Lora Staples - beginning violin and fiddle expert

How to Play Brahms' Lullaby - Part 2

Going deeper with the Lullaby by Brahms - Bow Speed

In this second video, Lora continues talking about the famous Lullaby by Johannes Brahms, focusing on the concept of "bow speed."

Released on March 11, 2015

  
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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

Hi, I'm Laura Staples, and I'm here today for Virtual Sheet Music, and we're going to continue our discussion on the Brahms' Lullaby. In the first video, we talked about the three ingredients of tone production and then we specifically worked on bow placement for skipping the bow in lane four, which is a huge challenge.

Now in this video, we're going to focus more on bow speed, which we already touched on in the first video because, remember close to the finger board does that use lots of speed or a little bit of speed? Near the finger board loves big bows and fast bow speed sounds best that way. So that's harder, it's harder to control the bow when we're using fast bow strokes. That's why this video is going to be dedicated to both speed.

So we're going to now, we have to stay in lane four, because that's already set, that's our set point, and we're adapting the other ingredients to that set point. So we're going to work on getting our speed fast, but we're also going to let the speed serve the phrase. And people freak out when they hear the word "phrasing", because they think it's this complicated thing that's either right or wrong and that's not true. Phrasing is how you feel the music, granted sometimes you might feel the music wrong. But generally, on a simple melody like this, you're going to feel it in a natural way.

And so I want you to just trust yourself. Sing it, whether you can sing well or not, sing it because your breathing guides you. Your breathing is equivalent to your bow speed. And when you are sustaining a long note, you're saving your air, that's the same thing as slowing your bow down so that you save your bow. So think of the bow kind of like your lungs, all right? And that'll help you to make choices as far as bow speed and phrasing.

Now if we examine the first six or so bars of the Brahms', that's about the first half of the phrase [music]. Doesn't that sound like the first sentence of the paragraph? I think it does. It's either a period or a comma there, but that's a pause right there. Now, when we sing it, where's the high point of that phrase? [music] It's on the high note, and oftentimes that's going to be the case, the high note will be the target or the apex of the phrase. So we're going to be loudest on that E, and we're going to be using the greatest bow speed at that point, and everything is going to be building more or less toward that E.

There's little hills and steppy stones in-between, but the big picture we're climbing to the E and we're going to climb a little bit down from that E to set the phrase gently down, okay? Let's try that. [music] I keep wanting to go to fast. So let's go nice and slow, ready and go and, [music] that's your bow speed. And you set it down gently by slowing your bow down, all right? That's hard to do. It's taking all of my concentration to do it right now. So it sounds easy, but there's a reason why it sounds so special and that's because it's pretty hard to pull off.

So work on it separately. Work on mastering lane four so that that's not an issue for you. First, do that on scales, do it on open strings. Practice it in the mirror. Once you're pretty comfortable using pretty big bows in lane four then try that first half phrase, Bar 2 through 6 and try to climb toward that E and then try to relax it and set it down gently for the end of that little sentence, okay?

That's it for bow speed which serves our phrasing.

In the next video, we'll talk a little bit more about bow weight and then you will be armed with some powerful information about the three secret ingredients that unlock the magic in your playing. I'll see you in the next segment.
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