limited in some general basics which are enough elastic so they can be applied in any case.
The term "right" should mean what is natural for the pupil. Only the natural manner is comfortable and useful. The pupil should feel well with it, and according to the body of the pupil this can mean different manners.
1.2. Comprehension for mutual dependence
The singular elements of violin technique are in a mutual organic relation.
Example: When the position of bowing is changed, so hand and arm should be allowed to adapt and have to find a new balance among themselves.
Considering this the solution will always be a compromise serving to the pupil person. And by this any individuality is saved.
1.3. Developing mental control over violin technique and over physical movements
Mental control is more important than the mechanic manner how is it executed. There has to be a connection between the mind and the muscles, that means there has to be the capacity to perform the mental orders into physical reactions in a fast and precise way as fast as possible. This is the basic principle of violin technique [and with all other music instruments and activities in life].
Technique and interpretation: "Good" musicians and the adaption of the music to the local acoustic facts
Basic elements of all music performance are the sound, level of the sound and rhythm.
Technique has to become a unity with the interpretation. Factors are:
1. physical factor (forms of the fingers, of the hands, of the arms, litheness of the muscles)
2. the capacity of the mind preparing and steering the muscles (managing the movements)
3. and there is an aesthetic and feeling factor: understanding the music and being the interpretor for the listener.
Absolute facts with technique
There is the necessity to manage the instrument technically in an absolute sovereign way. Galamian claims
-- the complete knowledge of the performed music in it's harmonic and formal structure
-- a clear and rhythmic kind of playing
-- and the sovereignty of all variations of bowings and colors of sound.
Relative facts with an interpretation
An interpretation is very sentimental and depends on the personal idea of the playing person, is determined by the taste, style and fashion of the time. Therefore the interpretation is a value which is always changing, e.g. with works of J.S. Bach how different the performances are depending from the epoch.
Kinds of technique: the technique of expression
Technique is the capacity steering and managing all required movements of playing of the left and the right hand, of the arms and the fingers, at the same time mentally and physically.
The main aim is a complete technique of expression, this means the complete mastership over all possibilities with the instrument, in combination with an absolute safety and management of any requirement of any fine idea.
Only then it's possible to realize the idea of the sound of a work.
Group players - solo players
A group player has to be that skilled as a solo player, has to follow to the conductor and has to be capable to interpret the ideas as a soloist.
Virtuosic technique is not always under control because the movements can be too fast, too light or can be without any rhythmic discipline, sometimes this is even required.
Technique and mind in their mutual relationship: train the unity of mind and muscles
There is a mutual relation between the mind (superior) and the muscle (inferior).
The key for a technical mastership is in the betterment of this mutual relation, and not in the training and forming of the muscles. The mutual work is required.
What is essential is the reaction of the muscles to th mental orders, not the force of the muscles.
Therefore there is the question how one can better this mutual relation between instrumental technique and mind. This unity of mind and muscle needs new homework, rhythm homework and coordination homework: The music playing person should train music peaces in different rhythms, bowings and accents bettering the coordination between mind and motivity, see the chapter "About training".
Interpretation: fantasy, intuition, feeling in the balance
is the highest aim of all instrumental learning. Technique is only the resource for the interpretation, technique is only in the service of the artistic interpretation.
The music playing person
-- has to understand the sense of music completely
-- has to present a creative fantasy
-- has to have a personal, intuitive and sentimental access to the music peace.
The personality must not be colorless nor aggressive or intrusive.
Characters of a "good musician"
-- complete technical control of the instrument
Characters of a "good musician" at the concert
-- good sound
-- clear spelling and interpretation
-- habit to tell something
-- telling this with conviction
-- everybody can understand it.
Comparison of a music peace with a speech
A good speaker is attracting the public when the speech looks like improvised, with changing sound, with breaks, with gestures which seem to be spontaneous and original.
Therefore the best music interpretation has to make the impression of being improvised. The artist himself has to be stimulated by his / her own interpretation. There has to be an immediate "creation of the creation".
-- exaggerations of the improvising element have to be avoided
-- free playing is well possible within the frame of the musical idea of the whole work
-- too much temperament has to be avoided
-- free interpretation has got it's base on the complete domination of the instrumental technique of the expressions
-- the teaching person should not force the pupil for an interpretation, but the pupil should be encouraged for a personal initiative of interpretation, but with this should (!) better his taste and his feeling of style.
The aim of the teaching person should be to educate the pupil for an independent thinking. The method of parrot only copying the interpretation of the teacher does not bring a good result.
Quotation of Kreisler:
"Too much schooling can be worse than too less."
Systematic copying of discs or CDs has a blocking effect on the musical development of the pupil. This counts for any kind of art. The pupil gets mentally lazy and dependent, the music pupil gets musically lazy and dependent.
In these cases the disc (resp. CD) blocks the development of the own musical personality.
Types of pupils
-- there are pupils "active" in interpretation with a native will realizing their creative fantasies challenging the teaching person
-- there are pupils "passive" in interpretation who are not capable to come out from themselves: they need to have always a model. One cannot light a fire where is no burning material. They never will get their own musical feet, but they will be "skilled craftsmen".
-- between these two extremes there are the pupils with a slow development where patient fostering by the teaching person is necessary.
Questions about acoustics during the concerts: vocals and consonants
Acoustics in a little hall
Also players with not so good articulation or with too much tempo can yet be understood by the public.
Acoustics in a big hall
The condition to be understood in a big hall is the production of a big sound.
In general the performance in a concert has to be louder, and a little bit slower and more distinct. The aim has to be that also the last listener in the last row will understand the performance.
In a big hall the differentiation between loud and soft has to be much more extreme than in a little hall, and the soft sounds should not be too soft. According to this one has to install the bowings and part more bowings playing in a big hall having always a big volume of the needed sound filling the big hall.
Any accompaniment should never exceed the volume of the soloist.
In big halls fast works have to be performed always less fast because of the echo effect because any very fast tempo would harm to the clearness of the work.
Production of big sounds: vocals and consonants
A sound is a combination of sound and some noise, can be knocking or accents, getting a character and a shape of the sound (in analogy of the relation between vocals and consonants in the language).
As a vocal singing sound can be considered with a soft beginning and a soft end. As a consonant an articulated sound can be considered depending on the kind of bowing in combination with knocking in the fingers of the left hand during fast parts of the work for more separation of the tones.
[But one should not exaggerate the knocking of the fingers on the finger board because for the public it should not be audible / hearable].
The aim is - according to the hall - getting a balance between vocal and consonant sounds.
In a big hall more articulation is needed than only in a veranda. But one never should exaggerate any articulation because too much consonant sound is harming the vocal sound.
The left hand
3.1. General posture with the instrument
General movement with the instrument
There are two basic problems, fixing of the tones and vibrato.
Basic precondition is the right proportion between body and instrument, so all playing movements can be performed in a comfortable way
-- in his / her posture the playing person has to feel well
-- exaggerated movements during playing have to be avoided because otherwise there has to be a permanent correction of the posture of the bow in relation to the violin
-- a certain movement is natural and is supporting the coordination and is giving the feeling for rhythm and accents.
One never should suppress any body movement, but one should play an instrument always without being afraid.
The posture with the instrument
Basically any posture is possible as long as it's corresponding with the body of the pupil person.
