Lora Staples - beginning violin and fiddle expert

How movements can help with your violin playing

Learn how important it is to "move" with the music while playing.

In this video, Lora talks about "moving your body" during violin practice and performance, and how movement can help with your results a great deal.

Released on May 6, 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 Lora Staples with Red Desert Violin and I'm here today for Virtual Sheet Music to talk to you about movement when we play.

I'm currently working on filming my Suzuki Violin Book 3 course and a huge objective of that course is to help students make the leap from sounding beginnerish into sounding expressive and mature and advanced. A big part of that is learning to express the music and freeing ourselves to move and feel the music through our whole bodies.

I find the best starting point for this concept is with the feet. Specifically, transferring weight from foot to foot when we play. So I'd like to show you a couple of pieces that you can use to get started on this concept and if you haven't done it before, you're going to love it. It is so liberating to get unstuck and just to feel the freedom of movement while we play. It's like being able to get a deep breath after you've been holding your breath for a long time.

So before you try any pieces, I would just like you to experiment with a scale, maybe G-major, whatever your easiest scale is and go nice and slow so that you can just easily shift your weight from foot to foot. I don't want to fuss with dictating to you what foot to transfer the weight to. I think that one foot makes more sense than the other foot at certain times but I don't want to bog you down with the details.

Just shift your weight from foot to foot, whatever feels the most natural to you and shift with each bow change. That's a really, easy, obvious way to get started.

So I'm going to play a G-major scale. I'm on one foot. I'm shifting. I'm on another foot. It's so relaxing, it's just mesmerizing to do this exercise. So please try that on a scale and then I'd like to show you four of my favorite waltzes of all time. They are out of the fiddle collection available on virtual sheet music. There are five waltzes in that collection but one doesn't work as well for this concept because it has more rapid bow changes. The reason waltzes work so well with this exercise is because the bow changes are relatively slow.

The four waltzes that I've chosen out of this book are Madeleine by my good friend Larry Unger. And three Irish waltzes, South Wind, Si Bheag Si Mhor by the blind harper, Carolan, and then the famous Star of the County Down.

So, let me just demonstrate the beginnings of these just to get you started and then I hope you'll download these and have fun freeing yourself to move with your music.

Okay, so Madeleine starts like this.

Now I put a little swing in it. If you want to play it straight, that's fine. And by swing, I mean either doing the eighth notes lopsided or even..

You kind of get to choose which one you prefer on your waltzes, on your fiddle waltzes you get to choose.

Then South Wind goes like this. Now I'm going to add some slurs that are not printed in the music because I want longer bows for this exercise.

I'm slurring right there.

Now when you have short note values you might not want to shift your weight or you'll be looking like you do karate. Just use common sense or shift your weight just a tiny bit to reflect the tiny bowing.

Si Bheag Si Mhor.

I'm gonna add slurs.

Beautiful. Love that waltz. I love them all.

Star of the County Down, I'm gonna add slurs.

Then some classical pieces which are in the virtual sheet music library that work very well for developing this concept is the Ave Maria, not so much the Schubert one, but the Bach/Gounod.

Starts out.

Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring, even though that is full of eighth notes, it's pretty much a pattern of slurring three notes together throughout the whole piece.

The Meditation from Thais, there are tons of pieces in the virtual sheet music library that you can pull out. Try to find pieces that are kind of slow or easy, or both. Those are the pieces that are going to work really well for learning this concept. It's a simple concept to apply, and once you get that ingrained in you as you play, you can add a little bit of bow distribution and dynamics to your playing and combine that with a little bit of a plan for how you are going to shape your phrases and those three things combined will really propel you from beginner to an advanced, mature sound.

So, have fun with it. Thanks for watching. Post your questions below, and I'll see you next time.
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Elmer Kreisel on August 26, 2016 @3:14 pm PST
Very nicely done. Thanks,elmer
Ann Prewett * VSM MEMBER * on January 12, 2016 @3:27 am PST
What do these cost?
Lora * VSM MEMBER * on January 13, 2016 @8:02 am PST
Hi Ann,
What are you referring to? My online classes? I'm afraid I don't understand the question.
Lora * VSM MEMBER * on January 13, 2016 @8:02 am PST
Ah Ha! Do you mean the fiddle book?
deb * VSM MEMBER * on May 6, 2015 @2:19 pm PST
Hi Lora! Great tips for sure will give it a go. Toes always want to tap away but how nice to get the whole body into feeling the rhythm of a tune..haha ! I still catch myself pushing a grocery cart forwards and backwards when I hear a baby cry in a lineup! Use to love rocking those babes around to music.Now my violin is my babyð ð»
Lora * VSM MEMBER * on May 6, 2015 @3:41 pm PST
What a sweet image that is! The violin as a baby you are soothing! Keep up the good work!
Mary Reeley * VSM MEMBER * on May 6, 2015 @9:40 am PST
Hi Lora. hey thanks for the little added lesson. I have the fiddle collection and will dig out those waltzes to work on movement the next 3 mo until my next lesson
Lora * VSM MEMBER * on May 6, 2015 @3:42 pm PST
YES! Those waltzes are perfect for trying out this skill of shifting weight from foot to foot!
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