Violin/practice question



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  


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Bill Alpert


BEFORE YOU ASK, PLEASE NOTE: I cannot answer questions about instrument repair or value. You need to visit a reputable local violin shop for such assistance, or do some reasearch online: I can answer questions related to the study of the violin, teaching violin and the performance of concert (classical) music. I'm happy to assist anyone who is serious about his/her violin journey as a pathway to personal growth and musical achievement.


I am a professional symphony violinist, studio recording musician and also a private studio teacher specializing in the Suzuki Method. I've arranged music for small ensembles and voice, and have contracted musical performances in a variety of venues.

American String Teachers Association, Suzuki Institute of the Americas

B.A. Music, UCLA, California State Polytechnic University, Suzuki Pedagogical studies at the Suzuki Institute of Colorado and at Occidental College.

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