The support at the violin should not touch the violin's base because otherwise the sound of the violin can be affected and is not brilliant any more.
The chin never should press on the string holder.
[Supplement: Until about 1850 the violins and violas had no chin holder yet].
Chin holder according to Galamian is the best a model which is fixed on both sides of the string holder so the pressure of the screws is in a balance to the violin's construction.
The position of the scroll should have got a tendency to the soil.
-- a deeper position of the scroll has got the effect that the weight of the violin is shifted to the left hand and the bow has got a tendency to the finger board
-- a higher position of the scroll has got the effect that the weight of the violin is more going to the shoulder and to the neck.
Posture of the left arm
The level of the string going with the elbow
The elbow never is without movement. The elbow should also be in a movement changing the position according to the string which is played. When the G string is played then the elbow should also pass to the right, when the E string is played so the elbow also should pass to the left.
[Playing the viola the elbow gets an own string level with every string. Playing violin this is only the case with the two most extreme strings].
Finger activities of the left hand and of the left wrist
Knocking fingers - soft fingers
Knocking fingers on the finger board during runs are resulting in a "craspy" sound [but don't knock too much pleas!]. Knocking with the fingers can be supported by the elbow getting the elbow in a more right position, so the fingers get an almost right angle to the finger board. Therefore the fingers can knock harder, with the bony part of the finger tip.
When there are soft and easy runs the elbow can be hold a little bit to the left, so the finger come on the finger board with a flat position, with the fleshy part of the finger tip.
Basically the fingers should be hold always near the finger board evading exaggerated articulations.
The left wrist: the almost straight line between the back of the hand and the lower arm - and there are exceptions
The left wrist should not allow any own movement aside but the left hand should be steered by the elbow.
Playing the violin the line between the back of the hand and the lower arm should be near straight. An own movement of the left hand is allowed only playing in the half position and in high positions and playing chords requiring an extension of the hand.
Playing the violin the line between the back of the hand and the lower arm should be more or less straight. Exceptions are playing in the half position, in high positions and playing chords requiring an extension of the hand.
The left hand at the neck of the violin
The left hand should touch the neck softly at the left and at the right side. This facilitates the orientation of the hand during playing.
During playing in the first position the first finger put on the finger board should form more or less a square, but never a perfect square. The first part of the forefinger should touch the upper ridge of the finger board.
Until the third position the forefinger on the finger board is an orientation, in the higher positions there will be the free position.
When the finger tips fall on the strings
The fingers should "hang" individually over the strings. Short fingers "are hanging" higher over the strings than longer fingers.
During playing in the first position the left hand should not be hold in the position of the half position. The first and the half position have to be well separated.
[Supplement: The hand can be in the half position playing short passages of the first position when the fingers are long enough and the distance is no problem[.
The position in the first position:
-- the octave h' - h'' should be hold naturally
-- for f'' or b' the first finger has to be put back without shifting the hand.
Even better is the first position when the hand is a little bit higher so also for h' the finger has to be put back a little bit. Then the octave h'-h'' is balanced between the fingers and depends not only from the little finger with h''.
The finger tips should come always in a right angle on the string, not important if the finger is forming more or less a square or not, or if the fingers are straight.
The finger tips should be in a position a little bit to the bridge and should touch the strings a little bit left from the middle of the finger tip. In this way the bigger part of the finger tip stays at the right side of the string, and any vibrato is more easy and gets more volume.
The thumb of the left hand
The thumb is the mostly the reason for cramps in the left hand when the thumb is getting stiff around the violin's neck pressing much provoking a big pressure in the whole hand. In these cases the whole left hand is blocked.
Now there is the logic that there is pressure and counter pressure. But the task of the thumb is only pressing a little on the neck as a counter pressure for the pressure of the playing fingers from above on the finger board. Playing the G string no pressure from the side is desirable.
The position of the thumb must not pass much of the finger board (with the exception when there is a long thumb), because otherwise any pressure of the thumb on the neck will be more.
When the thumb is short the thumb has to be put more under the neck of the violin.
The form of the thumb's position has to be adapted always to the neck of the violin. The thumb never should be straight or too inclined.
The movement of the left hand
Basic movements are:
1. vertical movement of the fingers
2. horizontal movements of the fingers within one position (slips, positions with additional signs # or b etc.)
3. change of the string is performed in a horizontal movement, mostly in combination with a vertical movement of the fingers
4. performing change of position the fingers and the hand are slipping at the same time
Mistake often committed is using too much force in the left hand
-- knocking with too much force on the finger board
-- pressing much with the fingers on the strings after reaching the strings
-- lifting the fingers too high so the movements are slowly in general by holding the finger tips in too much height.
These mistakes can have bad consequences of cramps in the hand.
Therefore one should only apply the force which is really necessary performing the music, this means
-- "knocking" at the fingerboard when there are important runs
-- putting a "finger's accent" when there are special accents in the music peace on an unique note putting the finger on the finger board with much force.
The doubled contact of the left hand
The left hand has got always two contact positions with the instrument, and only then a good and safe orientation is possible. But the locations of contact are are different depending on the situation and the position:
-- lower positions:
There is contact at the violin's neck with the thumb and the first part of the forefinger (first finger). It's not necessary that this contact is a steady contact. The contact should be very tender, without pressing or holding.
-- fourth position and higher:
The thumb and the palm are touching the violin's body now. The first part of the forefinger (first finger) is not in touch with the violin any more.
-- fifth position and higher:
Thumb and hand are touching different parts of the instrument.
-- highest positions:
-- The thumb has to leave the violin's neck and is straightening toughing the right side board of the violin. The palm has no contact at the violin's body any more, and therefore playing in the highest position is a very delicate affair.
When impressive passages have to be performed it's well possible that there stays only one location of contact making possible more vibrato. Teh hand is turned a little bit into itself, and only the thumb is in touch with the violin's neck.
Intonation / pureness of the tones
The development is performed by the combination of touching and hearing. Hand and fingers have to find their "right" position. The fingers are like blinds finding their place, and the ear is the control. The hand is giving the scale of an octave [or in an over extension up to a tenth].
The middle finger can have squared or extended forms.
The movement of the fingers is coming from the basic joint. Within one position the hand should not shift.
Well experienced pupils can be less strict in the basic position when there is no danger for the intonation with it.
Intonation: "natural" or "tempered"
Factors for intonation are touching sense, ear, frame which is given by the hand, and the capacity for fast reactions correcting the fingers on the finger board.
According to the accompaniment the intonation has to be adapted. It should also be possible to play with a good intonation on a badly arranged violin. This is the guarantee for more safety during a concert.
The temporal coordination in the left hand
This is the second essential factor for the development of the left hand:
-- the musically temporal proceeding describes the real music peace
-- the technical temporal proceeding describes the technical performance of the movements with the left and the right arm.
Both proceedings are not always coordinated. For example a finger of the left hand has to be prepared before the sound is made, or the bow has to be prepared before executing the music with the bowings of Martélé or staccato.
Music only can be perfect when the technical performance is perfect.
Especially technical problems with the left hand
There are two kinds of shifting:
a) there is a right shifting (complete)
b) there is a faked shifting (half)
a) with the right shifting the whole hand with the thumb is shifted into the new position
b) with the faked shifting the thumb stays where it is and is bounding and extending so the hand with the other fingers can perform moving upwards or downwards into other positions.
