Bass Viol Elementary Lesson 1: Posture and Pizzicato with Jacqui

Viol Player Book 1

Chapter 1

P24 Up and Down Again
P40 Soldier’s Call
• Looking at good posture, not arching your back, with knees over feet. Holing the viol with the right side tucked in.
• Does a rubber cloth help in the initial stages of learning the viol? The advantages and disadvantages.
• Learning the names of the strings from the middle out, rather than from the bottom string up.
• Left hand position and the relationship of the thumb to the second finger. Keeping the thumb bent out with the point of contact on the side. Transferring weight to each finger and not pressing too hard.
• Placing of the fingers correctly on the frets so each plucked note rings. Impossible to get a good sound with the bow if the finger on the fret is not placed correctly.
• How to play pizzicato.
• Learning in such a way that the left hand can go on autopilot, playing with your eyes closed and visualising the notes.

Bass Viol Elementary Lesson 2: How to hold the bow and bowing with Jacqui

Viol Player Book 1

Chapter 1

• Feeling the weight in your arm by swinging it.
• Hold your right arm, with your left hand and wiggle it! Feel the wrist move as a reflex action to having a floppy arm.
• Bow hold: Put your bow on lap – horse hair on knuckle, 2nd finger through the hair and stick. The thumb tickles the stick and the 1st finger is passive and cradles it. Bow hold is only complete when bow is on string. What does it feel like?
P24 Up and Down Again
• How much to tension the bow hair: Depending on the density of the stick, but if it looks like Robin Hood can ping arrow from the bow, it’s too tight! If it’s too loose, it’s difficult to hold and wiggles around.
• Being comfortable: Take a picture on your phone for a physical reference to your body and the position of your viol.
• Bow under the strings – before you apply rosin! Feel the movement of hour relaxed arm.
• When you hold the bow, think of the arm coming ‘up’ from under – this will help to keep the elbow down (especially if you play modern strings). Make sure your palm is vertical and the is bow is turned away so it looks like you’re playing on the wood of the stick. If the palm of the hand is not vertical the bow hold can feel very insecure.
• Check you bow hold: Take off your 1st finger and thumb from the stick and see if the bow remains on the string and feels secure. Take your bow off the string with your left hand and it should ping back onto the string.
• Hold the bow in the left hand at the tip and put the bow on a string and move the arm up and down the bow. Close your eyes and feel the movement of the arm.
• Starting to bow on the middle two strings.
• For bowing think push and pull rather than up and down and this can help modern string players to not get the bow stoke mixed up. Think of racket sports and a strong stroke with a bat is the same as a forehand stroke and a back hand being the same as a pull bow.
• Push is strong and pull is weak; tension and resolution.
• How to rosin the bow.
• Looking after your viol: Always wipe the strings, the belly of the viol and the stick of the bow with a duster when you have finished playing. It’s very easy to get a build up of rosin on the string and not make good contact with it.
• P14 Bowing & Viol Aerobics in 8 bows to each string and continuing with 4, 2 and 1 move bow forward and back – not up and down.
• To keep the bow parallel to the bridge, imagine you are bowing under a table (apart from the top string).
• Use right leg as a runway to keep the bow level. (apart from top string)
• Close your eyes and remember physical references to help embed muscle memory.
• P24 Up and Down Again; arco (with the bow). Separate each hand by learning skills separately: play without the left hand and bow the string the notes are on.
• Bow on string – breathe in and out.
• When string crossing in bar 8, the bow comes back, not down.
• P14 N25 Singing Cucumber – arm forward and back. Memorise, play with your eyes closed and feel the bow stroke changing from string to string. Little challenges. Important to learn these skills by putting them on autopilot.
• 15. Up and Down Again – both hands finishing with 2 fingers down and a relaxed right arm.

Bass Elementary 3: Bow Distribution and Dynamics with Jacqui

Viol Player Book 1

Chapter 2

• P 27 Forland Hope: Dynamics and bow distribution: Looking at dynamics and how that changes bow speed. To play a long note quietly, a slower bow is needed and short note loudly, a faster bow is needed. Starting with bow on string and breathe in and out, relaxing the right elbow on the exhalation.
• Putting the left hand on the fingerboard without looking. Bow speed changes to play crescendo and diminuendo
• Tip of 3rd finger takes the weight of bow on the horse hair to play quietly. Keep the bow turned away to make it feel secure.
• P36 Bransle: Doing consecutive push bows for the beginning of sections, without bouncing the bow on the string by being aware of the tip of the third finger and thumb on the bow. Looking at dynamics and articulation for different notes and phrases.