My Goals as Your Teacher

June 14th, 2013 | Posted by BaylaK in Practicing | Teaching - (Comments Off)


Hear – listen to yourself – if you can’t hear it you can’t fix it!

Take criticism well – if you shrink from the truth, you won’t be able to grow as quickly

Do not fear mistakes. There are none. – Miles Davis

Identify technical problems and fix them– I can give you tools

Develop musical ideas – study scores – analyze and create appropriate characters

Practice regularly and joyfully – tone your willpower – remember, this is FOR YOU

Strategize – set up specific goals – knock them down one by one

Identify strengths and weaknesses – form programs featuring both

Stay in harmony with your body – learn when to take breaks, when not to push

Set your own goals – demanding yet not overwhelming

Tap the wellsprings of your creativity

Teach and inspire yourself in all the years to come



Practice regularly, 4-6 hours a day

Listen to yourself with absolute concentration

Record practicing, lessons, and concerts

Demand the highest possible standard in your playing

We are what we repeatedly do.

            Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit. –Aristotle

Recognize and appreciate your own progress

Study more advanced violinists with openness and curiosity

Care for your body and nurture your soul

Take responsibility for your own progress and musical development

Immerse yourself in music and the violin for this very short time we have together

Find the joy in every aspect of your life!



Orchestra musician? Chamber musician? Soloist? Freelance musician? College teacher? High school teacher? Private studio teacher? Rock ‘n’ roll star? Country fiddler? Studio musician? Composer of violin etudes? Writer of articles about violin? Competition winner? Competition judge? Violin shop? Conductor? Chamber music coach? Panelist? Start a music school? Start a band? Start an orchestra? Start a magazine? Become a manager? Become an accountant? Write cadenzas? Start a festival? Tour? …..

The world is your oyster, and you have no idea what you are going to do! What you can be certain of is that the practice and exploration you do now will set you up for your entry into the world of music. The more solid your technical foundation, the easier it will be to obtain a standard job. The more solid your musical foundation, the more likely it is you will rise to the top of your profession.  The more initiative you develop, the more flexible you will be in finding and creating your own opportunities in life.

A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be

 ultimately at peace with himself. What one can be, one must be.

–        Abraham Maslow

Woodshedding: Technical Perfection

June 14th, 2013 | Posted by BaylaK in Goal 06: Learn Rapidly | Practicing - (Comments Off)


Left Hand:
Intonation first
Practice slowly and legato. Match open strings. Find fourths and octaves. Listen for the ring. Use the drone for difficult keys (such as those with flats in them).
Plan your finger patterns. If the passage is fast, “hover” when ascending and have fingers already waiting when descending (even though this will not be perfectly comfortable at slow tempos). Always work in the grid.
Anticipate string crossings – left hand arrives before right; sound the doublestop.
Slur across shifts; play the note before the shift, slur to the note after the shift, repeat that note and slur as you return to the beginning note. Release before you move. Also practice hitting high notes from nowhere. Is your left elbow in the proper alignment? Where does your thumb need to be?
If you are playing moving notes under a slur, practice high lifts and drops; then play through with electricity in the fingers, but keep the fingers close.
If you are playing separate bows, you do not need as much action in the finger; be gentle. The rule is: for the start of the bow or on a string crossing, the action is in the bow, and the left hand relaxes; when the left fingers articulate under a slur, the bow is quiet and the left hand is active. You can reduce much tension in the left hand this way.
Remember that fast playing is light playing on the fingertips; slow playing transfers weight from the arm (just a bit) and feels deeper, and vibrato helps enormously to keep things loose. Do you have a footie?
For high notes, find the balance and the C shape; alternate popping the finger and releasing to the open string.
Play scales releasing to open strings or harmonics to reduce tension and gain speed.
Practice the necklace technique – play one beat plus one note really fast; repeat; play the next beat plus one note really fast; repeat; then string the two beats together. This is particularly helpful for coordinating bow and left hand in fast passages.
Practice in rhythms – long, short short short long, etc. Keep the bow arm relaxed.
Practice with the metronome and line up the left hand exactly. A good technique is an even technique!
Right Hand:
Sounding Point and Relaxation

Watch your sounding point, especially on bow changes. (A mirror can be useful for this – watch the shape between the bow and the bridge.) In general, keep a steady sounding point.
Practice in the part of the bow you will be using. Mark it if necessary (LH for lower half, eg.). Try to use the same amount of bow as well. Use the correct part of your arm.
Keep a steady sounding point when working on technical passages. Make as beautiful a sound as you can. In general keep a steady bow speed; keep your arm smooth and avoid jerks or lunges.
When working on a melody, consider bow angles needed to avoid false accents. Mark FA (frog away) or FI (frog in) if you notice a blemish in your line.

Put yourself on a metronome diet; practice with subdivisions, marking them if necessary.
The necklace technique is also helpful for the bow.

Accent string crossings for slurred passages, but do this with speed, not tension. Practice legato doublestops, pivoting smoothly, for lyric melodies.
The character of the passage will ultimately determine whether you want clear bow changes or smooth, but usually when learning a technical passage, clear is better.

Write in dynamic shapes (microphrasing), especially in Bach. Even adjectives describing character will help.
Make the phrase first with just the bow, then with just the vibrato, then with both.
Mark difficult passages with a star in the margin. When you have five minutes just do the stars!
Analysis and problem-solving are the heart of your work in learning a piece. The pace at which you can learn will depend on how difficult the piece is in relation to your technical level. If most of the piece is at the very top, or beyond, what you are easily able to sightread, you should expect to spend many hours of slow work before playing it up to tempo. Take whatever time is necessary to work on each page of music. Slow is better; even though it feels at first as if you are making no progress, if you are really practicing with understanding, things will start to snowball, and you will not only sound better, you will have an unshakably solid technical foundation.