Basic kinds of shifting are
a) shifting with the same finger
b) shifting with the original finger and ending the shifting with another finger
c) performance of the shifting with the finger of the new tone
d) hesitated shifting: The finger is extended to the new tone and then the hand is torn after it. The finger is becoming the "angle" of the hand.
Speed of the shifting
The speed should be in the right proportion to the general tempo of the music.
Glissando can be omitted with a slower bowing movement and reducing the pressure of the bow on the string.
Pupil persons often are making just the contrary and accelerate the bowing speed and the bowing pressure, but just the contrary is needed.
Glissando and Portato should be used as a mean of expression only.
Performance of shifting: movement of the whole arm and the hand
a) when there is a right shifting from a low to a higher position:
-- the thumb is moved with the hand and with the other fingers
-- the form of the hand remains the same [until the 3d position]
-- the distance for the performance of an octave is less in the upper positions because the distances on the string are shorter (the distances in the 8th position are only the half of the first position)
-- from the 3d or 4th position on the thumb is put more and more under the neck of the violin, and the elbow has to move to the right side
-- from the 7th position on the fingers can play in several positions at the same time without really changing the position [because the distances in these higher positions are so short].
b) when there is a right shifting from a higher position into a lower position:
-- shifting from the 3d to the 1st position the thumb should advance shifting a little bit, also shifting from the 5th to the 1st position
c) combined right - and faked shifts
-- shifting from a higher position into the third position should be applied with the technique of faked shifting: The thumb is acting as the angle of the change of position, and the hand is torn into the new position later
-- shifting down step by step (with runs and scales): The thumb is tearing the hand up to the 5th position. The thumb is leading the shifting movements
-- shifting from very high positions to the 1st position: This shifting is lead by the movement of the arm: The arm is advancing the hand, and the pressure of the finger is only a minimum.
The main problem with double steps is that one thinks that there should be more pressure with the fingers on the finger board. But this provokes a very bad tension in the left hand so the thumb is totally in a cramp, and then the whole hand is.
But more pressure is not at all needed, but the fingers should change the strings without any pressure. And with this method also double steps will be performed fast without difficulties.
Important is the exercise of octaves training the frame of the left hand.
When there are fingering octaves and tenths the left hand has to be hold higher and more straight ahead. The 1st and the 2nd finger will be extended back, and the 3d and the 4th finger will be extended forward. Exercises are first with the extended 1st and 4th finger in change with the 2nd and 3d finger (third intervals with the neighboring fingers), and only then the double steps will come.
Add to this training of double steps passages in different rhythms is very useful.
Shifting with double steps: The fingers not taking part should leave the string even before the shift, because this is relaxing the left hand. When there is a shift in combination with a change of the string, so the shifting finger is always the angle, depending on the situation.
-- trills should be performed always in a relaxed manner
-- the fingers have not to be left much from the string, and not at all have to be knocked on the strings, otherwise there will be cramps in the left hand.
But leaving the fingers is as important like the setting.
Also the end of the trill is important. Eventually one can even perform a little pizzicato with the trilling finger at the end.
4.4. Pizzicato with the left hand
The elbow has to be hold a little bit to the left side so the movement of the pizzicato finger will be better.
4.5. Flageolet sounds
During the flageolet the pressure of the bow has to be the same and may not soften.
Fingerings have to be considers from two points of view:
1st according to the music: the best sound is wanted
2nd according to the technical performance: it should be easy to perform.
Priority has the idea of the music, and one should not elect only the most comfortable possibility of technical performance. Developments:
-- there should be trained the equality of 2nd, 4th and 6th position in comparison with the always well trained 1st, 3d and 5th position
-- there should be training in runs and scales in half tone steps and normal tone steps
-- there can be also shifting of positions using a pure string [above all when there are double step shiftings]
-- chromatic fingerings 0121234 are easier to set and have got a better sound, in combination with a faked shifting of position when the thumb is staying at the same place
-- fingering 1-2-3 and 1-2-3-4 instead of 1-2-1-2 [3d and 4th finger have to be considered always as equal to the 1st and the 2nd finger]
-- extensions with the fingers can evade shifting when there are large distances between the tones: In this way there is a "snaking fingering" and the hand is torn after the finger. Also the contrary is possible contracting the hand.
Not wanted slides should be evaded, but not all, or there will be a dry and cold violin playing.
-- there can be also made an accent with the left finger
-- and there is also exchange of fingers with the same tone on the finger board.
Scales and three chords and so on should be trained with different fingerings.
When a music peace is worked out a second time, old fingerings can be changed without problem because music never should be stiff and traditional.
One should evade fixed ideas, but flexibility and liberty are important.
There is the difference between arm vibrato - hand vibrato - and finger vibrato - and all combinations of it.
Precondition for a good vibrato is a relaxed left hand which is not fixed on the neck. The hand has to stay relaxed, also during the vibrato.
The impulse is coming from the lower arm. The fingers have to give in passively.
The hand is swinging and the arm is not moving. With the swinging hand the finger is extending and contracting again. Training for this is performed the best in the 3d position when the palm is touching the body of the violin, and first the exercise begins with the 2nd finger: The hand is "falling" backward and is coming back. The hand is leading.
One can touch the violin with the scroll on the wall [with a towel as protection], or one can sit on a chair and put the scroll on the table, so the left arm is completely relaxed and can concentrate absolutely to the vibrato movement. The first finger must not be pressed on the neck of the violin.
This first vibrato exercise is also possible in the lower positions (2nd, 1st and half position).
The teaching person also can put a finger [or a pencil] between the violin's body and the palm of the pupil's hand, so the pupil's arm has to be without movement not losing the contact.
When the pupil's person has got difficulties with hand vibrato so he / she should train arm vibrato getting the left hand more relaxed. Then the hand vibrato will function better automatically.
Finger vibrato should be learnt only after having learnt arm and hand vibrato. The impulse for finger vibrato comes from the finger itself. The finger's swinging is coming from the finger's first part. This vibrato is very narrow and can be trained without sound in a mute way.
Finger tip vibrato
This is a faked vibrato. The last finger joint is moving after the finger tip has been set on the string.
Special problems with vibrato
Intonation during vibrato
Vibrato movements should always be under the level of the tone because the ears of the public always get the highest level of the tone.
Direction of vibrato movement
should be in a sharp angle to the string, and not parallel.
Speed of the vibrato
When the amplitude is reduced the vibrato speed can be higher with more swings. But also wide and fast and narrow and slow has to be trained and has to be possible having a rich variety of vibrato for music performances.
Acceleration of vibrato
The wrist has to be bowed in direction to the scroll.
Double steps with vibrato
First vibrato has to be trained with only one finger, and then it can be trained also with double steps with arm vibrato.
This is a method of training fighting the bad habit beginning a tone without vibrato and beginning the vibrato only after having played a part of the tone.
[But performing a penetrating vibrato in a music peace in a concert has got an absolute penetrating and unnatural effect, e.g. with violinist Mutter from Switzerland].
The right hand
a) The system of spiral springs
Bowing technique is a "system of springs"
-- in an artificial way:
oo with the tonicity of the bow hairs
oo with the elasticity of the stick
-- in a natural way:
oo with the joints of the shoulder, of the elbow, of the wrist, of the fingers, and of the thumb.
