I'm learning the Violin I part for the Enigma Variations, and I'm finding Variation VII to be especially challenging. Are there any specific technical hints that might help with learning passages such as those in measures 25-33 and measures 39-42?
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Hi M, You asked:
How can I solve problems in a specific symphonic passage? Are there any specific technical hints that can be used?
It's always great to take a step back at tricky passages, be they in the solo or in the orchestra rep. Most people jump right in and start hacking away, but a simple strategy before you start will save much time and frustration.
An important preface is that you must allow sufficient time to learn any type of new music; last minute cramming often won't hold up on the stage, even if it seems to work in the practice room. Begin with a clear mind, and a relaxed approach.
Here are some steps you might follow:
Begin with your end conception of the music in place. Mark your target tempo and expressive choices and possible fingerings in the score at this point.
Based on your technical ability, identify the particular passages that are problematic. Clearly articulate whether the problems are related to bow or left hand. And whether they fall into the category of pitch, tone, rhythm or other expressive problems.
Apply an appropriate practice strategy to the problem spots; be sure to work in small units of just a few notes/beats, before expanding into longer passages. Note: repeating a passage over and over is *not* usually a helpful strategy.
Stabilize a passage, and move on to the next. If you've worked well, the passage should reach a point of stability sooner in your next practice session, the following day.
This type of focussed work is taxing. Break it up with other types of practice, or with some other activity.
M - I hope this is helpful to you. If you'd like some specific help with practice strategies for the Elgar, drop me a note at my e-mail: bill at thealpertstudio.com.