Sunday, September 20, 2009

Viola Ensemble!!!!

There is nothing better, and I mean nothing, than the dulcet sounds of 14-16 violists playing the light classics.  It just shows viola versatility!!  We are an inner voice, an outer voice, a bass voice, a soaring melody, the rhythm section, a dessert sauce, a lethal weapon.....

Doing arrangements of things for instruments other than for what was originally written is an age-old tradition.  Even Berlioz would substitute instruments, back in the day.  As violists, if we ever want to get a shot at some of the great melodies, we have to take matters into our own hands!!!  All my students are required to do a transcription.  It can be anything from Van Halen to Van Beethoven, as long as it features the viola in some way.  This week, I'm working on the Radetzky March for the viola ensemble.  Requisite clapping will be achieved by audience members, or each violist slapping his/her stand partner upside the head with their bow.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Fingering "rules"

The following are a few rules that define how I am going to create fingerings.  Keep in mind, some rules supercede others, and the number ONE golden rule is:  You must shift according to your best strengths.  That however does not give you free permission to avoid your fourth finger!!

These will be added onto...but to get you started:

Some rules for fingering:
  1. avoid shift in the middle of a tie/slur
  2. only cross strings in a tie if its appropriate with the phrase
  3. its better to stay on same string during a phrase, EXCEPT when it makes you sound bad
  4. first position is always a safe position 
  5. use ritards, string changes, open strings and slurs to hide your shift

Monday, September 14, 2009

Cold Hands

Dear Nerdy Violist
I have really cold hands all the time. Any suggestions for warming them up and keeping them warm.

Orchestra Rep Class Repertoire and Schedule Fall 09

Orchestral Repertoire Class/ Audition Boot Camp mission:

The hour-long weekly Orchestra Repertoire Class prepares junior and senior undergrad and graduate students for professional orchestra auditions. Each week, one to two different excerpts are assigned. These are often coordinated with actual professional auditions that you may be taking. Every aspect of the orchestral repertoire is explored from bowings, tempi, fingerings and dynamics, to sight-reading techniques, to being an active and contributing orchestral musician. The psychological aspect of auditioning is given equal emphasis, with exercises given on how to be flexible during an audition, nutrition and sleep preparation, and how to prepare mentally for any stressful contingency. Mock auditions take place as mid-term and final exams, and once a year students participate in the “Audition Boot Camp” which utilizes techniques from the United States Navy SEALS and sports psychologists. Students participate in exercises created by Don Greene, author of books such as “Audition Success” “Fight Your Fear and Win” and “Performing Under Pressure.”

Fall 2009 Rep: (may be subject to change)

9/14 Beethoven 5 (mvmt 2,3); Mendelssohn Scherzo
9/21 Mendelssohn Scherzo; Tchaikovsky 6 (mvmt 1)
9/28 Shostakovich 5 (mvmt 1, viola section solo); Beethoven 3 (scherzo)
10/5 Brahms Haydn Variations V, VII, VIII
10/12 the dreaded Don Juan
10/19 Mozart 35 "Haffner" (complete)
11/2 Tannhauser
11/9 Berlioz Roman Carnival; Bruckner 4 (mvmt 2)
11/16 Magic Flute; audition centering exercises
11/23 Mendelssohn Italian Symphony 4 (complete)
11/30 Brahms 2 (complete)
12/7 review and focusing exercises

I'll email the music a week in advance, feel free to get it even earlier on your own. I'll try to have a complete book made before midterms.