The whole right arm has to be a spring, otherwise there will be a hart tone and a not controllable bow. Bow, arm, hand and fingers have to build a unity and have to move smoothly as the legs and feet and toes are moving smoothly during walking.
When humans are that "civilized" that they cannot walk in a smooth way any more, then one should take lessons in Alexander technique learning and feeling a springing kind of walking again].
The springs can be in tension, but must never be fix. Corresponding to this the bow has to be hold.
b) The bow posture: the bow hand
Important is the suppleness of the hand. Every finger should be considered as a "spiral spring".
Taking the bow with the right hand can be trained with several exercises:
-- taking the bow with the right hand and at the same time at the top of the stick with the left hand
-- from the beginning the thumb and the second finger are forming a circle, and then one can open this circle a little bit
-- the thumb is touching the stick and the frog at the same time
-- the second finger is touching the stick with it's middle phalanx
-- the third finger is put over the stick
-- the fourth finger is put softly aside of the third finger so it will be round, and has to be always flexible
-- the first finger is touching the stick with the middle phalanx, a little bit to the finger tip.
When the fingers are too much spread, then the whole hand can cramp.
Never press the fingers together.
All fingers have to be bent in a natural and light way.
Different sounds require different bow postures:
-- for a "transparent- sound" the stick has to be nearer to the basic joint of the first finger, and the other fingers have to be slightly removed from the stick
-- for a Détaché the first finger has to be nearer to the second finger.
c) Physical movements of the bow arm
The bow should be considered as a natural part of the whole mechanism [as a "third part" of the arm]. All natural movements of the fingers, of the hand and of the arm are in a way of a circle. Getting regular straight movements there must be combined the different circle movements so a straight line comes out.
Finger exercise for the bow hand
-- extend the fingers vertically and bend them again
-- do this exercise first without instrument only with the bow, and then train it with the instrument over the strings
->> the bow is going up and down about 2 cm.
-- extend the fingers horizontally and bend them again
-- first begin this exercise in the middle of the bow
->> and the result is a short, regular bowing.
-- another exercise is a horizontal rotation with the tip of the thumb as a linchpin, and with the other fingers the bow is rotated, and during this exercise the bow should stay in it's horizontal position: the first finger is pulling near the bow, the fourth finger is pulling the bow away and vice versa
->> in this manner little regulations of the direction of bowing are trained.
-- and another exercise has got a vertical rotation movement with the tip of the thumb as a linchpin extending the fourth finger and folding it
-- and another exercise can rotate the bow around itself resp. this is a rotation around it's long axis: let roll the bow between the thumb and the fingers
->> this is an exercise training the inclined position of the hairs of the bow to the outside or to the inner side.
Movements with the wrist of the bow hand
-- vertical movements have to be trained:
-- holding the hand in a high position results in a incised wrist
-- holding the hand in a low position results in a hanging hand.
-- training of horizontal movement: one can move the wrist in a horizontal position to the left and the right.
Movements of the lower arm
-- exercise of the horizontal movement of the lower arm: hold the arm in a horizontal position and move only the elbow (like a door)
-- exercise with the rotation of the lower arm: turn the lower arm (ulna and radius) around it's own long axis turning the elbow joint without moving the upper arm
-- turning the palm downwards is called "pronation"
-- turning the palm upwards is called "supination".
Movement of the upper arm
Vertical movement can be trained like this: movement of a semicircle in the shoulder joint for the change of strings
Horizontal movement can be trained like this: the hand executing the bowings is first in front of the throat (left side, in the foreground) and then in the back far away (right side, in the background). This is the basic movement for a straight bowing.
Pulling up the shoulder is not allowed.
Pulling up the shoulder is often the cause for inhibitions and botherings in the bow arm.
Corrections of the physical posture of the body are best done by Alexander technique].
Straight bowing is the base of all bowing technique. There are two reasons for that:
-- the tone quality has to be constant
-- therefore the location of contact on the string should be the same [within one tone quality].
There are three stadiums of bowing
a) The posture at the frog: upper and lower arm and instrument should form a triangle
b) The posture in the middle of the bow: upper and lower arm and the instrument and the collarbone should form a square
c) The posture at the top of the bow: the arm should be almost straight extended.
One should begin to study the bowing work with the square, because the control of the bow is the most easy there.
-- when the upper arm is long, the position of the bow is a little bit more to the top of the bow
-- when the bow is on the G string, the bow arm is in a horizontal level, and with every following higher string the arm is inclined a little bit more
-- the proportion between string and bow hairs should be in a right angle
-- the shoulders should be always relaxed.
From the square to the top of the bow (down bow)
-- the bow hand is performing a movement to the right side in an extension way forward, countering the normal circle movement of the arm
-- so, the forearm is extending, and the upper arm is pulling forward
-- at the same time the palm of the bow hand has to be inclined downwards a little bit (pronation) because there has to be more pressure on the bow so the tone quality will remain the same
-- a very precise regulation is possible by the extension of the fingers when this is necessary.
Coming from the top of the bow to the position of the square (up bow)
-- when the up bow begins with the forearm, the upper arm begins folding and pulling back: the "movement to the inner side"
-- children with bows which are too long should not play on the top of the bow or should use a shorter bow.
From the square to the frog (continuing the up bow)
-- the elbow is swinging forward now
-- the bow hand is hanging naturally now from the wrist, and the hand is turned a little bit outward taking some pressure from the bow away so the tone quality remains the same (supination)
-- on the frog the wrist is bent a little bit, and the wrist itself is becoming the principle joint now
-- the bow is more and more inclined preventing an inclined bowing
-- there should be only little pressure because on the frog is the main weight of the bow
-- the wrist has to adapt to these conditions in a smooth way, one has to find the right bench and the right flexibility
-- but one never should exaggerate inclining on the frog, but one should reduce more the weight.
Finally all these elements of bowing have to form a harmonic unity:
-- without exaggeration of high wrist
-- without exaggeration of benches sidewards of the wrist at the frog
-- without benching the wrist to the chin of the player's person.
Sound production with a straight bowing
Basic preconditions for a round and full tone are the movements of the arm and the bow like springs with a straight bowing movement in a right angle to the string.
There are three main factors: speed, pressure, and the location of contact
And now there are combinations possible:
-- more pressure at the same location of contact on the string ->> can be balanced with more speed
-- less pressure at the same location of contact on the string ->> can be balanced with less speed
-- more pressure in combination with the same bowing speed ->> can be balanced with the shift of the location of contact to the finger board
-- less pressure in combination with the same bowing speed ->> can be balanced with the shift of the location of contact to the bridge
-- more bowing speed in combination with the same pressure ->> can be balanced with the shift of the location of contact to the finger board
-- reduced bowing speed in combination with the same pressure ->> can be balanced with the shift of the location of contact to the bridge.
Changing all three factors result corresponding combinations.
When there is an irregular bowing ["Viotti bowing"]
Viotti bowing with a short up-bow: This short up-bow has to balance the long down-bow. Scheme of notes.
so the up-bow will pass very fast but only with 1/3 of the pressure and with the location of contact to the finger board balancing the bowing speed.
When the passage is not too long, a "flash bowing" can be applied].
Bowings: flash bowing, the bow is getting more and more to the top. Scheme of notes.
Phrasings can be handled also using different speeds of bowing.
