William Fitzpatrick - violin expert

Three Questions

Answers to three interesting questions from our viewers

In this video, Prof. Fitzpatrick answers three interesting questions from our viewers. The first question is about the basics of study, the second is about intonation, and the third is about stage fright.

Released on May 6, 2020

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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

Fabrizio Ferrari:

Hello Professor Fitzpatrick. This is Fabrizio Ferrari from Virtual Sheet Music with some questions for you from our viewers. The first question is from Sofia Winkler. She says, "Thanks for all the information. Would you please clarify, how should be the basics divided? I really admire DeLay work, but it is very difficult to find trustful information online."

Professor Fitzpatrick:

Thanks for Fabrizio, that was a very interesting question. Well, first of all, I'd like to share with you something I asked Miss DeLay while being a student at Juilliard. One day I asked her, so when are you going to write a book like Mr. Galamian? She looked at me and said, "Never." I asked her why not, and she said, "You see Billy, when you write things down, people go, aha. That's what she thinks. That's what you're supposed to do. I don't want this to happen," she said. We both slightly smiled, but her reaction really stuck with me. You see, in her reaction, the reason behind the fact that all of our students play so differently, it becomes apparent, because she taught everyone differently. She said different things to everyone. So, the thing she said to me were quite different from the things she would say to another student. This was her gift to us all, and she encouraged us to be who we were

A friend talking about Miss DeLay and how she was with her students, one said, "It's like people who were blind standing around an elephant, each person touching a different part of the animal saying, aha, this is what an elephant is. Or another person standing around another part going, aha, this is what an elephant is. All of these people exclaiming the same thing, saying that this in fact was what an elephant was." So, they were all right. They were just the different parts of the animal. We all experienced Miss DeLay, but not all in the same way. Thank goodness.

Now, let's look at that sheet. Basics. You see underneath one hour. This caused me a little problem, because there are eight minutes. Everything is scheduled at eight minutes, but if you count them all up, it doesn't equal an hour. Anyway, I'll get back to that. Left-hand first, one, articulation. Sevcik opens one book, one or similar material. I took the similar material and did Schradieck. Two, shifting. Yules books one, two and three. You have to be careful. At least I think so. Because the use book that I used was this one, not this one. We'll come back to this over five minutes per hour thing as well. Vibrato exercises. Well, the one she gave me was... Well, one of the ones she gave me was... Two... Three... Et cetera. Until you got to... Now we turn to the right hand. Legato, using a whole bow, tone control exercise. It's another way of point of contact. Wait. Speed. Bow grip. You know how many different ways we can do this.

All of them are valid depending on the sound we want to get have. Bow changes. Next number two, martelé, collé. I used to have fun doing it here or toying up and down. It was a lot of fun. spiccato. Or... Or... Detaché number three, Forte, which is like the spiccato, but more refined. Four, bouncing. Strokes that are bouncing. spiccato. The hair bounces above the string. So Te. The hair stays on the string, it's the stick that bounces. Ricochet. That's her basics sheet.

Oh, now she wrote eight minutes for everything. Well, because of her training in psychology, this was a magic number, eight. I think we need to get though beyond eight , I mean, don't fixate on eight, but fixate on the idea that we need things to be timed. We need things, could be two minutes of this, four minutes of this, two minutes of this, but we need to create a situation where things are timed. And then that way we adhere to her eight minutes. If I look at shifting number two in the left hand, she even hints at it by saying, "Or five minutes per hour." Nothing is placed in concrete. I hope that answers your question

Fabrizio Ferrari:

And Antea Mencin asks the following, "Hey Professor Fitzpatrick. I have a question for you. I play the violin with a tuner from the beginning, but still I have problems with intonation. How long do people normally need to play properly and correctly in tune?"

Professor Fitzpatrick:

Interesting. Okay, so I'm reminded of this story about a teacher. I'm not going to say what nationality is the teacher. He was talking with the student and the student was saying, "I'm having such a hard time with pitch. It's so difficult for me." And the teacher looked at the student and said, "Well, it's very simple. You decide where you're going to put your finger and you keep putting it there." If only it were that simple. Unfortunately it's not. Or certainly it gives us something to shoot for. As we've been talking just now, I've had the videos that I've done, which are about eight more on intonation. You can look them up, and hopefully they'll give you a more detailed answer to your question. As to how long it should take? Well, I'm over 70 and I haven't come anywhere near close. So let's move on to tuners.

