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Viola Workshop/Masterclass Videos
Pick up tips from the experts!
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (6 votes) 
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ELCBK
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February 6, 2022 - 5:14 pm
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AndrewH posted about one of Kim Kashkashian's Seminars elsewhere - here's a different one that also seems really good, along with other good VIOLA video tips!

Viola Visions: The Karen Tuttle Heritage: Coordination Techniques and Healthy Body Mechanics (New World Symphony, America's Orchestral Academy). 

 

Viola Visions: Viola Solo Master Class (New World Symphony, America's Orchestral Academy). 

 

Here's a Viola Masterclass with Karen Dreyfus (Music Academy of The West). 

 

This Video's a little different take on preventing tendinitis - "In the Viola Studio with Carol Rodland: Some Left Hand Tips". 

Btw, I believe it's important to have my elbow and thumb under far enough and the knuckles parallel to the fingerboard, to have my fingers in the best position to stretch - but I'm still working at it. (lol)

 

"THE ART OF THE BOW ARM" with Yizhak Schotten.  He gives an explanation of how the Viola is different than the Violin.

 

 

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/a7/8e/60/a78e60040e9a1cf4ed223dd759383ea3.jpg

...there are more videos with helpful tips at each of these YouTube Channels. 

- Emily 

 

←Viola watercolor art by Jamie Hansen.

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ELCBK
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February 7, 2022 - 10:18 am
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@JohnG , @Ripton , @wtw , @ABitRusty & everyone else!

Wow, looking at these videos closer, I couldn't have found them at a better time! 

GREAT TIPS for Violinists, as well as Violists and Cellists - from beginner to advanced! 

Tough Decisions Emoticon

...maybe it's easier to be focused on not causing myself pain while I'm searching to sound half-way decent, at this particular time, because everything is new to me on the Viola. 

Trying to approach a healthy way to use my muscles and joints while playing a viola, or violin with my legs up, in bed - has been an interesting challenge. 

Making me re-think how I play the violin now, also. 

Been slowly trying to wean myself off watching the violin fingerboard this last couple months.  Seems more of a necessity with the viola, because it's already harder to see around the bow - compared to the violin.  I'm sure this will also help remove some unnecessary tension while I play. 

https://thumbs.dreamstime.com/b/vector-illustration-cat-playing-violin-catoon-musician-cat-cartoon-cat-vest-vector-illustration-cat-playing-violin-142312729.jpg

 

- Emily

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ELCBK
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February 7, 2022 - 3:02 pm
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I knew, before I even touched my Viola, that playing Reels would be harder. 

At first, I passed over this video, by Yizhak Schotten. 

Turns out, it is NOT a video about playing Paganini, but about more BOWING... fast passages and string crossings on the Viola - and getting them to sound good!  

 

 

Working hard to achieve clean sound and clear articulation on the Fiddle will be a long-term endeavor for me, but even though I knew VIOLA strings would respond differently, I didn't anticipate the wider string spacing or bridge shape to be an issue... just another challenge. 

 

@Worldfiddler - 

Loved watching/listening to your Viola playing, Mr. Jim! 

https://fiddlerman.com/forum/c.....a/#p123253

Do you have any pointers that would help us Fiddlers, who love fast & lively dance music, make the transition to playing them on the Viola? 

https://www.lanesboro.lib.mn.us/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/cat_fiddle.jpg

 

- Emily

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AndrewH
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February 8, 2022 - 1:58 am
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In general, the viola is not very forgiving with bowing technique. You need to dig into the string more, but it has to come from weight and not pressure. It should feel like your arm is hanging from the bow, not pressing it into the string. To play anything fast, use less bow while maintaining weight; think of playing "in" the string. Most of the action should come from the wrist.

Also, you'll get a quicker response if you play on the lower half of the bow. This is the opposite of what many fiddlers do on the violin.

Take a look at Nokuthula Ngwenyama here. This is not fiddle music, but it's fast and lively and involves a lot of string crossing. Note how close to the frog she's playing most of the time, how much of the action is coming from her wrist, and how she keeps a low elbow and relies on arm weight.