Pressure: At the point of the bow more pressure and more turning of the right wrist to the inner side is necessary, less at the frog, balancing the weight of the bow.
When the pressure of the bow is not controlled, so the tone is changing.
Location of contact of the bow on one string
-- the location of contact has to be varied according to the requirements
-- when thin strings are used, the location of contact is more to the bridge, with thicker strings the location of contact is more to the finger board balancing well the oscillation of the strings
-- in the higher positions the location of contact is more to the bridge because the oscillation of the string is more and more shorter.
So, one can see that the location of contact is always changing.
When there are double steps, compromises are needed, depending to the priority of the upper or lower tones.
The ideal location of contact has to be felt by instinct.
The training for the location of contact
-- first should be trained maintaining a location of contact at different locations on the string, maintaining a straight bowing
-- then one should learn to change the location of contact during the play.
-- when during a down bow the bow hand is not extended enough forward, so the location of contact and the bow are drifting in direction of the finger board
-- and when during the down bow the bow hand is extended forward in an exaggerated way, so the location of contact and the bow are drifting in direction to the bridge
-- with the up bow the conditions are vice versa.
Exercise a) at the frog there is automatically much pressure, and when the speed is low and the location of contact is near the bridge so the result is a full tone - - during the down bow the weight of the bow is less and one has to press more and the speed has also to be more and the location of contact has to be more to the finger board keeping the tone with a full sound
Exercise b) less pressure, fast bowing near the finger board - - during the down bow one should force the pressure, and when the bowing speed is kept high, so the location of contact should be shifted to the bridge a little bit
Exercise c) and therefore the logic of bowing during an irregular bowing comes out
Exercise d) and with all these variations of the irregular bowing the bowing posture has to be balanced getting a regular and constant tone quality.
Bowings: different Viotti bowings, scheme of the notes
The exercises a) to e):
-- first all should be played with the same volume
-- then piano (p) and forte (f) should change mutually, this is a very good exercise for the variation between the bridge and the finger board
-- first the exercise should be only with one tone
-- and at the end the exercise can be executed also in higher positions.
Sound production with a little inclined bowing
The completely straight bowing is the base for any further variation of bowings.
The greatest resonance for a singing sound comes when the bow always is a little bit in a sharp angle with the bridge, with the tip of the bow in direction to the finger board, and with the frog in direction to the playing person.
The ear has to take the decision if the straight or little inclined bowing has got it's sense or is useful.
Character and color of tone production
The two main combinations are:
1st case: fast bowing with less pressure with the location of contact near the finger board. This character of tone is slight and relaxed
2nd case: slow bowing with much pressure with the location of contact near the bridge. This character of tone is dense and concentrated.
And between these two there are many intermediate stages.
Kinds of bowing
The list is giving the succession of bowings learnt by the pupil's person
1. Legato - Portato
3. short and well done Martélé
4. Collé - Spiccato
5. short and fast Détaché - Sautillé
6. Sautillé - Spiccato
7. firm and flying Staccato
8. firm and flying Spiccato.
Also the junctions from one to the other kind of bowing has to be trained:
1. Détaché - Spiccato
2. Martélé - Détaché
3. Sautillé - Ricochet
4. Portato - Staccato.
Exercises like Kreutzer No. 8 can be trained in different bowings, in the extreme case can change the bowing with any bar.
Denominations of Galamian:
Staccato = bound Martélé.
The left hand must not hinder the right hand, respectively the left hand and the right hand have to act in complete coordination.
Change of positions playing legato
-- bow speed can slow down a little bit
-- bow pressure also can be little less
-- sliding of the shifting to the new position of the left hand is camouflaged, but the legato melody is not interrupted for the ear
Change of string playing legato
-- when the change of strings is smoothly executed, both strings are played together for a little moment
-- when there are many changes of strings at the frog, the bow also is swayed moving the fingers of the bow hand, above all the little finger of the bow hand is working then
-- when there are many changes at the top of the bow, also the wrist of the bow hand is working much.
But also the character of the music peace is decisive for the applied manner executing the changes of the strings.
When there are problems of coordination, passages with many changes of strings also can be trained without the left hand only playing the pure strings training only the changes of the strings.
In general there is no change of bow pressure playing a Détaché. Détaché is possible at any bow location and with any length of bowing. The faster the Détaché the shorter has to be the length of bowing.
Repeated changes of strings in Détaché can be executed with a vertical movement of the bow hand executed by the wrist of by turning the forearm or with a combination of both - all depends on the bow location.
The accentuated and articulated Détaché
Every bowing gets an accent (accent is the combination of pressure and acceleration of bowing). But the string is not "attacked" like with Martélé.
Every tone is swelling a little bit. Executing Détaché porté the bow has to be deeper on the string, with some more pressure and speed, but without accent. In this way there is the impression of separation of the tones.
Portato or Louré
Bowing: Portato respectively Louré. Scheme of bowing
Portato or Louré is a Détaché porté. Louré comes out playing Détaché in a porté manner on one bow, with or without breaks between the tones (stopping respectively soft raising of the bow).
At the end Détaché porté and Louré should give the same tone result.
Bowing: Détaché lancé. Scheme of bowing
This is a short bowing with a high speed in the beginning, but between the tones are real breaks. This bowing corresponds to Martélé without Staccato attack. This is applied above all with works of J.S. Bach.
Fouetté or whipped bowing
Executing Fouetté is with an accent on one tone by fast raising and energetic striking of the bow on the string, mainly in the upper half of the bow, mostly beginning with an up bow.
Raising of the bow only begins before the beginning of the new bowing, and striking on the string follows almost at the same time. The tone gets a biting sharpness.
The application is executed when there is no time for a Martélé attack, also when there are stressed notes within passages of 1/16 notes, or when there is an accentuation of short trills.
Bowing: Martélé, "hammered bowing". Scheme of bowing.
After the preparation of pressure there is an accent on the tone as if there would be spoken a consonant. The bow has to "pinch" the string. Pressure should be normalized immediately after the accent.
a) simple Martélé
is also called fast Martélé, with any possible length of bowing, and is possible at any location of the bow. There is no pressure stopping the bow, there is no noise. The attack of the bow is provoked by a turning movement of the right forearm, together with a reflex of the right wrist and the fingers of the bow hand. The location of contact and the direction of bowing have to be maintained.
When the music peaces are fast, then Martélé is hardly possible and has to be replaced by Staccato, Collé, Fouetté or an accentuated Détaché.
b) hold on Martélé
Bowing: hold on Martélé. Scheme of bowing.
Hold on Martélé is a long Détaché bowing with a Martélé attack.
Holding the bow in the lower half (LH) Collé is executed from the air putting the bow on the string, and touching the string the string is attacked sharply. After the tone is coming the bow is immediately raised from the string and the next tone is prepared.
This bowing corresponds to a pizzicato with the bow. The length of the bowing is flexible.
Exercise for Collé bowing:
One begins with very soft and short Martélé bowings, with about 8 cm distance from the frog. Raise the bow after every bowing, then put it again on the string. Then shorten the preparation time step by step. With the time the falling and attacking and the tone should become a unity.
Collé is important for dominating the bow and is the joint between Spiccato and Martélé. At the frog (Fr) it's sound is like a light Martélé at the top of the bow.
Application of Collé
-- it's replacing Martélé during fast tempi
-- certain tones in Spiccato passages can get an accent by Collé
-- it can be the pre exercise for a slow Spiccato.