It is true that a tuner can measure a sound against a given criteria or algorithm and see if it's right or not. But who determines the algorithm? How did they get to that conclusion? I use 440 to tune my A. Other people use four 442 or 444. Am I the only one who's right? It's with this in mind that I have a hard time using a tuner to tune a passage, to tune a phrase. It's for that reason that I do not use, nor encourage my students to use them.

Fabrizio Ferrari:
And finally, Christian Wan remarks. "So, no smoking, no shaking bow, any other factors that would help shaking bows? Thank you professor."

Professor Fitzpatrick:
So another factor that could cause a problem, could cause your bow to shake, could be simply not knowing what you're doing. What do I mean by that? Well, when you have a moment of incertitude, the fear that might've been around the corner suddenly is on your shoulder, waiting to confirm your failure, have achieving what you were trying to do. In any event, not knowing interferes with one's ability to focus. And this could be the thing that could cause your body, that could cause your bow to shake. I'm not sure. Oh, have you ever noticed that your bow shakes on its own accord? Here, let me show you. It's like when you're playing a whole bow slowly, at some point it might start to wobble. You see all bows have weak spots.

Can you imagine if you didn't know that and you were in a concert and you were trying to hold a note to the end there, and you both started to wobble. You would think I've got to shaky bow, when in fact, if you had learned how to control, how to use weight to control that sound, that wouldn't have been a problem perhaps. I hope this helps with shaking bows. So again, thank you for Fabrizio for presenting these questions to me. Who knows, this is such a good idea that perhaps we'll do it again. But until then, all of you, please, please, please be safe. I look forward to the next time.
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Margaret * VSM MEMBER * on May 7, 2020 @11:04 am PST
Still no answer as to how to correct a "shaky bow. More pressure, tilting, faster(???) And I don't smoke!
Christian Wan * VSM MEMBER * on May 6, 2020 @9:00 pm PST
What's a normal daily routine for a violinist? In case, I've only one hour per day, what should I practice? Stretching, exercises, etudes, pieces, sight reading....
Tosh * VSM MEMBER * on May 6, 2020 @6:30 pm PST
What Professor Fitzpatrick says about Ms. Delay teaching each of her pupils differently is similar to the approach of a great golf teaching professional, Harvey Penick, who taught each of his pupils differently depending on their unique strong and weak points...some of these pupils became great golfers, but were quite different from each other. It seems that mediocre teachers tend to latch on to a "system" and then teach that to everybody who comes before them...guess it solves the problem of having to think creatively, ie., having to come up with creative solutions to each pupil's unique problems.
Christian Wan * VSM MEMBER * on May 7, 2020 @8:31 am PST
But is there any general guidelines for routine practice?
Tosh * VSM MEMBER * on May 7, 2020 @9:40 pm PST
It would seem to me that the best thing that can happen is for the teacher and the pupil to work creatively together, and then in the long run for the pupil to determine what works best for him/her. To go back to the golf analogy, there was a great golfer, Ben Hogan, who wrote 2 different books about how he played golf, but was noted for saying that ultimately each golfer had to "dig the truth out of the dirt himself" (or words to that effect) as to what would work for him, which would be unique to that golfer. So, it would seem to me that for a musician, the best thing in the long run, would be for a musician to determine his or her own guidelines for practice and beyond that regarding the goal of improving one's ability to figure out how to tackle his or her present technical weaknesses in the most productive way. Think it's futile to think in terms of general guidelines that will be the same for each person. Hope that helps you in thinking about this issue.
Christian Wan * VSM MEMBER * on May 7, 2020 @10:53 pm PST
Thank you.
William - host, on August 3, 2020 @6:26 pm PST
I am definitely not a golfer but there are definite connections to sports... check out "Attention and Motor Skill Learning" by Gabriele Wulf
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