William Fitzpatrick - violin expert

Musical repetition and practicing

Learn this useful tip to optimize your violin learning

In this video, Prof. Fitzpatrick tackles violin etudes, in particular Dont Etude Op. 37 No. 9, by teaching you how to find repeated patterns that will quicken your practicing and learning.

Released on September 6, 2017

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Video Transcription

You see, in music, things repeat themselves. Ideas repeat themselves. Themes repeat themselves. So don't you think that this will be something wonderful to use in setting up our practicing? I mean, the things repeat themselves. Wouldn't this be a wonderful way to help us to structure our practicing? Well, why don't we take a look at organizing this repetitive material and see how this might help us to better manage a practice session. Okay, what exactly do I mean when I talk about organizing repetitive material? Well, why don't we use the Etude Opus 37 No. 9, by the Austrian violinist, composer, and teacher, Jakob Dont, which is marked "Allegretto Vivace," to help us to understand, illustrate this thought, this idea. Here, have a listen to the beginning of this etude.

All right, so let's start with this etude by Dont. Let's look at the first measure. Here, let me play it for you.

So you can see it starts with a half-step from three to four, and then a whole step from two to three. Well, if you look at it backwards. And on the D-string, there's a whole step back from the C-sharp, or if you pull it over to the A-string, that would make a B. So that's a whole step. So, in effect, I have a pattern. And the pattern is whole step, whole step, half step. See that whole, whole, half step. So if I were to put them all on one string, that would be the pattern.

All right then, so why don't we see if these notes prefer the pattern, occur, again, in this etude. Let's see. There is measure 3, measure 33, measure 35, and measure 43. So there are 48 measures in the piece, in the etude. That makes four measures that we don't have to practice individually, because if we've practiced one of them, we've practiced all of them. But what if we look at the pattern, that whole-step, whole-step, half-step pattern? What if we were to look and see if there exists another way of playing it, but with the same pattern? In other words, other notes but the same pattern. Well, if we look closely, which we are, we'll find it in measure 5. You see, it's the same pattern, but with different notes.

So how many times does it occur? So let's see. There's measure 13, 25, 27, and 37. Or four measures. So, you see, what was once four measures is now eight measures. When we learn how to do...and... It's eight measures that we've learned so far. I don't have to practice all of them. I could practice this one...and I practiced all of them. Now, let's see. We've only got 40 more measures to go. Oh yes, let's not forget measure 22. All right, why don't we look at measure 2? So how many times does that show up in the etude? Well, it only shows up once, in measure 34. But by practicing these 2 measures, we've now practiced 11. By practicing these 2 ideas, we've now practiced 11 measures out of 48. Do you see how this works? By using patterns, we can in fact cut down on the workload as we're finding similar, if not identical, patterns throughout the piece and only practicing what is absolutely necessary. In other words, I'm not going to practice the same measure twice. Why should I do that, if it's exactly the same? Can you see how this would work if you were studying a concerto or a solo work?

So that's it for this video. I do hope that this video helps you to understand how you can achieve even better practice sessions, and in doing so, produce even better performances. By the way, as a bit of background you might want to take a look at an earlier video, which was published in October of 2015, which was called "How do we learn music on the violin?" So my name is William Fitzpatrick, and I am the Temianka Professor of Violin at the Hall-Musco Conservatory of Music, which is located on the campus of Chapman University in Orange, California. I am as well the Artistic Director of the MusiShare Young Artist Program, which is located in Costa Mesa, California.
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Walter Campbell on January 22, 2019 @6:08 pm PST
Mr. Fitzpatrick, Love your videos. They are incredibly informative and insightful. Sir, I would like to ask what your feelings are about finger stickers on the violin fingerboard. I didn't use them as a child and now that I'm retired, I'm taking up violin to enjoy my leisure. Many teachers like to use them but, I think that it would not help a players ability to listen for correct intonation. It would be like numbering the piano keys! Best wishes, Mr. Fitzpatrick
John Anker * VSM MEMBER * on September 8, 2017 @1:06 pm PST
Excellent video as usual. You may want to use diffrent symbols for whole steps (n) and half steps (v).
William - host, on October 23, 2017 @12:22 pm PST
Thanks! Was not aware of this notation. Will do from now on!
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