Large Collé is applied with pointed notes.
Bowings: Spiccato (controlled spring bowing), scheme of notes
The bow is let down to the string from the air and is leaving the string after the tone and is coming again and again on the string. With it the vertical and the horizontal movement of the bow have to be considered:
-- when the horizontal bow movement is bigger than the vertical one, so the Spiccato will be flatter and the tone has more substance, is rounder and softer, more like a vocal
-- when the vertical bow movement is bigger than the horizontal one, then the Spiccato is tighter, deeper and at the same time the tone is sharper and more knocking, with more accent.
With the bowing all is possible from very short up to very large bowing. Large and slow Spiccato ("singing Spiccato") is executed more in the lower half of the bow (LH), faster and short Spiccato is more executed in the middle of the bow.
Especially short and sharp Spiccato is also possible at the frog, with vertical falling movements of the bow.
Spiccato at the top of the bow is almost only executed with the vertical movement of the bow and has a special sound effect. One can use it for passages with a Pizzicato of the left hand where some notes cannot be plucked.
Falling on the string every note should been given a special impulse. But there are certain limits with this Spiccato. The beginning posture of the bow always comes from the air. The main impulse of the movement is coming from the arm. The hand and the fingers are partly part of the movement.
For a more beautiful tone the bowing has to be larger and the height of jump has to be reduced. A steep and knocking Spiccato never gets a good tone.
Change of strings playing Spiccato
Hold the bow near the string otherwise control will be lost. Change of string has to be performed with the whole arm.
Certain notes in Spiccato passages can be emphasized by "singing Spiccato".
Training of Spiccato
a) one exercise is in the lower half of the bow with flat bowings, lead by the arm ("singing Spiccato")
b) next exercise are shorter bowings more to the middle of the bow and more vertically (yet "knocking Spiccato")
c) then one can train the change between singing and knocking Spiccato
d) and then one can train the sudden change between the two.
Bowing: Sautillé, springing spring bow. Scheme of notes
Sautillé is a springing bowing where the bow itself is giving the energy for the notes and not every note has to be formed by raising and falling of the bow. The stick itself is springing. The location of bowing is generally the middle of the bow, underneath, when Sautillé should be louder and longer, and a little bit higher of the middle when the Sautillé should be softer and faster. This also depends of the bow.
-- begin with little and fast Détaché near the middle of the bow, with all hairs on the string
-- then, with a relaxed bowing posture, one can transfer the main movement into the fingers (combination of vertical and horizontal finger movement in an inclined direction)
-- the hand is following passively
-- the mass center of the hand then will be on the forefinger, the 2nd and 3d fingers are touching the bow only slightly, and the 4th finger is the counter force to the weight of the bow and has no other function and remains passive.
Short Détaché also can replace Sautillé, sounds the same.
Bowing: Staccato. Scheme of notes.
There has to be distinguished "firm" and "flying" Staccato.
Staccato is a line of short separated consonant articulated bowings on one bow. This corresponds to several Martélé bowings in one bowing direction.
Staccato in a fast tempo
has got it's base on the tension of the bow, in combination with the muscle vibration in the arm, in the hand and in the fingers. [The bow and all parts of the bow arm have to move like springs].
The difficulties during the up bow:
-- pull the arm nearer to the body
-- the bow is in a sharp angle to the bridge
-- the elbow should be raised, and the forearm should be rotated to the inner side
-- and incline the bow to the finger board.
The difficulties during the down bow:
-- lead the bowing outwards (in a sharp angle with more distance to the body)
-- hold the wrist in a low position, and also the elbow should be hold in a some deep position
-- incline the stick to the bridge
-- and rotate the forearm completely to the inner side.
Staccato with fastest tempi
-- a firm tension in the arm muscles is needed
-- the bow hairs should fall down to the string firmly
-- the tension has to be under control
-- and one should train all speeds.
Firm Staccato never should be trained for a long time evading cramp damages.
is exercised like firm Staccato but with less pressure, with a very little rise of the bow depending on the note. The movement remains horizontal.
Training of flying Staccato
-- train firm Staccato in an up bow movement
-- then one can hold the elbow and the wrist higher step by step
-- this provokes a relaxed hand
-- then one can mix vertical finger movement into it provoking the jumping of the bow after every note.
Several Spiccato notes are played on one single bowing length. The bow is jumping higher than during the flying Staccato. The bow is thrown for each note on the string actively. Considering this the speed for flying Spiccato is limited.
Flying Spiccato can well be "recovered" so the location of the bow can be maintained more or less. Flying Spiccato is possible without end like this.
The character of the sound is always the same. After some training the bow can even shift more to the top.
Bowing: Ricochet. Scheme of notes.
Ricochet has got it's base only on the natural capacity of jumping of the stick. Several notes are filed up on the same bowing movement, but only one impulse is given for it on the first note. The bow then is jumping on alone.
Ricochet is easier on a down bow than on an up bow. And there should never be an inclined position of the bow for this.
-- there can be changes of the location of the bow and of the height of the rebound
-- near the top of the bow the stick is jumping faster
-- near the middle the bow is beginning to be lazy
-- when the bow is jumping higher then also jumps slower
-- when the bow is jumping lower then also jumps faster.
These regulations also can be executed by variations of the first impulse, by the forefinger of the right hand.
-- one can begin little bit over the half of the bow: let fall the bow from 2 or 3 cm of height, without any force
-- then after the second rebound one can stop in the down bow movement and come back to the beginning point and repeat the whole
-- one can go on with 3, 4, 5 and more jumped notes during the down bow movement
-- then one can begin the exercise again
-- at the end of each group one can add now a special note in the up bow
-- then one can turn the bowing to the contrary beginning with the up bow and ending with a big down bow
-- and then Ricochet can be trained also with changings of strings and with scales.
Arpeggios over 4 strings
This is simple because the change of string itself is already supporting the jumping movement of the bow. The main impulse is given on the lowest tone on the G string with a vertical finger and hand movement.
As an exercise one can begin Arpeggio also with the highest string.
[Arpeggios on the viola are rare because the masses and distances are too big].
3 main faults with Ricochet and Arpeggios
-- the bow is taken too firm
-- the execution is not at the optimal location of the bow where the bow is jumping well
-- the natural rebound of the bow is harmed by cramps in the bow hand and in the bow arm.
Special problems of bowings
7.1. Attacking the string with the bow
The attack of the bow on the string depends on the idea how the tone should sound:
a) very soft like a vocal
-- then the bow comes from the air landing softly on the string [like the landing of an airplane] and there is no vertical fall
-- in piano (p) the fall of the bow begins near the string and the first touching is performed only with some hair of the bow
b) tone well pronounced like a consonant, but not emphasized
-- put the bow on the string with the same pressure which is needed afterwards for the bowing
-- the note begins immediately with the speed of bow like the whole tone is executed.
c) with an accent
-- there is an accent at the beginning of the tone, and therefore the speed of the bow is fast at the beginning and becomes slower afterwards, has got more pressure at the beginning (for accentuated Détaché), for Martélé the pressure is developed even before the beginning of the tone
-- other possibilities are: from the air
oo fouetté (whipped attack)
oo vertical setting of the bow on the string, "pinching".
