William Fitzpatrick - violin expert

Graphics to Help with Performance

How can graphics help your performance?

In this video, Prof. Fitzpatrick talks about using symbols on your score to improve your performance.

Released on August 5, 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

So when we talk about expression, I commonly hear that we need to feel it. Well, I'm not going to go into that right now, but I would like to explore the tools we can use to show better how we can accomplish these feelings. And so with that, I would like to talk about notation, the tools that composers use to give directions in their music like piano forte, or crescendo or decrescendo. Well, for years, I've been creating and using my own notational representational tools to help me remember what I was doing in the music. Things that showed me where I wanted to go, what I wanted to do with the music. So why don't we start with what I used in the beginning when I first started doing this, when I first started using these notational graphics.

You see it all started when I was waiting for a lesson, I must've been 13 or 14 years old. And as I was sitting in front of my teacher's studio, I suddenly realized that I hadn't practiced the etude that he'd given me at the last lesson. Because my teacher was very strict, I knew I was in big trouble, so I had to learn it quickly, but there were no practice rooms available. So I sat there and looked at the etude and saw that there were places that I knew would cause me problems. So I put, just before those places, a sad face to remind me to slow down and take care. This was the beginning of my notational graphic use. Here, let me show you where I might've used it in Fiocco's allegro.

A little bit later, I discovered that glasses caught my attention, just like the faces and so I started using them to remind me to take care. Later, I started using this graphic to show me where I should be playing in the bow, at the frog, in the middle, at the tip, in the lower half and the upper half. You see these graphics caught my eye quicker than if I had to read them. So let's see. Why don't we use Kreisler's Praeludium and Allegro to show how these particular graphics can be used. In the andante section of the Praeludium, the graphic shows us that we should be playing in the upper half towards the tip. Or in the Allegro, this section should be played at the frog.

So moving on here is a simple arrow, but it shows clearly a direction, that direction being moving forward. And here we are moving backwards or making a retard. The next ones are very interesting to me, and sometimes in music, what we do with the music seems directionless, or should I say it's just simply difficult to notate? Well, here is my effort in trying to find a way to notate this kind of movement, this kind of irregular movement. It can either be going forward, backwards, or just in a totally directionless manner. And here is how I use these markings. Let's have a look at Kroll's Banjo and Fiddle. We are in a "Meno Mosso," but I want to move forward just a bit and then slow down just a bit as well. I think my graphics help to show this in a clearer manner.

What about in the first movement of Ravel's violin sonata. You see here, I want to do something a bit halting and so this graphic helps to show this. Or in this seldomly played work by Kreisler called Grave you see, I want to move forward. But then at the grandioso, move in ways that aren't predictable. I think the graphic helps to show this quite well.

So these are some of my markings, but you can of course make up your own. What's important is that by using these, by creating others, you have a way to be even more specific about what to want to do with the music. You have a way to go deeper and clarify in your mind, how to do what you want to do. Hope that this is helpful. See you next time.
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