And although this is definitely classical, take a look at Antoine Tamestit in the fast passage here from about 3:55 to 4:51 of this video and observe that he uses a lot of weight and rarely leaves the lower half of the bow.

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JohnG
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February 8, 2022 - 2:26 am
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@AndrewH - Interesting about using bottom half of bow. I just posted tonight, in my blog, that I do this and am trying to use the upper half more!

The old curmudgeon!

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ELCBK
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February 8, 2022 - 9:46 am
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@AndrewH 

Thanks You!

Great tips & examples, Andrew! 

I noticed Yizhak Schotten says much the same and gives some great bowing exercises. 

 

@JohnG - 

Yizhak Schotten said something that took me by surprise, along the lines of: "for viola bowing you only use the frog and the tip - the middle area is just for connecting the two"! 

Sorry, can't remember off hand, which of the 2 videos I posted that he explained & elaborated on the subject. 

Seems kinda opposite from starting violin, but I already play a lot near the frog - because it's just comfortable for me. 😊 

 

https://i.etsystatic.com/6415788/r/il/0f4de7/2560970998/il_794xN.2560970998_635m.jpg

 

- Emily

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AndrewH
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February 9, 2022 - 2:54 am
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It always depends on what you're playing. For violists, the lower half of the bow is preferred for faster bow strokes because the string doesn't respond as quickly when the weight is far from the contact point. If you're playing something slower and more lyrical, you may want to use the full bow (and rely more on bow speed) to get more of a singing tone.

Most beginner/intermediate violin and viola students tend to mainly use the upper half of the bow (I did for a long time) and have to get used to using the lower half, so it's interesting that both of you tend to do the opposite.

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Worldfiddler
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February 16, 2022 - 1:59 pm
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Do you have any pointers that would help us Fiddlers, who love fast & lively dance music, make the transition to playing them on the Viola?

@Emily

All I can think to say is that on viola, everything is bigger, by about 10%, compared to the violin. Violin has a 14" scale length, my viola 15-1/2" scale length, and some violas are 16".

Strings are longer, heavier, bow is heavier too, finger spacing between notes increases too. The viola bow is about the same length as the violin, but you'll need slightly longer bow travel for each note, so that you are able to draw the tone out fully.

So, on average, everything is increased by about 10%.

If you practice by reducing your speed by about 10%, that should help too.

Those instructional videos you posted are really good, btw.

dancing
Mr Jim

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ELCBK
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February 16, 2022 - 5:35 pm
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@Worldfiddler -

I've had my new 16" Viola (Edgar) for 2 weeks now. 

It felt like a HUGE, awkward beast when I first played it - now, my violin just seems smaller in sound AND size. (lol) 

I thought I was fairly prepared for some of the differences, jumping from one 5-string to the other, but the bowing distances between the Viola strings and bowing angle changes really caught me by surprise! 

I tried the Viola version of one of my Violin bows - it was WAY TOO HEAVY for me.  Right now I use my stiffer, Fiddlerman CF Weave Violin bow that weighs somewhere between 60-62grams. 

I'm sure I could use a bow upgrade at this point, but I have my doubts about finding a CF Viola bow that's light enough - or if a better CF Violin bow will work, instead. 

Anyway, I can see I need to spend much more time with some of those videos! (lol)

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/58/8e/27/588e27594348841ac22e64875f01f976.jpg

Thank you soooo much for your help! 

- Emily

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Worldfiddler
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February 21, 2022 - 12:00 pm
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@Emily - glad to hear you're enjoying the new viola!

Just one thing I'd say - you might be better with a heavier bow (a viola bow of some kind), because the strings need that extra weight, especially if playing "off the string", or detached bowing.

Try to persevere with the extra weight if you can. It will really help to draw out the tone, especially on the lower strings.

Mr Jim dancing

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ELCBK
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February 22, 2022 - 12:22 am
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@Worldfiddler -

Thank you!

Yeah, guess it's time to talk to Fiddlerman about bows!