It's an advantage when the bow is hanging from the arm and from the wrist before the attack on the string is executed. This results a precise feeling for the weight and for the balance of the unity of bow with arm and hand.
Change of bowing
A change of bowing is like a pendulum of a clock. The aim is a smooth and unhearable change of bowing.
1) Short before the change of bowing the bowing has to become slower
2) and the pressure of the bow has to be reduced.
These two components have to be coordinated, so the change of bowing is unhearable. The most frequent mistake is a fast acceleration before the change of bowing.
On the viola with thicker and longer strings such a fine coordination is not possible, but in some kind is possible].
The changing of fast and slow bowings
Especially important is the balance with irregular changings of bowings. This is above all the case when there are several bound notes and then is following a short up or down bow [in shorter passages also called "flash bowing"].
Irregular bowings should be trained in scales and standard exercises.
Changings of the location of contact are performed
-- with turning movements with the fingers, inclining the bow hairs
-- or are performed with the whole arm: the location of bowing is shifted, but the bow remains in a right angle on the string.
Training the attack of the tone
One can perform a long legato in a down bow movement, then raise the bow from the string preparing a pickup for the next bar, executed on the frog with a short up bow [coming from the wrist].
Bowing with flageolet sounds
Flageolet sounds can be executed best with a heavy bowing, with enough length of the bow, and not too far from the bridge. Natural flageolets require less pressure, artificial flageolets require more pressure of the bowing.
Bowing with broken chords
Three part chords:
-- can be that all three strings are played simultaneously, then the middle tone is the center of the pressure
-- or the lower two tones are played as an appoggiatura and the middle and the upper note are played on the beat.
During breaking the chords it's better to reinforce the pressure getting less distance for the breaking procedure.
There are other breaking procedures which are not so common:
-- the appoggiatura is played only with the lowest tone
-- or after the breaking procedure remains only the upper tone on the beat.
Four part chords:
Four part chords can be broken 2 and 2 or can be "scrolled" like an arpeggio. More kinds of breaking procedures depend on the taste and depend on the style or on the conditions of the concert hall.
The arm movements during the breaking procedure of chords
-- the breaking procedure requires the movement downwards of the whole arm
-- with this movement of the whole arm one should take advantage of of the arm's weight and one should let fall the elbow before the breaking procedure already.
Often it's favorable to begin the broken chord not from the string, but letting fall the bow from the air. All springs in the arm, the hand and in the fingers have to function well.
Not broken chords
-- all tones are kept in one time (see Dont: exercise no. 1, Paganini: caprice no. 24 variation 8)
-- or there is a common attack on 3 strings, and then only 1 or 2 notes are kept (see Bach: fugue in g minor).
The middle strings are the center of the bow level. The strings have to be pressed down as far as the bow hairs can touch the neighboring strings.
Falling down with the bow gives more energy and is facilitating the attacking of 3 chords at the same time. The movement should come from the whole arm [or the player person has got such a strong wrist attack so the arm movement can be reduced].
When the attack is too horizontal, then the attack is not precise.
A "frog attack" is scratchy. Therefore the performance of chords should be learnt in all places of the bow, and performing down bow and up bow, and in p and in f. For chords in a p the middle of the bow has to be elected.
Vice versa broken chords
The problem is not to interrupt the regular flew of voices. A chord should sound with all it's volume without unnecessary accents. Notes belonging to a solo voice should be kept well.
Keeping longer the upper or the second upper note is no problem when the chord is broken from the bottom up.
But keeping the lowest note when the melody is continuing in the bottom line, this requires a breaking procedure top down.
-- when the chord's strings are attacked all at the same time, then one can simply keep the lowest tone longer
-- and when the chord is broken normally, then the chord has to be broken top down: the upper notes become to be the appoggiatura.
Breaking procedure vice versa with four voice chords
This breaking procedure can be performed with a rebound to the string where the melody is going on. When the melody is in the lowest voice, one can break the chord directly top down, or one has to perform a rebound. The best is the breaking procedure bottom up. One can present he melody's note with an accent before the bar, and one can hold the finger on the melody's note in the lowest voice, so there will be a pedal effect.
Sometimes also a mixture of the different applications is possible.
The teacher's person has to teach the pupil's person how a good training works. Training should be the continuation of the lesson. The pupil's person has to teach himself / herself, has to watch the own work. The teachers person only can not only correct faults, but also has to teach the pupil's person how to work for his / her own alone.
Mental concentration during the training
During the training a complete and constant concentration is necessary
-- thoughts must not stray otherwise training is waste of time
-- because the ear will be insensitive then
-- and training is without sense when every pupil's person gets the same fix plan for a certain quantity of lessons. Every pupil's person has to find out the best training rhythm for himself / herself.
Regular daily training is better for the development than long and intensive periods and then long breaks of training.
The aim of the training
Technique and interpretation
8.1. Introduction time: This is the time overcoming technical problems and supporting technical developments
8.2. Interpretation time: This is the time interpreting music peaces with the own musical ideas
8.3. Concert time: This is the time preparing a concert playing a music peace without any break, with accompaniment and with a public.
8.4. Technical training details.
One should begin the training with simple things, followed by more complicate things. So first comes the question of coordination - rhythm variations - bowing variations - emphasis of melodies - connection of all elements.
As soon as a technical problem is solved and well managed it should not be repeated again and again. Basically the development should always go on.
a) play them with ligatures of 3,4,6,8,12, and 24 notes
b) play them in irregular rhythms (in ligatures of 12 notes)
c) make combinations of Martélé and Détaché
d) play them in Staccato
e) play them in bowings of Legato - Détaché
f) play them in Viotti bowings and Paganini bowings
g) play them with accents and with changing emphasis.
The aim should be to manage some new combinations every day.
-- should be isolated one after another
-- should be reduced to it's most simple form
-- and the mind has to advance the movements and the sounds.
Tempo of the training in the introduction time
-- generally should be slowly
-- rhythms can be changed
-- bowings and accents can be changed
-- and the tempi can be increased step by step.
The artist person must not loose it's tranquility when something is going wrong.
The pupil's person has to learn to free himself / herself from difficult situations.
The aim is a healthy balance. The focus of the interpretation time should be the musical expression realizing own personal ideas.
During this concert time a music peace should be played without any break. Difficult passages have to be integrated with a musical interpretation at the end. The peace has to grow together without breaks.
The critical eye
The ear is the top judge rating all. Objective listening is necessary. One can also record the own playing. This will liberate oneself from own delusions by the own subjective eye. The capacity listening objectively is an essential precondition for having success.
Technical training details
Basic exercises during the training
are a mean for the development of a big quantity of technical skills in the left and in the right hand, for intonation, for the training of the frame of the left hand etc.
One tone scales
-- first the training goes with a fixed fingering
-- then the scale training is going with different fingerings
-- and at the end the scales can also begin from other tones than the basic tone, eventually one can even change the chromatic signs.
Scales in double steps
-- as a pre exercise one can set the two fingers on the strings, but only play one of them
-- first the fingerings are going with a scheme
-- then the fingerings can change
-- the double step scales also can be played in different rhythms, bowing and emphasis
-- and in the same way one can train three voice chords and four voice chords.
The well kept tone (son filé): keeping a tone for a long time
-- first this is trained on an empty string
-- then this is trained with a one voice scale in any loudness from p to f with variations
-- and at the end it can be trained in double step in any loudness from p to f with variations.
