Well, it’s not so easy as it sounds. It takes a good, solid four years or more of intensive study. It’s one of the great mysteries in Western music. There are people who spend their whole lives learning things, and then if you ask them what they learned they say it wasn’t enough. It’s a very hard thing to learn.
For starters it sounds almost impossible. Why?
Musicians have very good senses, and they have a very wide definition of what they think a violin could sound like. I think they have a really high, very good musical brain. They would be surprised by how difficult it is. All those wonderful players, what they’ve got, it’s unbelievable to them.
How are the violin parts developed in your practice?
The first four months or so you spend learning the notes of the violin: the sound is going to sound very different on the violin than it does on your cello or other instruments. You’re going to have to work very, very, very hard to produce a different sound. You’re not going to get a really rich orchestra playing together like that. I always tell them to play just two notes: “Sydberg” and “Dotrice”. The most important thing is to know the key signature to get you set up for the performance.
So you’re looking at a soloist for example?
Not a soloist, you can learn the violin part by watching him. You listen really intently at first, for the entire recording. And this is really difficult to get people to do. Some people are just not good listeners. They know they have to play, the words come out, but they’re not listening. In the recording, they might have all this great music, but they might not hear the most important part: “Sydberg” as it comes out, because they’re not used to hearing it.
That’s a very hard way to learn, is it not, and why do you do it? Because there’s an audience out there for this. The performance, in the sense of how it’s perceived, is going to be different.
Yes, but that doesn’t mean it’s not interesting. The performance in the recording won’t be the same as it was on the violin. It’s going to sound different.
It’s a matter of the audience having an expectation of what’s coming out, rather than what’s coming out. It’s an
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