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ELCBK
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February 22, 2022 - 9:17 pm
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@AndrewH -

 

AndrewH said
In general, the viola is not very forgiving with bowing technique. You need to dig into the string more, but it has to come from weight and not pressure. It should feel like your arm is hanging from the bow, not pressing it into the string. To play anything fast, use less bow while maintaining weight; think of playing "in" the string. Most of the action should come from the wrist. 

 

I guess I got sidetracked, but meant to ask if you could please explain further about the phrase, think of playing "in" the string (?) 

...it's been bugging me, because it's not the first time I've heard this same phrase used on the forum.  Seems a little ambiguous to me, so I'd really like to have a clear understanding of it's meaning.  

Can you please try to help me with this? 

https://patriotden.com/fotki/smileys/Fiddle_Player_Smiley_Face.GIF

- Emily

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AndrewH
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February 23, 2022 - 4:02 am
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On the violin you generally need a light touch and should rely more on bow speed than bow weight. But on the viola the bow needs a solid connection to the string, without being pressed downward. The idea of bowing "in" the string is having your arm move as if the bow hair is just below the string, even if it obviously can't go through the string.

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ELCBK
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February 23, 2022 - 8:42 am
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@AndrewH -

Could "playing in the string" be interpreted then as "playing for the fullest tone"? 

I can see where someone could think it just means to "press harder", though. 

Thank you for trying to help me with this.

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Gordon Shumway
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Sorry, but I'm perplexed here, as Nicky Benedetti @4:09 gives the opposite advice, and my experience agrees with hers.

There was someone on VCom who complained that all their teacher ever said was "Play in the string, play in the string." over and over again without ever explaining what it meant. I think at the time I suggested getting a better teacher. But since then I've come to suspect that playing with sufficient pressure was what his teacher was trying to say. But still, he needed a better teacher.

Andrew

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ELCBK
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@Gordon Shumway -

Maybe I'm just mincing words here, but does "playing in the string" imply playing heavy-handed across the board for a "stronger tone", or is it considered "trying to play with the fullest tone you can achieve on each string" (without vibrato)? 

Great video, btw - I've watched it previously, before I ever heard the phrase "play in the string".

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Gordon Shumway
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February 23, 2022 - 11:15 am
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ELCBK said
@Gordon Shumway -

Maybe I'm just mincing words here, but does "playing in the string" imply playing heavy-handed across the board for a "stronger tone", or is it considered "trying to play with the fullest tone you can achieve on each string" (without vibrato)? 

Great video, btw - I've watched it previously, before I ever heard the phrase "play in the string".

  

Like I say, all we can do is interpret what it might mean - until you find a video with someone explaining it. You have invented the term "heavy-handed", and I'm not sure exactly where you are putting emphasis (every string is different, and you should always listen to what sound you are getting from each - failing to do that might be heavy-handed). Nicky says apply too much pressure THEN PULL BACK A LOT. Failing to pull back would be heavy-handed, sure.

If someone has never produced a professional tone, then they may not get what is being said. My advice would be to choose the string you like best - it's often the D string and don't do anything but play slow notes on the D string, experimenting with every form of variation (try to play as loud as possible) - whereas Nicky is doing Mendelssohn on the E string, but that may not be best for a beginner, since intonation problems are also common there.

Vibrato is a different problem. I'd suggest first developing best tone with vibrato then seeing what you can achieve without. In the case of Nicky's approach, doing that without vibrato might be inviting cacophony. There's a difference between a pro practising without vibrato and a beginner practising without. In theory, teaching beginners, Nicky should be able to remember what it was like being a beginner. Are her lessons even really aimed at beginners? No - a lot of intermediate players need to think about basics once in a while.

Anyway, this is supposed to be a viola thread, but if/since viola-playing involves more bow weight, then it's all grist for the mill.

Andrew

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ELCBK
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February 23, 2022 - 2:17 pm
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I have a reason for my questions. 

I emphasized "without vibrato" because I don't believe it enters into the picture, here.

I know of someone who I think has misinterpreted the phrase "play in the string" and their playing has suffered the consequences. 

This may be a clever catchphrase, but it doesn't really help anyone if the meaning is not easily understood - and I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who thinks this is vague.

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