Lower Intermediate Bass Lesson 1: Chordal Fingering

Looking at the technique of Chordal Fingering and how it maintains the resonance of the viol. How do you know when to use it and does it really make life easier?

Viol Player Book 2, Chapter 4 Exercise 1, 2, (eyes closed).

In this lesson we recap on some of the bowing technique learnt in the Elementary Lessons to enable a beautiful sound. Also starting to build a repertoire of good habits! For example:

• putting the left hand on the viol without looking

• putting your bow on the string, breathing in and out, relaxing and sinking into the string with good sense of bow arm weight
• Keeping the same hand shape using chordal fingering in first position using fingers 2-3 and half position with fingers 3-4.

P 33 Fanfare No 33 No 3:
Covering notes for bass lines and putting your left hand on autopilot!
p.38 Rondeau:
looking at changing hand shape from chordal fingering to normal hand position.
Playing with dynamics using the 2nd and 3rd finger on the bow:
• 2nd (or middle) finger can provide more weight (or pressure) on the horse hair, making the sound louder
• 3rd (or ring) finger supports the weight of the bow hair, making the sound quieter.
In conclusion: Chordal Fingering: don’t jump on the same fret with 2-2 or 3-3, just add a finger 2-3 or 3-4.

Lower Intermediate Bass Lesson 2: How to play elegant dotted rhythms

How to play elegant dotted rhythms. Understanding the relationship between different types of compound time signatures: 6/4 and 6/8 How well do you know your C major scale? Looking at c major in first position with F on the C string. C arpeggio with chordal fingering P38. Viol Player Book 2 Lull me Beyond Thee p37 : Using a 4th finger or an open string to avoid string crossing for one note. The un-cluncky quaver: bow distribution for dotted rhythms and playing short bows for short notes. Skye Boat Song p45 Looking at slurs on 3 notes and bow direction across 4 strings. Bowing long notes and feeling free and relaxed.

Lower Intermediate Bass Lesson 3: Half position, hand shape and resonance

Half position, hand shape and resonance C major scale: holding fingers down when string crossing for resonance. C major arpeggio; do you have a good hand shape so chordal fingering in half position feels relaxed? Viol Player Book 3, Page 2 Dance: Working on bow distribution, so weak notes have shorter bows. F major Scale: comparing bow direction on the top and bottom D strings and relating the notes on the top D string to the bottom D string. F major arpeggio: Chordal fingering in half position and keeping the hand relaxed by having a left thumb bent outwards. No 7 Helas Madam: Resonant fingering by holding thirds down and starting on a back bow. Playing quietly by supporting the bow hair with the 3rd finger. P4 Mrs Nag Viol’s Chordal Fingering Challenge! Exercises to install the feeling of chordal finger in your hand. For access to lessons 4-10 at Lower Intermediate and 4 other levels, become a Patreon.

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Tenor Viol Elementary Lesson 1: Posture and Pizzicato

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.

Tenor Viol Elementary Lesson 2: How to Bow and Bowing

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.

Treble Upper Intermediate Lesson 1: Drowsy Maggie Traditional folk tune with Jacqui

• Playing in chromatic and diatonic fingering
• Looking at hand position for barring.
• Slurring across strings on back bows.
• Faster string crossing.
• Left hand: transferring finger weight and having a thumb bent outwards, placed on the side, for a supple hand.
• Looking at an alternative way to diatonic fingering to get to the top fret.
• Learning to use the wrist for fast string crossing (and having a bit of fun too!).