As some of you may know, Music Theory (the explanations and meanings about how music works, and the science and notations that explain it) really interests me. In college, music theory was somewhat of a challenge to me. Because it was such a challenge to me, I ended up taking more of an interest in it after college. I see now how vital this knowledge is for young musicians. I have grown passionate about incorporating music theory into every lesson I teach. No matter what age or level of my students, I try to include theory. To be a fully engaged and educated musician, it is important to understand the language of music. Understanding theory helps one relate to other instrumentalists in any genre or style. It can be so easy to fall into the trap of ‘I’m learning the violin’, and then only think about playing the instrument. In reality, being an instrumentalist is just one part of being a musician. Yes, you need to learn the intricacies of your instrument. But what about rhythm, scales, intervals, harmonies, chords, vocabulary, ear training and notation?
Recently I have found some more great resources to use during lessons. If you have questions about them, please let me know.
For me, there will always be more to learn. This is somewhat intimidating, but also exciting!
Happy Thursday everyone!!
I have started the process of recording a few supplemental video lessons for my students to help aid their weekly practice. I think these videos will be useful in reinforcing concepts I teach during each private lesson. It can be hard to remember everything we touch on, so these can be little reminders during your practice times. If you have requests for video lessons please contact me. Below is a sample of a few lessons I recently recorded to give you an idea of what they look like.
For students in high school and/or working on scales, the above two-octave D Major Scale showcases a specific rhythm of quarter notes and eighth notes. The quarter notes are used on the tonic note of the scale each time it returns, D in this case. This rhythm will help with anchoring the player within the key of the scale especially when shifting from 1st to 3rd position. You may either slur the notes or play them separately.
This is just one example of how to play a D Major two octave scale. But, this is how the MSBOA (Michigan School Band & Orchestra Association) has Solo & Ensemble proficiency examinations notated. Please visit their website for more information if you plan to perform in Solo & Ensemble this year. This is a link to the Solo and Ensemble Proficiency Scales Guide. http://www.smso.org/Education/Proficiency%20Scales%20Strings.pdf
Along with different variations in rhythms there are different variations in how you can finger a passage. I have notated two different ways of playing this scale. The top option shifts into 3rd position on the A string note D with a shift back in measure 4 to 1st position. The bottom fingering has the entire passage performed in 3rd position with no shifting. You have the ability to choose your fingering based on your preference and skill. Shifting can create different tone qualities. The bottom option can cut down on unwanted interruptions in sound that could result from shifting. If you wish to download and print this specific example I have attached the PDF I created below.
Ultimately, check with your school orchestra directors for their input if you have any questions on these guidelines. :)
Syncopation: stressing the normally unaccented beats.
Above are two examples of eighth note syncopations:
1) simple eighth notes (1 + 2 +) with the syncopation tied together.
2) same exact rhythm written in a 'simplified' manner: an eighth note followed by a quarter note and then an eighth note. (1 + 2 +). Just remember that 2 eighth notes tied together=1 quarter note.
Sounds easy right? Not necessarily. Syncopation in music and in violin playing can be difficult. It is almost like learning how to pat your head and rub your belly simultaneously & then switch it around instantly. In western music today the accented beats are typically the 1st and 3rd or the 2nd and 4th beats of 4/4 music. Listen to the radio and this is typically the type of pop music background beat you will hear, there are exceptions of course. And because of this most people are not accustomed to hearing the inner beats or intricate syncopated rhythms that can be intertwined amidst the larger beats, sometimes this can be those eighth notes above.
To practice syncopation first try clapping and saying all the small beats like in the first example, 1 + 2 +. Then work your way into saying the small beats but only clapping the larger overall syncopation, so where the +2 is underlined, you would only clap once and not twice, 1 + 2 +.
If you are just as confused as Mr. Syncopation below that is OK! & if it would help for me to make a video that more aurally and visually explains this just post in the comments below & I would be happy to do so at some point. :D
Follow my studio blog for tips, tricks, & performance updates.