#14974 Reply

Dianne Adkins

Hi Nermin-Sabry! I am a Suzuki teacher. I always tell my students, ‘To play fast, you must practice fast.’ Most of the time, it is too hard to practice an entire passage of 16th notes fast at first. So we must develop a strategy. First remember that what you hear on the CD goes way faster than you should try to play the music. It isn’t until you are well into Book II, for example, that you would try to play pieces in Book I at CD tempo. So, some steps in conquering your difficult passage are as follows;

Break Them Up!
Ha ha ha, can you tell I’m feeling the bern? OK so what I really mean is break the passage up into little pieces. So take the first 4 notes and try playing them, ,only them, fast. Is it easy? If so, good! One unit down! 20 or so to go! Play this group of notes over and over, 100 times or for 30 seconds. This is like drill work that warms up the fingers. With each repeat, you fix intonation until you can play this group fast, easily, with good intonation.

If that first group of 4 notes posed some problem, and it was not easy, we have to figure out why. Is there a string crossing or difficult fingering involved that slows you down? Is there a bowing involved that makes it hard? Whatever is making it difficult, try to simplify the ‘unit’ by taking these steps.

  1. Play it without the bowing
  2. Make the rhythm easy by eliminating ties
  3. Try playing it forwards and backwards over and over
  4. Take out the fingering to identify a difficult bowing

Quite often we find the hard parts are not related to fingerings at all, but have an underlying bowing challenge. So once you fully understand the rhythm, have mastered open string bowing where string crossings are adding to the challenge and can play the fingering, bowing, and rhythm — Play it forward and backwards, fast, over and over.

Master units, then expand.
So you practiced the first 4 notes and they are fast now, and easy, and in tune. Next, practice the next group of 4 notes the same way, finding what makes it hard to play fast, simplifying as needed, building back to the original group with fingerings and bowings. Now the next step is to play these two fast little units together. So, try these 8 notes fast now. If they are easy, fast and in tune. Start the next group of 4 notes. If they are hard to put together, practice fast this way.

  1. Play unit 1. Stop. Think. Play unit 2. Repeat. The stop between can be as long as you need. Just be sure to play the units fast.
  2. Modify the units where possible to practice all the notes on 1 string, and play that fast.
  3. Play fast, what comes before the unit you practiced with all the notes on 1 string.
  4. Try to put them together. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Fix intonation on the repeat. Maintain a fast, small unit practice.

In this manner, you practice all the units individually, identifying problems and fixing as you go. By the end of your practice session, you should have made pretty good progress. Maybe you got it right where you wanted it. Don’t be disappointed if on tomorrow’s practice you find your fingers have slowed down and lost a little traction. You will get it back to where it was faster today. And tomorrow, even faster. Until soon, you’ll pick up your violin and whip out the notes at lightening speed, EZ, PZ.

One additional suggestion to push the practice for speed is to change the rhythm. This is most useful in a string of 16th notes that just don’t seem to want to flow. If you play them with a dotted rhythm, you require bow and finger to move faster in pairs of notes. This method identifies tricky spots that you need to iron out with the methods described above. (simplify, take out fingerings, etc) Make sure to practice both dotted 8th + 16th, and 16th + dotted 8th patterns. As well, try starting both up bow and down bow. Making it harder when you practice small units, makes it easier when you go back to the way it was originally written.

Let me know how these strategies work for you! If you have specific music or passages, you need me to create units for, I am happy to do that. Good Luck!

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