Evva Mizerska - cello expert

Technique of string crossing with long slurs - Study Op.76a No.1 by D. Popper

Learn how to approach the first etude of Popper's Op. 76

In this first video, Evva teaches you how to study and practice the first Etude Op. 76 by Popper.

Released on February 2, 2022

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

I started with the first fragment of study No.1 by David Popper. Study No.1 Opus 76, part one. So it's an earlier volume of Opus 76 serving as a sort of preparatory exercise towards the harder studies later.

Now they are not so difficult because they are mainly in the first position, but they are really very well covering various problems of the right hand, as well as the left hand to some extent. This particular study will focus on the string crossing on longer slurs. We are in six eight. So most of our bars will be all in one bow and they will cover various strings, so you will have to learn how to move your fingers across the strings on the bow. How to manipulate them to string cross really smoothly. Now, as far as the left hand is concerned, you will need to practice earlier preparation of your fingers when you change the strings.

For that reason, you may want to start this with slightly shorter slurs. For example, three notes per bow in those bars that are with six quarters. For example, bar number one, instead of playing the full bar, you can play three and three. In the bar where you have long notes, it just doesn't make sense to split it, so you just keep it as it is. Then in the next bar, you can split it just at the beginning.

Now when you do that, let's have a look first at our left hand, what is it doing there? So you will need to play it legato. When you string cross from B and A from G, what you really should be doing is to learn how to prepare your left hand earlier, how to press that G before your bow gets there. So if you do it at the same time, it will create a little bit of a bump. Also, there is a chance you are going to be a little bit earlier with your bow, and you will hear a little bit of an open D string earlier. So you play B, A, keep that A going while you're pressing your G. Make sure your forefinger is really round. It's not an easy thing to do.

Then only once you are ready there, you cross with your bow. So it's quite good to practice those things really slowly at first, and be rather patient. Now in the second half of the same bar, we have E, D, and then you have B. So make sure you prepare that B before you get there with your bow. In most of the bars, you will have examples like this. For example, in bar number 3, we have C, A and then please prepare your F sharp earlier. Prepare it, press it down before you get there with your bow, so that we can have that really legato connection. This is legato you achieve in your left hand.

Now for example, in bar five, you are preparing your E sooner. So C, A. Prepare your E, press it and then G, F sharp. Press your D, only then gets there with your bow. So this is going to make sure you have a really good legato in the left hand. Now we should be talking a little bit about to the bow. What is the bow doing there? And this is probably even more important.

Now the job of the right hand is not an easy one, either. You will need to start with practicing the movement of your fingers, changing the strings on their own. So first of all, try this exercise. Position your bow on the D string, so it's in the middle. Then straighten your fingers to get to the G string. Then curve them a little bit to go back to the level of the D string, and then curve them up even more to get to the A string. Now, this is the sort of movement you will have to help you to prepare the change of the bow, and then get there with your arm.

So we have different levels of the arm on different strings, but if you only use your arm, it will sound quite bumpy. For example, going from G to D. If you just do it, it feels quite stiff, but also it sounds quite stiff as well. If you prepare with the fingers, so you start on the G, but then you carry your fingers and change it, and then once you do that then the arm will follow. So the fingers will prepare the change, and then the arm will follow. Changing the level similarly here to the A string. If you have to do it across the string, you will curve the fingers and adjust on the way, the level of the arm, but always the fingers will start it. The smaller muscles will make sure the movement is smoother.

Now, if you go to the opposite, you will start from the A string, you will straighten your fingers together, and then same here, the arm will always follow second. So you could practice that too. First of all, just three notes per bow. It's quite good to actually practice without vibrato. Although that will sound a bit wrong, we really hear what your bow is doing. Whether you really not cheating with the legato, you are not making up for it with vibrato. Once you have done that a few times, you can try six notes per bow. Let me actually have a look at a different fragment. For example, from the middle, just where I stopped my first presentation in bar 17. So you will have... Look at the fingers and again, I'm deliberately not using my vibrato. So you can really hear the action of the bow. Look at the left hand, I'm trying to prepare my fingers earlier.

So I hope you will find it useful and these sort of exercises will really improve your legato in lots of different pieces, obviously. Including the first prelude of the Bach is weighted, which in similar key and that sort of... It's also used. This is the sort of movement you are going to need. Now, let me play now, once in tempo, the middle fragments from bar 17 to the end and happy practice.
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