The purpose with this is,
-- the training of sparing bow without losing or breaking the continuity of the tone
-- to learn the resistance of the string
-- to learn to manage precisely the pressure and the friction of the bow on the string.
Even more useful is
-- a long bowing with changes of strings in combination with many changing notes
-- wave like movements in combination with changes of strings (see Kreutzer exercise no. 14 and 29).
The "spring" exercise
The aim is to get the strongest and fullest tone without any cramp. Every "spring" should get conscious about it's function intuitively.
This is a technical idea from Capet. During keeping long tones or double steps the bow should be rolled slowly between the fingers of the bow hand, regularly, and the tone should be always a round sound with it.
Stick of the bow in a right angle or in an incline position, scheme.
Getting a good flexibility of the springs in the wrist and in the lower arm
-- one exercise is performing a rolling movement with the bow in the air rolling the forearm holding the bow at the frog
-- then one can touch more and more the strings during the rolling movements, also double steps are possible
-- then one can perform more and more vertical movements, and elliptic movements, and then can follow a complete down bow bowing
-- in this way all cramps in the right arm can be solved.
End: some words about teachers
The pupil's persons are never the same, and they should also never treated in the same manner.
Teaching with stiff rules is a wrong teaching.
Every pupil's person is a new task.
The teacher's person has to adapt to the personality of the pupil's person, and then individual measures can be taken so the best result comes out in a short time.
A teacher's person never must humiliate the pupil's person.
A teacher's person has to judge what can be suspended and what has to be corrected immediately.
A teacher's person never should do too much in one time because this provokes only a confusion. Too much content in one time is exceeding the receptivity of the pupil's person and the result will be worse than with a slower teaching of the syllabus.
When the pupil persons are shy, the self confidence can be elevated by compliments and encouragement. With other certain pupil's persons too much compliment is unhealthy and is provoking less quality.
All in all the teacher's person has to keep a cool mind and has to manage the lessons with a sovereign tactic. Blame as a rating is good, but a blame in state of excitation must never happen.
The pupil's person also has phases of different creativity. The teacher's person has to see when the pupil has got a creative phase and has to use it well.
There should be installed a good violin technique - but one should not neglect the musical development. Only in the early youth the technique is developing very fast.
Later years: more peaces of music
There should not be a certain plan, but the pupil should advance individually.
For the technique scale studies are useful.
The repertory should be with compositions of all styles. And there should not be taken the way of the least resistance, and unilateral developments of style should be evaded.
The teacher's person
-- has to be a faithful person with good manners, patient and in a balance
-- has to have a real love and enthusiasm for his profession
-- a good lesson means that there has to be some kind of devotion, and the teacher's person only can give this when his heart and his soul are going with it.
[Supplement: tactical behavior as a music teacher
Galamian only describes the situation from his point of view, and it seems he never had any difficulty with teaching. But the situation in the music schools is another one.
10.1. Tactics of the teaching person in a music school
Getting forward within the music school systems - which partly are headed by military leaders - there is a tactic necessary which is not lead by heart.
Being in a good position in cases of quarrels a membership in music congregations and labor unions are always useful, for example when teachers are getting into a quarrel or when there is a quarrel with the school's leader board.
When there is a quarrel it is important to have a lawyer immediately investigating the juridical situation according to the labor law. So, any escalation can be evaded in the beginning. In these situations heart is not wanted but juridical knowledge, steadiness, diplomacy and life according to the law is wanted. Because it cannot be the sense and the purpose that some persons are exploiting the "heart" of other persons and the persons "with heart" are always giving in.
When the situation does not change after about two years so it is better for the own career to change the school where will be a higher rating from beginning on because of the primary "experience" of work.
Tactics of the teaching person with pubertal girls: "give them away"
Pubertal girls in the today's sexualized world in a singular schooling "leading" by puberty should be left in case of doubt to feminine teaching persons because otherwise a history of the girls or of the stupid parents is possible headed against the teacher's person when the girl is alone in a room with a teacher. It's a big advantage for the teacher "giving away" the girls when they are 12 years old, and this should not be any problem either because there are always more woman teachers in the music schools. This "giving away" the stupid pubertal girls - and mostly also from the mostly stupid parents - is a self protection for the teacher. This procedure has to be coordinated with the leader board of the music school and should not be a problem.
Tactics of the teaching person with the parents of the pupils during the children's education: no force and don't block any development
The general situation as a teacher of a music instrument between leader board of the music school and the parents of the pupils is an absolutely dangerous one, because the parents of the pupils are often inventing any kind of argumentation without asking the teacher first. Therefore profession of an instrumental teacher can be recommended only to persons who have a strong family behind them and have good and strong nerves.
Fanatization of children for music is a manipulation which can hinder many later developments of the child because other topics of life are eliminated.
Also any force for training or the comparison with other children which are regularly performing their training are psychological torture seen from the point of view of children's law. It's child abuse and slavery. And therefore training of music of children is basically a very problematic activity.
Such manipulations and fanatizations of children or the force for training or the constant comparison with other children which are making a regular training or which are "better" on the instrument have to be avoided absolutely, for not endangering the stability of the child. The child should act according to it's feelings and should get to know it's strong sides by itself and should develop these strong sides by itself and should not be threatened always or humiliated always by comparisons with other children.
Parents of children have to be informed about these connections. This is a little bit difficult because eventually the music teacher is cutting his own salary when a pupil's person is not making music any more. In this dilemma is the whole world of music schools, and this dilemma is without solution.
A certain motivation for making music can be given by music groups and school orchestras when they have a competent leading person.
But when the children are already realizing the whole content of the world and when they are realizing that making music will never change the decisive powers in this capitalist world, so any trial for musical motivation has got no sense. Then there has to be looked for an activity for the children where they can find their sense of life for their own.
Tactics of the teaching person with Steiner pupils and Steiner parents: "give them away" or enlighten them
When there are children from Steiner schools in an instrumental lesson then this is a difficult situation because the parents are paying for the Steiner school much money, so they mostly expect extra performances by the music teacher which are impossible to fulfill. Add to this there is mostly a badly lead Steiner school orchestra demotivating the pupil's person. Considering this the Steiner pupil's persons have to be rated very critically. The parents are rating this situation as "fate", and the child is suffering more and more for the "3 months festivities"... Unfortunately this humiliation of the children is never punished until today.
In any case the blocking of energy by the Steiner school can be that strong with the pupil's person that the Steiner pupils are more or less always depressive in the lesson with the instrumental teacher, because so many problems are charging the pupils so they hardly want to play any music instrument yet.
Health damages in music professions as an orchestra musician
Orchestra profession can be recommended only with limitations because this profession is provoking much stress and there are not only physical damaged with bad postures of the body sitting always on the chairs with a music instrument or eye damages always reading music with bad light conditions or ear damages provoked by high frequencies or brass, but there can be also psychological damages by the enduring surrender to the dictation of a conductor / woman conductor. Also the psychological charge in the constant competition situation is very heavy. Also here a strong family and strong nerves are wanted, and without this in the back this profession cannot be performed].
-- Ivan Galamian, profile: http://www.sharmusic.com/itemdy00.asp?T1=IG2DVD&Cat=
-- Ivan Galamian with violin in 1977: http://www.peterschaaf.com/galamian/
-- background image: violin key with flower notes: 123rf.com